Tag Archive: Air France

Flight AF 447 Upward Jets, More Evidence

Continuing on From…  What Killed Flight AF 447

Air France A330-200

Air France A330-200

Since the search for the ‘black boxes’ of Flight 447 was abandoned a few days ago (20th Aug 2009 – see news item),  only 3 days later, Nature’s On-line version has published reports of the jet things I was going on about in my first article about my thoughts on the disaster.  A free synopsis is here:

Quantification of the troposphere-to-ionosphere charge transfer in a gigantic jet

The article points out the currently known differences between the various electrical strikes, or jets, but two common things are stated in the summary:

  1. They all go upwards from the weather tops towards the edge of space.
  2. They all have massive amounts of charge.
Gigantic jets can travel more than 60km (40 miles) into the ionosphere

Gigantic jets can travel more than 60km (40 miles) into the ionosphere

Furthermore, the BBC has published a photo of this rarely seen phenomenon, “upwards lightning”.!

It turns out that the work (by Duke University), was done last year, but has only come to light in Nature today.

And Now?

For now, because there’s been no real extra evidence produced, jets or lightning strikes like this one (and others in the YouTube videos on my first article), I still think are a very good candidate for an explanation of the plane’s demise.

There are several reasons for this:

  • Air France Flight 447

    Air France Flight 447

    Several other planes were in the same area of the (large scale and not unusual) storms.  They were basically untroubled by the storms.

  • The other planes  saw nothing (apart from one which saw a possible flash of an explosion), which only adds fuel to the elusive quality of these electrical discharges.
  • This rarity of the strikes (as in the recent image above), coupled to their speed, all helps to confirm that if such a strike happened, it would be unlikely to have been seen.
  • The recent Duke research proves that such a strike, would be very powerful.
  • Modern planes are tested for many eventualities.  But a rare, high-power bolt of energy, is, by definition, very hard to test against.  Probably, the only way it could be done, would be to wheel a plane to a high power underground physics lab – but could it fit? !!
  • AF447 Rudder

    AF447 Rudder

    The plane crashed into the sea almost certainly in one piece (i.e. – no air break-up) because ,

    • unlike some other air-break-up crashes, the passenger bodies were not seriously damaged by a high-speed blast of air and rapid decompression.
    • large pieces of the aircraft were found – high altitude break-ups normally increase fragmentation and the bits aren’t large
    • the tail-fin damage proves it was attached when the plane hit the water
  • Apart from garbled radio alerts from the confused auto system, there were no human alerts from the crew of any kind…. ?    This means that either,
    • all of the crew were very busy
    • all (or most) of the crew were incapacitated
    • none of the normal communication systems worked
  • This suggests, to me, that the plane went into a flat spin or shallow dive, but not so extravagant as to snap the wings, tail or fuselage.
  • Coupled to the lack of messages, it suggests that most, if not all, electrical systems were dead.
    • It also suggests that the auto reporting system was more robust and had an independent power supply – which is true.  It, however, was getting duff information from the plane’s sensors, hence the garbled and conflicting automatic radio reports.
  • This all suggests a massive electrical strike, so fast and rare that no-one else in the area saw it.
    • If this incapacitated the crew, no-one is saying…  the reports I’ve read make no mention.

Ergo, upwards lightning, a blue jet or some other similar thing, but just enough to incapacitate the plane and most of it’s electrics…

Flat Spin

There’s an interesting video below, of a trained fighter pilot (arguably more proficient and clear-headed than an airline pilot), flying an F14 Tomcat into a flat spin.

The pilot says virtually nothing, even though comms were working.  The plane just spins and spins, dropping 15,000 feet until the guy bales out.

But notice how the plane does not break up in ‘flight’….

Q. So what does it mean?

A. It means the F14 was notorious for this and that even the best of pilots get spun into speechless confusion.

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Technical Xenophobic BBC Air Crash Reports


You may not have noticed the co-incidence yesterday, but an Iranian aircraft crashed and the US Space Shuttle took off.  the co-incidence was in  the strange reporting that envelops such events.

