Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Flight 447: Questions Requiring Answers

{UPDATE: Debris found by searchers at sea.}


Several key questions are being overlooked in the follow-up to the Air France disaster yesterday.

1. Did Brazilian air traffic control lose that flight from its radar when it should have had it on its radar?

2. If so, when did controllers become aware of it?

3. Were controllers in Brazil aware of the monster thunderstorms just ahead in the flight's path at the last time they say they had radar contact with the plane?

4. Why did the failure to hit a routine radio contact about four hours into the flight not trigger an alarm?

5. The last known radar contact was a little over three hours into the flight. How long after that did the flight remain in Brazilian air space? I am told that the flight would have remained in Brazilian airspace for about four hours after takeoff, and you can see the route above.

6. How many air traffic controllers were following the flight?

We know, of course, that there have been rampant and fatal faults in Brazilian air traffic control and in Brazilian aviation radar and radio communications. No need to get into all of that again now.

I don't have the answers. The plane evidently went down in a severe thunderstorm, perhaps with some kind of catastrophic mechanical or electrical failure.

But wasn't someone supposed at least to know where that plane was at the presumed time it went horribly missing? Was it in fact within the parameters of Brazilian radar and/or radio range?

Who? What? When? Where? Why?


PS -- I've read a couple of accounts today in which the question is asked, why was there no Mayday call from the plane, as would have been expected, presuming that the airplane did not just suddenly blow up? And if there was one, why was it not received? But there's a third question that any curious reporter should be asking: Was it received and not heard -- or heard and not heeded?


Here is a map from the Brazilian Air Force (which runs that country's air traffic control system) showing where the plane presumably went down. (Thanks to Richard Pedicini in Sao Paulo.)


Here's a link to Air France's detailed press releases on the disaster.



ChefNick said...

Joe, I posted this on my blog. Pardon the profanity:

How can an Air France A330, only four years old, disappear over the Atlantic in this day and age? Last time I checked, this was not a maintenance record issue from the Republic of Abkhazia. It's AIR FUCKING FRANCE! Hello, people, you're supposed to get 228 people from A to B in one piece! This is not the Golden Age of Seafaring.

This is not a bus plunge in Peru! You have sophisticated radar, satellites, a pilot with 11,000 -- count them: eleven-thousand -- hours of flight time, and this happens?

What the bleeding hell?

Well, there are going to be 228 families a little irate at Air France at this point in time. What is it with them? They run off runways in Toronto, aargh, I won't even go there. And certainly not on Air France.


larry's fog zone vegi garden said...

Next time you are in the SF Bay Area tune in 134.15 MHz on your scanner following a flight from SFO to Hawaii. After the flight has been up for fifteen to twenty minutes you will hear this " Radar service terminated, contact SF ARINC." If you monitor HF, you can via (www.liveatc.com) Pacific Sector HF you will hear some flights giving position reports. Now most now use ADS or similar five letter system starting with C.

If you listen to liveatc Atlantic HF you will hear many aircraft giving voice position reports.
You might want to download JACARS and see what aircraft upload/download. My guess only is that this aircraft was equipped with state of the art ARINC aviaonics and may have been sending automatic position position reports to near the end. Maybe as a reporter you should contact contact ARINC and do a story on the over the ocean postion reporting?

ChefNick said...

I'm thinking catastrophic structural failure of some kind at this point. Either they were too damn busy in the cockpit to contact ATC or we have a Swissair 111 situation.

Too preoccupied with trying to save the plane to do anything else.

I cannot imagine lightning could bring down a plane like that and turbulence could never be bad enough -- it just ain't ever happened.

So I'm thinking taped-over pitot tubes, pilot becomes disoriented, instruments say he's upright when he's not, plane goes into unrecoverable spin and voilà -- game over.

It would take about a minute and a half to plunge from 36,000 feet.

I would bet my life on faulty maintenance in Brazil.

Too bad they'll probably never find the black box. But I'll bet even if they did, the CVR would reveal nothing.

This is one huge puzzle wrapped in an enigma, but hey, we all remember the Russian kid who took the controls of his father-pilot's passenger jet and managed to CFIT.

