Archive for June, 2009

Forecast models tracking possible storm toward Bay area

June 27th, 2009 No comments


We are closely monitoring the tropical wave located in the western Caribbean. It has been flaring up lately as the environment has become a little more favorable for development. This morning the area of convection does not look very healthy and it is still disorganized. The wave is slowly moving toward the NW and headed to the Gulf of Mexico sometime on Sunday. If it makes it there, it appears that the atmosphere will be even more favorable for development.

Recent model runs have now begun to include the Bay area in the eventual forecast path. The trough along the U.S. east coast may pull the potential storm to NE and toward us. Many of the global forecast models are seeing this and forecast a storm crossing the peninsula of Florida sometime early next week with winds in the neighborhood of 50-70mph. I must stress that as of now, all of this is from model forecast data. It is not a certainty that this will occur, but it is in the realm of possibility. Use this weekend to make plans just in case we have to deal with a tropical system this week.

Stay tuned to 10 Connects as we follow the latest on the tropical wave.

Bobby Deskins, 10 Connects


CNN: Bodies from Air France flight found

June 6th, 2009 No comments

Bodies from Air France flight found

  • Story Highlights
  • NEW: Airline failed to replace a part, investigators say
  • NEW: Ship also finds one seat, suitcase from plane
  • Airbus passenger jet’s autopilot had disengaged
  • 228 people were on board missing aircraft

PARIS, France (CNN) — Bodies have been found from the crash of an Air France plane that disappeared Monday, the Brazilian air force said Saturday.

Also, one seat and a suitcase were recovered at sea by a vessel participating in the search, the air force said in Recife, Brazil.

Earlier in the day, aviation investigators said Flight 447 sent out 24 automated error messages, including one saying the aircraft’s autopilot had disengaged, before it vanished with 228 people on board.

They also reported that the airline had failed to replace a part, as recommended by the manufacturer, Airbus.

Airbus had advised airlines to update equipment that monitors speed, known as Pitot tubes. The recommendation was a result of technological developments and improvements, an Airbus spokesman told CNN’s Richard Quest. The change was not mandatory, and the spokesman would not comment on Air France‘s failure to follow the advice.

Planes have crashed because of faulty or blocked Pitot tubes in the past, Quest said, and there was clearly something wrong with the doomed plane’s speed-monitoring equipment.

But it may be a mistake to place too much emphasis on the Pitot tubes, he added, as the jet apparently was experiencing massive system failures.

Even as they analyzed the error messages and satellite images of the doomed flight’s path, investigators said they still have a lot of work to determine what caused the plane to go down.

“I would just like to ask you to bear in mind that all of this is dynamic and there are a lot of question marks,” said Paul-Louis Arslanian, head of France’s accident investigation bureau.

“We don’t know how the aircraft entered the water. We don’t know how these pieces of debris entered into the water and that you have to take into account the current … and the shape of the ocean floor.”

The error messages suggest that the plane may have been flying too fast or too slow through the stormy weather it encountered before the crash, officials said.

In addition, investigators have said the plane’s autopilot disengaged, cabin pressure was lost, and there was an electrical failure before the disaster.

The jet’s manufacturer, Airbus, sent a Telex to operators of Airbus models reminding them of what to do when speed indicators give conflicting readings.

The spokesman said the notice does not mean there is any major flaw in the aircraft but is simply a reminder to pilots of what to do in the cockpit if they get conflicting information about air speed. VideoWatch as experts question whether recovery is possible »

All 228 passengers and crew aboard the Airbus 330 are presumed to have died when the plane disappeared northeast of the Fernando de Noronha Islands, 355 kilometers (220 miles) off the northeast coast of Brazil.

The flight originated in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and was en route to Paris, France. Map of Flight 447’s flight path »

Search teams were still trying to find debris from the jet Saturday, two days after a Brazilian air force official said debris plucked from the ocean was not from the Air France jet.

All AboutAir France-KLM Group • Rio de Janeiro • Brazil

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Air France jet likely broke up over ocean

June 4th, 2009 No comments

Ten minutes later a flurry of automated messages began: The autopilot had disengaged, a key computer system had switched to alternative power. Controls needed to keep the plane stable had been damaged. An alarm sounded indicating flight systems deteriorated.

Three minutes after that, systems needed to monitor air speed, altitude and direction failed, and then the main flight computer and wing spoilers failed as well.

The last message, at 11:14 p.m., reported loss of cabin pressure and complete electrical failure — catastrophic events in a plane that was likely already plunging toward the ocean.