Iranian Crash

Fly home, AF447

Fly home, AF447

This, as air crashes go, was pretty ordinary – something went wrong, it crashed, everyone died.  You’d expect some reasoned discussion, bearing in mind that one of the most modern and newest planes in the sky plummeted into the South Atlantic little over a month ago.

This is what the BBC said about it near the end of the piece:

The plane was built in Russia in 1987.

It was the third deadly crash of a Tupolev Tu-154 in Iran since 2002.

The BBC’s Jon Leyne says Iran’s civil and military air fleets are made up of elderly aircraft, in poor condition due to their age and lack of maintenance.

Since the Islamic revolution of 1979, trade embargoes by Western nations have forced Iran to buy mainly Russian-built planes to supplement an existing fleet of Boeings and other American and European models.

West v East technology

This is all well and good, but the deadly tone with an emphasis on old and/or Russian aircraft makes a bad taste in the mouth, does it not?…  Why?

A.  Because there’s very little technical difference between the Russian and Western aircraft.



Indeed, on the very day that the Shuttle takes off, I’m reminded of the technical superiority of Russian astronautics and space exploration.  While not putting a man on the moon,  they pragmatically put a robot there instead, paving the way for the robots we now have placed on Mars & Venus, etc.

They have a long and distinguished history of space “firsts”…  But the ultimate irony is that the much vaunted Space Shuttle has had very public catastrophic failures in the past and is soon to be retired.  And until the US gets a new launch vehicle, for the next 4-6 years they will be relying on the Russians to put men in space!

Actual Crashes

So much for balance!  The BBC article then continues in a box-out,


Feb 2006: Tupolev crashes in Tehran, kills 29 people – E
Dec 2005: C-130 military transport plane crashes near Tehran, kills 110 – W
Feb 2003: Iranian military transport plane crashes in south of country, kills all 276 on board – E
Dec 2002: Antonov 140 commuter plane crashes in central Iran, kills all 46 people on board – E
Feb 2002: Tupolev crashes in west Iran, kills all 199 on board – E

Looks bad doesn’t it?

A Russian airliner that crashed near a city in the Urals, killing all 88 people on board, caught fire in mid-air, reports say.  The Boeing-737-500, belonging to a branch of the national airline Aeroflot, was on a flight from Moscow to Perm, near the Ural mountains.   One witness said the blaze lit up the whole sky

A Russian airliner that crashed near a city in the Urals, killing all 88 people on board, caught fire in mid-air, reports say. The Boeing-737-500, belonging to a branch of the national airline Aeroflot, was on a flight from Moscow to Perm, near the Ural mountains. One witness said the blaze lit up the whole sky

Compare and contrast this to this little list of large plane crashes (from the BBC article, but as a link), and count the relative abundance of Eastern versus Western manufactured planes…..


15 July: A Caspian Airlines Tupolev plane crashes in the north of Iran en route to Armenia. All 168 passengers and crew are reported dead. – E

30 June: A Yemeni passenger plane, an Airbus 310, crashes in the Indian Ocean near the Comoros archipelago. Only one of the 153 people on board survives. – W

1 June: An Air France Airbus 330 travelling from Rio de Janeiro to Paris crashes into the Atlantic with 228 people on board. Search teams later recover some 50 bodies in the ocean. – W

20 May: An Indonesian army C-130 Hercules transport plane crashes into a village on eastern Java, killing at least 97 people. – W

6 April: An Indonesian army Fokker-27 crashes on landing near Bandung, West Java, killing 24 people. – W

25 February: A flight from Istanbul to Amsterdam crashes short of the runway at Schiphol international airport. Of the 135 people on board, nine are killed and at least 50 injured. – W

Forty-nine people were killed when a flight from Newark to Buffalo crashed in Clarence Center, a suburb of Buffalo, in New York state. One person was also killed on the ground.

Forty-nine people were killed when a flight from Newark to Buffalo crashed in Clarence Center, a suburb of Buffalo, in New York state. One person was also killed on the ground.