Anything goes.

the said...

Let's assume -- bearing in mind the old adage about assumptions -- for a moment that the aircraft was, indeed, struck by lightning, despite the pilots' best efforts to avoid the thunderstorms that lay in front of them.

It's entirely plausible that the lightning strike destroyed the two primary communication antennas on the aircraft (something I've experienced in an airliner, albeit not an A330). That could explain the lack of a Mayday call when an emergency subsequently developed.

There was a backup transmitter on the aircraft -- the automatic (data) radio message identifying an electrical fault proves that -- but I don't know if that's usable for voice communications on Air France's A330s as it is in some airplanes. Even if it is, the transmitter is usually very weak compared to the primary comm radios, so a transmission that would be understandable on a primary comm radio from 400 miles away might be totally unintelligible on the backup at less than half that distance.

lschenatto said...

Dont know who you´re trying to convince. EVERYONE knows that the wrong ones were your pilots.

André Soares said...

You should be there!

Igo Cunha said...

As idiotic you and. You this in an airplane in which they had disconnect transponder. e had killed 100 people more than and you it comes to question the Brazilian airspace? It leaves of being fool. The airplane made contact and would go to return the contact after 1 hour. THE SEA AND NOT COVERED BY RADARS, GOES TO PLACE RADAR WHERE. TO PLACE ITS HEAD IN FOOT IN THE SEA TO FIX THE RADAR? After the airplane not to make contact, at the same moment the tower of cindacta made contact with the tower of Islands that went off contact with other towers, was when you alert they had received them automatic of the airplane. You need to read more before saying "besteiras". IF YOU AND SO UNDERSTOOD OF AVIATION. BECAUSE HE DID NOT ASK FOR TO THE PILOTS TO BIND THE TRANSPONDER…

Tarso said...

Why Questioning Brazil?

andre said...


Alvaro said...

Caro imbecíl.
Você é um idiota e fala coisas sem ter noção e sem ser responsábilizado pelos seu inconsequentes comentários maldosos. Como no seu país, eles não se importam quem foi o culpado pelo acidente onde você estava. Os verdadeiros culpados ficam soltos e você faz comentários sem o dever de informar a verdade (aliás, esse é um mal da imprensa americana). Nessa tragédia que aconteceu com a Air France, onde a aeronave esplodiu, você quer colocar a culpa em controladores de voo? Cara, vai procurar o que fazer e pare de ser irresponsável.

Roni SkyDiver said...

You should die 3 years ago here in Brazil together with the 154 victims, murdered by fucking american pilots

Lvcivs said...

Dude, shut up. Go learn some real aviation, you're just another journalist that knows nothing about aviation and thinks that aviation people are stupid and close-minded as many journalists are.

Oceanic operations are without radar. To say so much about radar, it's shocking that you're such ignorant regarding how radar works and why their range is limited and are useless for Oceanic operations.

Oceanic Operations are made with HF radios, with low quality of audio and so much noise that the audio can be kept mute and traffic control can call each individual plane through a system name SELCAL to deliver instructions.

Please stop treating aviation like it's amateur business. It's the opposite, no other sector in our world demands so many technology from so many different areas like the aerospace industry.

The only amateurs in aviation are journalists like you, mr. Shark.

RogerLCLP said...

You're an Idiot! I hope your lies about Brazil and France comes back to bite you. You're so coward that you have enabled "Comment Moderation" to allow only biased posts.

Get a life... Go write about a beauty pageant or something, and leave these people alone...

Drik said...

Joe, you are a beast, a sensational inexpensive, professional criticism of another country to show be higher. What are you? Where was anything? Who was you? Where are you now? Why are you so?
I'm posting here because I am outraged with his fuckin 'matter.

Bruno said...

Fuck You, murder!! You killed more than 200 brazilian guys!! MURDER!!

Duley said...

I remember very well when you come back to U.S. after the accident in Brazil and the first thing you did was post in your blog that fly in Brazil is too dangerous and that the Legacy pilots were heroes. The "heroes" that you mentioned was negligent as the brazilian air traffic controllers.

Why the controllers again???

