Friday, December 11, 2009

Unfriendly Skies

Another Rio to Paris flight ran into trouble over the Atlantic:

In an attempt to "shed light" on the crash of Flight AF447, which went missing while flying over the Atlantic, the Bureau d'Enquêtes et d'Analyses (BEA) said it was looking into what triggered Flight AF445 to issue a mayday signal flying the same route on 29 November. "We cannot ignore such a coincidence," said a spokesman.

The A330 airbus – the same model as the aeroplane which went down on 1 June – was four hours into its flight to the French capital when it hit heavy turbulence, an Air France statement said. "[The aircraft] performed a standard descent in order to avoid a zone of severe turbulence and get back to a less turbulent level of flight."

The airline insists the emergency signal was not sent because the pilots believed they were in danger.

But, according to French media reports, the jet descended by far more than 300 metres – which is the standard procedure for avoiding turbulence – causing panic on board. Le Figaro reported that the plane plunged from 11,000 metres to 9,300 metres and quoted one passenger as writing afterwards that the aircraft appeared to be "no longer under control".

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