12 February: A passenger plane crashes into a house in Buffalo, New York, killing all 49 people on board and one person on the ground. – W

8 February: A passenger plane crashes into a river in the Brazilian state of Amazonas, killing 24 people, most of whom were from the same family. – W


14 September: A Boeing-737 crashes on landing near the central Russian city of Perm, killing all 88 passengers and crew members on board. – W

24 August: A passenger plane crashes shortly after take-off from Kyrgyzstan’s capital, Bishkek, killing 68 people.- W

20 August: A Spanair plane veers off the runway on take-off at Madrid’s Barajas airport, killing 154 people and injuring 18.- W

Wreckage of the Spanair MD82, 21 August 2008 [Pic: EFE]

Three days of mourning was declared after the Madrid air disaster

2 May: South Sudan’s defence minister is among 22 people killed after engine trouble causes a plane carrying a military delegation to crash about 400km (250 miles) west of Juba. -N/A

15 April: Some 40 people die when a DC-9 skids off the runway while attempting to take off in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo city of Goma during heavy rain, smashing through a wall and into a busy residential area.- W

24 January: Nineteen people die when a Polish Casa C-295M military transport plane crashes in the country’s north-west, carrying officials who had attended an air safety conference.- W


For 2008 to 2009, I make the totals, as reported by the BBC, 1 unknown, 12 (W)estern manufacture, 1 (E)astern manufacture.

Now do you see the technological xenophobia that I’m talking about?

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Flight AF 447 Ocean Floor

Atlantic Ocean Floor Profile


Atlantic Ocean Floor

Following the (as yet unresolved) crash of the Air France airbus on flight AF 447, much has been made about the ocean floor having huge cracks and being very uneven.  Most atlases, online and TV news reports say this and back the statement up with visual imagery of the bathymetry.  See this website for instance which has extensive large scale imagery.

It thus enters the perception of people that this is what the bottom of the ocean looks like.  Like in the picture to the left for instance.

Atlantic Floor False Scale

Atlantic Floor False Scale

This image at right is the one usually shown (e.g. on the Wikipedia article) for the sea floor profile in the vicinity of the AF 447 crash.  It has a greatly exaggerated vertical scale – and everyone says this.

But the thing is that the mental picture we have IS that of the picture – it’s how our brains work!  We conveniently forget the reality!

Atlantic Floor Rea lScale

Atlantic Floor Rea lScale

For comparison, I’ve reworked the image here.  I estimate the vertical exaggeration at 85x so all I’ve done is re-sized the picture’s vertical dimension by that amount, keeping the horizontal scale the same!  Be aware that the real scale image is ~2500 pixels wide!

Click on both thumbnails for comparisons! The real scale image now shows the ocean floor to be more like gently rolling hills, not precipitous chasms…

How this affects the continuing search for clues, I don’t know.  I’m sure the guys in the submarines are well aware of the ocean floor – after all, it’s their job and their working environment.

I’ve done this rescale of a popular image for my own, and others benefit, that’s all.

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Ginette Neveu, Gluck and Beethoven

Strangely post on June 3rd, 2009
Posted in Art Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,
Ginette Niveau

Ginette Niveau

While hunting around the web for information on airplane crashes (yes, I know!), I came across this most beautiful piece of violin playing from Ginette Niveau who died 60 years ago in an Air France airplane that crashed into the side of a mountain.

It really is THE most beautiful thing to see her eyes go glassy and the intense concentration – on the conductor, and the whole ‘thing’.  She is ‘in’ the piece; dans le ballon as I call it.

Since I’d never heard of the young lady, I enquired more and found this piece by Gluck (1714 – 1787) to entertain me.

Christoph Willibald Gluck

Christoph Willibald Gluck



And then it struck me!  It’s one of my favourite Beethoven(1770 – 1827) pieces, but slowed down!   So Beethoven basically heard the Gluck thing, which is what they did, then speeded it right up, different key, and added a few frilly bits and different kind of emotional changes.  But in my ears, for each harmonic and ‘feel’ change, it’s the same thing.  Compare and contrast.  And enjoy!