French and Brazilian officials had already announced some details about the messages, but a more complete chronology was published Wednesday by Brazil’s O Estado de S. Paulo newspaper, citing an unidentified Air France source. The Associated Press confirmed the information with an industry official who had knowledge of the investigation. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss details of the probe.

“This clearly looks like the story of the airplane coming apart,” the official said. “We just don’t know why it did, but that is what the investigation will show.”

The burst of messages — sent automatically by the jetliner’s computer systems — don’t explain what caused the disaster, which destroyed the plane carrying 228 people from Rio de Janeiro to Paris late Sunday night. But the official told the AP that they hold a key to establishing how the airliner went down.

The reasons for the crash will more likely be in “black box” data and cockpit recorders, which may lie in wreckage on the rugged ocean floor.

While military planes and ships struggling through heavy winds found more jet debris Wednesday, the lead French investigator, Paul-Louis Arslanian, said the black boxes might never be found, due to fierce tropical weather and undersea mountains and valleys that drop as much as three miles down.

The last word from the pilot was a manual signal at 11 p.m. local time saying he was entering an area of “CBs” — black, electrically charged cumulonimbus clouds that come with violent winds and lightning.
Satellite data show towering thunderheads were sending 100 mph (160 kph) updraft winds into the jet’s flight path.

Air France spokesman Nicolas Petteau referred questions about the messages to the French accident investigation agency, BEA, whose spokesman Martine Del Bono said the agency won’t comment.

Brazilian Defense Minister Nelson Jobim also declined to comment, saying that the accident “investigation is being done by France; Brazil’s only responsibility is to find and pick up the pieces.”

Just what caused these failures is a mystery, although turbulence, violent winds and lightning in the thunderstorms could have contributed to a combination of problems.

“These are telling us the story of the crash. They are not explaining what happened to cause the crash,” said Bill Voss, president and CEO of the Flight Safety Foundation in Alexandria, Va. “This is the documentation of the seconds when control was lost and the aircraft started to break up in air.”

One fear — terrorism — was dismissed Wednesday by all three countries involved in the search and recovery effort. France’s defense minister and the Pentagon said there were no signs that terrorism was involved, and Jobim said “that possibility hasn’t even been considered.”

A U.S. Navy P-3C Orion surveillance plane, a French AWACS radar plane and two other French military planes joined Brazil’s Air Force in trying to spot debris and narrow the search zone. The floating debris includes a 23-foot (seven-meter) chunk of plane and a 12-mile-long (20-kilometer-long) oil slick, but pilots have spotted no signs of survivors, Air Force spokesman Col. Jorge Amaral said.

“Oil stains on the water might exclude the possibility of an explosion, because there was no fire,” Jobim told reporters Wednesday.

The new debris was discovered about 55 miles (90 kilometers) south of where searchers a day earlier found an airplane seat, a fuel slick, an orange life vest and pieces of white debris. The original debris was found roughly 400 miles (640 kilometers) northeast of the Fernando de Noronha islands off Brazil’s northern coast, an area where the ocean floor drops as low as 22,950 feet (7,000 meters) below sea level.

Brazil lacks the equipment needed to reach the ocean floor. If the black boxes are at the bottom of the sea, their recovery will have to wait for the arrival early next week of a French research ship with remotely controlled submersibles that can explore as deeply as 19,600 feet (6,000 meters).

The sturdy black boxes — voice and data recorders — are built to give off signals for at least 30 days, even underwater, and could keep their contents indefinitely.

But Arslanian, who heads France’s accident investigation agency, said in Paris that he is “not optimistic” about recovering the recorders — and that investigators should be prepared to continue the probe without them.

“It is not only deep, it is also mountainous,” he said. “We might find ourselves blocked at some point by the lack of material elements.”

Arslanian said investigators didn’t have enough information to determine whether the plane broke up in the air or upon impact with the sea, and that in the absence of black box data, they are studying maintenance and other records.

“For the moment, there is no sign that would lead us to believe that the aircraft had a problem before it took off,” Arslanian said.

He said investigators did not know the exact time of the accident or whether the chief pilot was at the controls when the plane went down. Pilots on long-haul flights often take turns at the controls to remain alert.

If no survivors are found, it would be the deadliest crash in Air France’s history, and the world’s worst civil aviation disaster since the November 2001 crash of an American Airlines jetliner in the New York City borough of Queens that killed 265 people.