Maybe you should think more before write those shits.

You are the biggest asshole EVER.

See you in the hell.

gimo said...

Not happy about killing 199 people in the middle of amazon, now you start making stupid questions about Brazilian air surveillance??
Sure it is not the state of art, but how long it took to the US air controllers to figure out what was going on on 9/11?? Let's face it.
Many more planes passed through the same area, that same night… (30 min interval) through the same monster thunderstorms and nothing happened to them.

Mercado Livre Vendas said...

Go fuck yourself, fat loser.

Luiz Claudio said...

I really want know why this reporter is raising those questions.

We should not forget that he was one of the passenger at the Legacy - Gol accident. The airplane where he was traveliing turn off the security system against colisions. Now, he is talking about security.

Questions requiring answer...

Where was he when the accident that kill all passenger in GOL airbus happened?

This is the real question requiring answer. I guess his concerns were not to important when he was involved in the problem.

instead to raise those questions, he should understand why his pilot at that time turn off the equipment.

José Roberto said...

I am sure you will not accept this comment because you really don't want any answers for your questions.

You want to blame the brazilian air traffic control for the AF 477 flight accident to create a defense argument for your friends, the Legacy accident negligent crew.

First of all, as a supposed to be reporter, you should look for informations before lauching doubts over brazilian air traffic control.

1. Did Brazilian air traffic control lose that flight from its radar when it should have had it on its radar?

No, the brazzilian ATC lost AF 447 flight radar contact when the flight went to a area out of range of the radars. Beyond that point, the plane should report its position by radio.

2. If so, when did controllers become aware of it?

They didn't because to lose the radar contact in that point is the rule.

3. Were controllers in Brazil aware of the monster thunderstorms just ahead in the flight's path at the last time they say they had radar contact with the plane?

The crew has received weather report before the plane took off.
The plane was equipped with a weather radar too. It is PIC responsibility find his way through to weather or go back.

4. Why did the failure to hit a routine radio contact about four hours into the flight not trigger an alarm?

What kind of alarm are you refering too?
Maybe a lost plane alarm in entire airport.
All air safety rules were taken by the ATC. Nobody knew what had happen at that time, it could be a radio contact failure only. It happens sometimes...even at USA.

5. The last known radar contact was a little over three hours into the flight. How long after that did the flight remain in Brazilian air space? I am told that the flight would have remained in Brazilian airspace for about four hours after takeoff, and you can see the route above.

As informed above there are black holes in that air space, over the south atlantic, as there are black holes over the north atlantic.
The plane was over Brazilian airspace but in a area not controlled by radar. The crew should have comunicated to ATC when passing over TASIL point, until then it was impossible to know anything was wrong.

6. How many air traffic controllers were following the flight?

Why is this relevant, the brazillian ATC took the necessary measures as soon the flyght did not make the scheduled radio contact.

There were ATC errors in GOL / Legacy accident as there were a lot of Legacy crew errors.

But brazillian ATC error not justify the Legacy crew neglicency that, among others errors, was using a notebook when should be checking the flight instruments.

You should have some respect for the AF 447 victims, so stop to use this accident as a way to minimize your friends's guilt in the Legacy accident.


Jose Roberto Wagner

alex said...

Dear Joe,
Are you loosing your mind making this kind stupid comments?
Do you know what are you talking about?
Do you work for FAA?
Are you a air trafic controller?
Are you a Airbus or Boeing jet pilot?
Why don't you go play bingo because you have a malfunction brain.

Victor Henrique said...

Never again fly to Brazil: we don't need your opinion. You aren't welcome here.

ebuenobr said...

Let the authorities take care of this delicate subject that affects so many families. It is irresponsible to raise circumstances without detailing the subject or simply to "put fire" in the press. Respect the victims and their relatives. I Compare those comments that you are like those "paparazzi" who invent stories of football players.

Paula said...

Are you crazy? Find aircraft procedures before talking bullshits. This is your job like reporter!
Non-communication has two possibilities: human error on ground (land), sudden loss of consciousness of the crew. Don´t choose the most appropriate for you! Show all the options!

Brief and to the Point said...

