notícias de que a tripulação de um cargueiro francês teria avistado destroços aproximadamente no mesmo local reportado pela tripulação de umvôo da TAM:

DEBRIS floating on the Atlantic Ocean in the area where a missing Air France passenger jet is suspected of crashing has been sighted by crew on a French freighter, Brazilian media has reported.

The sighting by the crew on the Douce France is said to be in the same area off the coast of Senegal where a Brazil TAM airline pilot spotted what was thought to be a burning piece of wreckage.

Brazilian carrier TAM said the crew of one of its planes saw “bright spots” on the surface of the ocean. The sighting took place at about the same time that Air France Flight 447 vanished from radar.

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Curiosamente, a imprensa brasileira está dizendo o contrário, isto é, que o Douce France não encontrou nada:

Terra:

Buscas realizadas por um navio mercante em uma área onde uma tripulação da TAM afirmou ter visto “focos luminosos” não encontraram indícios do Airbus que fazia o vôo AF 447 da Air France, desaparecido no domingo quando fazia a rota Rio de Janeiro-Paris, informou a Força Aérea Brasileira (FAB). “O navio mercante Douce France realizou padrão de busca ‘quadrado crescente’ na área reportada pelo avião da TAM, sem identificar qualquer vestígio do vôo AF 447”, afirmou a Força Aérea em nota na madrugada desta terça-feira.

UOL:

Segundo a Aeronáutica, o navio mercante Douce France realizou busca na área reportada pelos tripulantes do avião da TAM, sem identificar qualquer vestígio do voo. Três aviões da FAB decolaram às 3h da madrugada para prosseguir as buscas pelo avião desaparecido.”

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Tim Vasquez, do Weathergraphics, fez um excelente trabalho de simulação do que poderia ter acontecido a partir de dados reais retirados da base do satélite meteorológico GOES-11.

af447-0215-zoom

(clique para ampliar)

Na imagem acima, a linha azul diagonal representa a trajetória do AF 447 a partir da posição INTOL, a 565 quilômetros de Natal, que foi onde a aeronave realizou o último contato por rádio às 22:33h.  Tim Vasquez sumariza:

It appears AF447 crossed through three key thunderstorm clusters: a small one around 0151Z, a new rapidly growing one at about 0159Z, and finally a large multicell convective system (MCS) around 0205-0216Z. Temperature trends suggested that the entire system was at peak intensity, developing rapidly around 2300-0100Z and finally dissipating around dawn. From a turbulence perspective, these cold spots would be the areas of highest concern as they signal the location of an active updraft producing new cloud material in the upper troposphere.

The last communication from the plane was at 0214Z (12:14 am local meridian time). This was an automated ACARS message reporting an electrical fault and pressurization problem. This would be about the time the plane was beginning to exit the cluster, but not before having flown for 75 miles of numerous updrafts. The exact position cannot be determined with certainty, however, since a 1-minute time error in position or reporting time translates to 9 miles of spatial error.”

E conclui:

Overall what we know for sure is weather was a factor and the flight definitely crossed through a thunderstorm complex. There is a definite correlation of weather with the crash. However the analysis indicates that the weather is not anything particularly exceptional in terms of instability or storm structure. It’s my opinion that tropical storm complexes identical to this one have probably been crossed hundreds of times over the years by other flights without serious incident.

Still, in the main MCS alone, the A330 would have been flying through significant turbulence and thunderstorm activity for about 75 miles (125 km), lasting about 12 minutes of flight time. Of course anything so far is speculation until more evidence comes in, and for all we know the cause of the downing could have been anything from turbulence to coincidental problems like a cargo fire.

My own opinion of the crash cause, as of Monday night, based on the complete lack of a HF radio call and consideration of all of the above, suggests severe turbulence (see the BOAC 911 and BNF 250 tragedies) combining in some unlikely way with CRM/design/maintenance/procedural/other deficiencies to trigger a failure cascade. We can almost certainly count on some unexpected surprises once the CVR is recovered. Until then, all we can do is await the investigation and hope that the world’s flight operations stay safe until AFR447’s lessons are revealed.”

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Do France 24H:

Families and close friends of the passengers of the Air France plane that disappeared over the Atlantic will be allowed to go to the zone where the plane is thought to have gone down, said Jean-Louis Borloo, France’s transport minister.

President Nicolas Sarkozy has said that a trip to the zone would be organised for those who wish to go, Borloo announced. Borloo added that Sarkozy wished to meet again with the passengers’ relatives.”

Sinceramente, me parece demais levar um bando de gente fragilizada para o meio do oceano Atlântico para ver ou nada, ou pedaços de corpos.  Acho que o Sarkozy está exagerando.

No mais, o ministro francês confirma o que eu disse antes:

Referring to the plane’s cockpit recording equipment, Borloo said, “Our job is to find the black boxes.” He added that the Airbus will automatically transmit a locator signal for 30 days.”

A equipe de resgate tem 30 dias para achar a caixa preta.

Eu acredito que farão o possível para achá-la.  O desastre foi muito sério e lança um impacto muito grande sobre a credibilidade da aviação comercial.  Pessoalmente, acredito que o acidente foi causado por uma conjunção extremamente improvável de fatores, que dificilmente vão repetir-se com muita frequência _ pensemos que todos os dias provavelmente centenas de vôos cruzam a região equatorial sem nenhum problema _ mas o que importa nesses casos é a aparência dos fatos, e não apenas os fatos.

Por outro lado, sem que os destroços sejam localizados em breve, não há mesmo a menor possibilidade de achar a caixa preta, já que a área é imensa e os destroços devem estar a uma grande profundidade (3 – 4 km).  E mesmo assim, não conheço missões de recuperação de ULB´s (Underwater Locator Beacon, um transmissor de rádio conectado à caixa preta ) efetuadas a esta profundidade, embora ela possa ser localizada por um navio com sonar passivo.