What happened to Air France Flight 447?

One Canadian was on the missing airline. Aviation experts explain how bad weather can affect a flight.

Following last night’s disappearance of Air France Flight 447, which was carrying 228 passengers (including one Canadian) between Rio and Paris, the Guardian is reporting that air crashes related to turbulence happen about once in a decade. For example, 1997 crash in Uruguay lost 69 passengers and five crew. But aviation experts doubted that turbulence alone could down a large, modern aircraft like an Airbus A330. Commercial aircraft can be equipped with a weather radar, which warns of storms that pilots can then fly around. “The crew would not knowingly fly into turbulence where they have weather radar warnings. The detection of turbulence has progressed over the past decade but is still something of a black art,” says Kieran Daly, group editor of Air Transport Intelligence. An expert noted that the flightpath took the plan through an equatorial weather system associated with violent storms, called the inter-tropical convergence zone. Air France said that Flight 447 may have been hit by lightning, which could damage in-flight computer systems that help direct the aircraft, although lightning only very rarely damages airplanes.

The Guardian


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