Rather than putting the blame on Brazil's air traffic control, why dontcha provide explanations as to why the incompetent pilots in the plane you were in managed to crash into a Brazilian Plane. Bear in mind that the first thing you guys did was to hide yourselves in the US while investigations in Brasil proved it was the plane you were in the one that sent 200 people to god knows where....

Luiz said...

your idiot! Son of a beach!
Shut up! American sheat!
Dream with 11 november and Osama!!!
In Brazil don't happens this...

your sheat!!! Fink more times before say Brazil! You are a murder in your legacy whith machines off.


Victor said...

Oh! i'm american!!!
My country is the best!!

the world is shit!
The system of air traffic and defense of the U.S. worked very well on 9 / 11, right?

Dudu said...

You are a dumbass, you don't know jack shit about aviation and yet you post some absurd questions like those about flight 447! The airplane was completely out of radar range (wich in any country in the world is about 500km). The maximum time an aircraft can fly above the south atlantic without radar contact is 4 hours and in that case it was expected on europe, not back in Brazil, if you can understand the catch, witch im pretty sure you can't. Also, Brazilian controlers still can't control the weather, let me now if american controlers do that! Oh, talking about weather, let me know why there were so many fatal accidents due to ice conditions in the US in the past years, most of them taking place in sitiuations where the controlers KNEW about ice conditions wich were reported via aireps by other pilots! oh, you dont now about that do you, fat boy? Of course not, you are not aware of what happens on your own god damn country. Oh, and one more thing, according to ICAO (2009), brazilian navigation services (wich include weather) are way better than american ones. But i'm pretty sure you are not posting that on your blog, are you, fat boy? Your kind of press is the most stinky kind of press there is, you are a failure, you are a complete disgrace to journalism!!! Have a nice day, dumbass.

Flavio said...

Mr. Joe Sharkey,

After reading this “article” at your blog, I realized that you are an extremely anger man and I feel extremely sorry for your "pathetic comments", which sounds like a personal attack to me, "blaming" the Brazilian Air control system, even before, we have access to any information related to this tragic event that killed 228 people!
It's matter fact, you, as a survivor of a deadly crash between 2 airplanes that killed 155 people back on 2006 in Brazil, you should have a little more LOVE and RESPECT for these 228 suffering families, at least mentioning your sorrow for the lost of some many lives....or something like that, since, your own family could have gone through the same pain of losing a loved one! Do you really think that your 2 "pilot's friends" that were in charge of "your plain" saved your life? NO, the only reason why you are still here in this world, writing these emotionless articles in your blog, it's because GOD decided to spare your life for “some kind of reason" and I truly don't believe that you honoring the gift that GOD gave you, with this type of attitude......maybe, you should include in your dictionary the words “forgiveness” and “compassion”, which I am not sure if you are aware of it!

I found the following title in another one of your articles, “Brazil’s Skies: If You Had Courage and An Airplane, You Had an Airline”…..Yes, we only have airplane accidents in Brazil, right? And we never had accidents in the US or with American plains, right? Oh yes, except for the accident with the Alaska airlines out of CA coast killing 88 people, American Airlines killing 265 in NYC, Colgan Air in NJ killing 50 ppl, etc……I am not going over all these horrible accidents, but, the point is: “Airplain accidents and crashes can happen ANYWHERE in the world, not only in Brazil, just take a look at the statistics & facts! The air control system needs to be updated in a world wide range, not only in Brazil, which got a score of 95 out of 100 on their system by the world association……and it always have room for improvement, to save innocent lives!

Please, don’t act and talk like a RACIST, because of your own personal issues with the Brazilian air crash investigation that “your airplane” got involved, just be thankful to be alive, because, the 155 people in the other plain were not as lucky as you and they are NOT in this world among us anymore! Also, on my opinion, you as a columnist for many important newspapers, such as NY times, Wall Street paper….you have the obligation to be impartial delivering the news to the general public, because, your “affirmations”, it can probably persuade people that are looking for information, not opinion…..it doesn’t matter if you are writing in your own blog or in a newspaper, since, you are clearly highlighting your credentials!