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What Killed Flight AF 447

What Brought Down the Air France Jet over the Atlantic?

Flight AF 447 left Rio de Janeiro, bound for Paris, at 1900 local time (2200 GMT) on Sunday 31 May.  The aircraft, an Airbus A330-200 with registration F-GZCP, had been in operation since April 2005.  Shortly after the aircraft's scheduled arrival time in Paris of 1110 local time (0910 GMT), it was announced that the flight was missing.

Flight AF 447 left Rio de Janeiro, bound for Paris, at 1900 local time (2200 GMT) on Sunday 31 May. The aircraft, an Airbus A330-200 with registration F-GZCP, had been in operation since April 2005. Shortly after the aircraft's scheduled arrival time in Paris of 1110 local time (0910 GMT), it was announced that the flight was missing.

Just my tuppence worth.  The best current info on the subject is Wikipedia which has peer reviewed sifting and not a load of speculative ‘maybes’.  See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AF_447 Also, check http://www.weathergraphics.com/tim/af447/ for good weather, navigation and aircraft info.


Aside from a bomb, which has never been mentioned because the authorities must have had a bit more information than they are letting on to disregard that option, lightning has been bandied around a bit along with big hailstones and updrafts.

A lot is being made about turbulence and thunderstorms in the Intertropical Conversion Zone (ITCZ).  As far as I can find, no wings have ever snapped on a modern airliner due to up or down drafts.  They may cause the airplane to do something else, but the wings stay on!

British Nobel Prize winning phyicist, meteorologist and Inventor, Charles Thomson Rees WilsonSo thunderstorms, especially in the tropics, happen all the time.  But aircraft can take them routinely nowadays because they are designed to.  So let’s eliminate this option.  If the airplane had stalled, at normal altitude the crew would have had plenty of time to radio mayday.  Even with electrics fused, the airplane has an automatic spinner that pops out to generate new electric for control and comms.  Lightning, similarly, because it happens all the time, is planned for and designed against, so eliminate that as well.

However, I remember everything, (on this sort of thing!!), and way back in the 90s I saw a TV show about the recently discovered phenomenon of Blue jets and Red Sprites.  There are a host of such upward moving electrical discharges from the top of thunderstorms, nearly always above the ocean.  They were postulated by Wilson in the 1920s, physicist inventor of the Cloud Chamber, which, it can easily be argued, helped to bring about the Atomic Bomb.  They were discovered in 1989.  Wilson knew his stuff.

My emphasis shows that all the factors are in place for a viable method of bringing down a large modern aircraft in open airspace.  (also, see Letter to Nature: Gigantic jets between a thundercloud and the ionosphere;  Wikipedia: Upper Atmosheric Lightning or TLE).  Because of global warming, thunderstorms will be more prevalent and more violent as the Earth seeks to equalise it’s overheated energy balance.  So I suggest that in future, it’s probably safer (but more expensive in time and fuel) to fly right round thunderstorms, not over the top or steer through.  It’s another example of Karmic Retribution or Lovelock’s Gaia effect of automatic feedback mechanisms.

Blue Jets

Enough of that.  I think Blue Jets are the most likely cause of the aircraft’s demise.  Their origin is at normal flying height.

Now watch the videos.  Imagine trying to fly an aircraft right over that lot.  The jets are remarkably reminiscent of what could be called a particle beam weapon, or a Star Trek-like phaser or photon bomb-type weapon.  The concentration of energy, in my mind, seems perfectly capable of knocking a airplane from the sky either by electrical overload, or physical damage to the structure by pressure force, or electrical corrosion due to plasma ablation.  No-one haas been able to study the effects of such a thing because they are so rare.

Although totally natural, I doubt this knowledge will bring much immediate comfort to those affected.  If the black box flight recorders are ever found (it’s gonna be tricky, two to four miles down a crack in the ocean floor), they may give some information.  They may be completely burnt out by the discharge, of course.  I know they have various structural and pressure design limits – I don’t know their electrical resistance to high intensity plasma discharges.?

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