Air France 447 - Air France transatlantic flight reported missing out of Brazil

Air France has confirmed that its flight AF447 from Rio de Janeiro is the one which has apparently disappeared while en route to Paris.

The French carrier is not confirming the aircraft type but the airline's schedule shows that this service is normally operated by an Airbus A330-200.

Aircraft communication, addressing and reporting system data indicates that the aircraft is registered F-GZCP, a four-year old airframe, serial number 660, owned by Air France.

A spokeswoman for the carrier says it "regrets to announce" that the situation concerns its Rio service which was due to at Paris Charles de Gaulle at 11:15.

This flight departed Rio de Janeiro at 19:00, she adds, with 216 passengers, three crew and nine flight attendants.

While reports, citing the Parisian airports operator, suggest contact with the flight was lost at 06:00UTC - by which time the flight would have been just three hours from Paris - other reports indicate a search is underway closer to Brazil.

All Air France A330-200s are powered by General Electric CF6 engines.

Nathan Zalcman/AirTeamImages.com
© Nathan Zalcman/AirTeamImages.com

Air France: No success in contacting missing A330

Civil air traffic control authorities in Brazil, Africa, Spain and France have all failed in their attempts to contact the Air France Airbus A330-200 which vanished en route from Rio de Janeiro to Paris overnight.

French military air traffic control, says Air France chief executive Pierre-Henri Gourgeon, has also tried to reach the aircraft but "without success".

Flight AF447 departed Rio de Janeiro at 19:03 yesterday. Air France confirms that it experienced "strong turbulence" while flying through a thunderstorm at about 02:00UTC.

The aircraft then generated an automated message about a quarter of an hour later, at 02:14UTC, which Air France says was "indicating a failure of the electrical system" while the flight was in a remote coastal region.

Air France has confirmed the aircraft as airframe 660, registration F-GZCP, which had accumulated 18,870hr in flight. The twin-jet, powered by General Electric CF6-80E engines, was put into service in April 2005.

The carrier says the captain had logged 11,000hr including 1,700hr on A330 and A340 aircraft.

One of the two co-pilots had a total of 3,000hr, the other 6,600hr, with 800hr and 2,600hr on A330/340s respectively.

Air France adds that the aircraft last checked in for maintenance on 16 April.

It has confirmed that 216 passengers, including eight children, plus a crew of 12 were on board the flight.

Weather suspected in Air France A330 loss

Weather conditions have emerged as a leading suspect in the assumed loss of an Air France Airbus A330-200 that disappeared off the coast of Brazil last night.

The General Electric CF6-powered twinjet, F-GZCP, went missing about 3.5hrs after its 19:03 departure from Rio de Janeiro for Paris as flight 447 with 216 passengers and 12 crew on board.

In a statement Air France says: "The aircraft crossed a stormy zone with strong turbulence at 02:00 (UTC), or 04:00 in Paris. An automatic message was received at 02:14 indicating an electrical circuit failure in a remote area of the Brazilian coast."

Search and rescue efforts have been underway all day but no trace of the aircraft has been found and no communications were received from the crew.

The aircraft was delivered in April 2005 and had recorded 18,870 flight hours, says Airbus. It last underwent maintenance on 16 April.

Brazilian ministry details last track of missing Air France A330

Brazil's defence ministry has detailed the last known track of the missing Air France Airbus A330-200, and indicated that the jet may have reported a pressurisation problem as well as an electrical fault.

Flight AF447 had been en route from Rio de Janeiro to Paris Charles de Gaulle with 228 occupants when it disappeared.

At 22:33 Brasilia local time, says the ministry, the aircraft made final radio contact with the eastern Brazilian Cindacta-3 Atlantic area control centre at Recife, one of four en route centres that oversee Brazilian airspace.

The aircraft contacted Cindacta-3 at the INTOL waypoint, some 350nm (565km) from Natal, a city on the Brazilian coast. It indicated that it would enter Dakar airspace, Senegal, at the TASIL waypoint - about 663nm (1,228km) from Natal just under 50min later, at 23:20 Brasilia time.

Nathan Zalcman/AirTeamImages.com
© Nathan Zalcman/AirTeamImages.com

AF447 left Cindacta-3 radar surveillance from the island of Fernando de Noronha, at 22:48. At this time it was cruising at 35,000ft at 453kt, says the defence ministry, with indications that the flight was "normal".

The aircraft did not contact air traffic control around the time of the expected transit of TASIL.

The ministry says that Air France has informed Cindacta-3 that, about 54nm (100km) from TASIL the flight transmitted a technical message concerning loss of pressurisation and an electrical failure.

Brazilian Air Force rescue teams from Recife initiated a search at 02:30 Brasilia time, involving a Lockheed C-130 Hercules and Embraer P-95 Bandeirante.

French agency prepares A330 investigation team

French air accident investigation agency Bureau d'Enquetes et d'Analyses has drawn up an inquiry team after being formally notified by Air France over the Airbus A330-200 which disappeared during a transatlantic service to Paris.

Air France has handed all its information on the missing flight, AF447 from Rio de Janeiro, to the BEA and Airbus.

BEA has cautioned against "hasty interpretation" of "fragmentary" and unconfirmed information.

But there is still no clarity regarding the fate or location of the aircraft.

Brazil's ministry of defence has intensified the search effort, deploying three naval vessels, five aircraft and two helicopters to assist in the hunt.

Airbus says the twin-jet had accumulated about 2,500 cycles and flown about 18,800hr. It adds that it has offered "full technical assistance" to the investigation board.

While four A330 aircraft have previously suffered hull losses, all of them occurred in exceptional circumstances.

Two SriLankan Airlines A330s were destroyed in an attack on Colombo Bandaranaike International Airport in July 2001, while a Malaysia Airlines A330 was written off after a chemical spill in March 2000.

Airbus lost an A330 in a fatal accident in June 1994, during a performance test at the airframer's Toulouse headquarters.

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