“Yes, I am a Brazilian, but also, very honor and proud to live in the US for the last 18 yrs, considering myself as a ½ American as well…….this matter is not about nations, it’s about lives and I don’t think that you are able to see that, except for your own issues!

I just noticed your last name, how funny?! It fits you like a glove….having a “Shark” attitude towards such a painful tragedy and using it in your own benefit!!!
Shame on you! I hope God blesses you as he did it before!

snipertail said...


Ronnie said...

You son of a bitch, you and your pilots murderers killed nearly 200 people and are still unpunished, who are you to question the Brazilian airspace or the drivers?
Where were their drivers when their twin towers down? Where were their controllers when hit the Pentagon? What is a company for a trash inutel, the poor American people have a journalist as you are ignorant.

Sidnei said...

When the pilots of Legacy pay to kill 154 people

recacon said...

Joe, don't you think it's too soon for these kinds of question? Let's see... Hope you approve this comment, and I don't have the intention to offend you at all. Just wanna share what I know.

1- The fact about losing the aircraft from the radar is still a mystery. We don't know what happened, if it has blown up while flying or if it went down on a emergency descent.

2- At the exact time when this aircraft disappeared from the radar, the controller probably tried a contact, which ended up unsuccessful. And also, when an aircraft enters a distress situation, it's not recommended for ATC to keep calling the aircraft, they should wait for a contact or a distress call. You can see more about this here: http://www.caa.co.uk/docs/33/cap745.pdf

3- Yes, they were aware. But the one responsible for planning the route is the flight dispatcher from Air France. If any flight enters a thunderstorm, it's NOT the ATC who should warn them. Anyway, an A330 has its own weather radar.

4- ATC won't keep calling aircraft at will and asking "How's your flight going? Is everything alright? Do you need something?" because in these routes, they have their own reporting points. If you dig a little deeper, will see that when the aircraft didn't report the INTOL position, Atlantic Control contacted Dakar Control and asked "Do you have AF447?". The answer, if you don't know, was negative. Because it didn't reach the reporting point. And officially, a SAR service must only start after the "endurance" time reported by the aircraft on the flight plan ends.

5- Read #4.

6- That, I don't know. At least one, and if this one goes to bathroom, there's always a standby. There won't be an ATC position left alone.

Well, hope this will be enough until we finally know, if we'll get to know, the real cause of this disaster. For now, I just hope that everybody's on a boat, somewhere in the middle of Atlantic, waiting for the rescue.

We know what you've been into, and if you're mad at brazilian ATC, please, at least show some respect for the families of AF447. Try to stay neutral for now.

I'm getting my civilian aviation degree in Brazil, and sorry for any english mistakes. I'm just trying to open your eyes.

Daniel RR said...

Before asking these cynical questions you should try learning something about flight control systems.
There are NO flight control with radars above the ocean, far from the coast, ANYWHERE in the world! So, don´t try to insinuate that this problem happened because it was in Brazil. It could have happened anywhere in the world and nobody would be watching the flight on the radar screen.
Flight control over the ocean is made by radio, when the crew makes contact in some previously determined checkpoints. When AF447 didn´t make contact in the presumed point, brazilian control made contact with Senegal to see if they knew something about the plane.

I hope you write another post with this information that apparently you didn´t know. If you knew it and posted these questions anyway, then you are worse then I thought.

Carlos said...

Justo shut up your mouth little bastard..

take care of your "towers" and leave us alone..

U and your "great pilots" crash in Gol fly.. are u safe now?? yeah.. u safe.. but my family is gone.. idiot!!

Marlos said...

What is the head of someone who feels guilty for the fall of an airplane (Boeing 737)

In a time of sadness is that you have to do?

Cleberson Roberto said...

Your clown! Why vice won't take care of your life?
You and your friends killed a lot of people (Brazilian).
Now it is questioning the military ones Brazilian... thief and murderer!
Go to the hell to be professional, impartial as all good journalist it should be!

Jefo said...


You're a demonic journalist...
It is incompressible as you can defend the pilots of the Legacy!

How you can to call the Brazilian people are "idiots, archaic country, land of 'tupiniquins' and bananas"?!
Do you know that exists an process in Brazilian justice against you?

Samuel said...

going to hell son of the bitch

andre popular said...

you have no idea of who speaks,
there is far from easy and criticizing,
you criticize the air traffic controller, but the accident of flight
you were his friends were murderers, and Jan champion joe
Lepore, and were they were off course.
these moments of sadness always appears to some shit

Literate said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Zungu said...

A little reading does not do any harm... Specially when someone calls himself a reporter. You better do yours before writing such nonsense.

José said...

Idiota! Apenas um imbecil e retardado amricano é capaz de não olhar para o proprio umbigo e colocar o dedo apontando a culpa para os outros. os americanos deveriam aprender a olhar para seus proprios problemas e parar de gerar outros (tantos pelo mundo). Se não pode ajudar fique calado!

Daniel said...

Nobody has realized that one the night of Flight 447 there were several other airlines going on the same route, e.g. Alitalia, Lufthansa, British, etc. Why could those plains pass through the gigantic storm (50,000 feet cumulus) and not the AFrance flight? What do the pilots of the other flights have to say about the storm that allegedly took down the Airbus?

Gustavo said...

YOU killed 154 people, by YOUR negligence... and now, you put the blame on the brazilian controllers?
i think would be better if you were dead now, instead of those 154 people...

paulistanodoseua said...


These questions appear to be not dissimilar from your line on your Legacy incident. Your account of the story, of course, was discredited after an investigation. Seems you've got an axe to grind. What your "journalism" shows is American ignorance--the idea that Americans are above the law. It's a disgusting personal trait and an an unprofessional journalistic one.

rafael said...

sorry Joesharkey...but I just noticed that you really don't know nothing about airtraffic...

bea said...

why just don't you STFU!

aluisior said...

And you? Why not come to Brazil to respond to the survey? Stay there with the tail in the U.S. talking about, where you were at fault in legancy also had hundreds of deaths in the fall of the plane of the goal? Sucker

Cleiton said...

How do you feel knowing that should have died in that accident also the Legacy?
If you do not have relevant comments to make should be quiet in respect of persons who died in that disaster.
Our air traffic controllers has nothing to do with this tragedy.

Gabriel said...

die later!

airguapo said...

Stupid Jornalist shut up!! We still crying the people that died in Gol airplane,please never back to Brazil!you not welcome here!

Milton Almeida said...

Mr. Sharkey, the answers are:
Who? Joseph Lepore and Jan Paladino.
What? Crash in the air with the Boeing aircraft company Gol Linhas Aéreas, killing 154 people.
When? September 29, 2006
Where? Brazilian airspace over the Amazon region.
Why? Incapacity, incompetence and recklessness in the conduct of Legacy aircraft.

Lili said...

Be honest; publish this comment!

Joe, seems waste of time insisting that people without character has a change of behavior. But you. know very well what happened in the Legacy and, worse, insists suggest that Brazilian professionals are solely responsible for the tragedy with the Gol flight oo. If you post a lot of question in a blog makes you have a conscience is clear, and be happy that God has pity on your soul, that the neglect of those who insists you defend, the pilot and co-pilot of the Legacy, could be on fire now fire of hell. But this should be legend for you, which is not even respect the pain of the families of Air France and USA to come to his vanity raise frivolous, without at least the expected progress of investigations. I am ashamed to be a journalist, when I see people like you who return to defend the dignity of personal interests. These are the journalists who share the role of the press by the benefits of friendships, which contributes to the degradation of humanity. Tighten your belt and a good trip

Just Me said...

You were on the flight that was responsible for killing 154 people right?
You should shut up, nobody knows what happened, and instead of find a guilty for this tragedy, you should be doing something relevant, stoping talkig what u don't know. Are u a pilot? or an especialist? Well, I don't think so, cuz' if u would, I'm sure u weren't talking shit like this.
Let people who really understand, find the reasons why this terrible accident happened.

Boris said...

I just bet with some friends you wouldn't have the balls to publish that and I was write! I got two shots because of you and I appreciated. You are a very coward killer. God for you. Now run back to mother. In Russia, you'll be executed. Just saying.