RSS
The loss of Air France Flight 447
How can an airliner simply disappear in midflight?
W

hat happened
Brazilian military pilots have spotted wreckage in the Atlantic Ocean that could be from Air France Flight 447, which disappeared with 228 people aboard early in its trip from Rio de Janeiro to Paris on Sunday. (Reuters)

What the commentators said
"Modern airliners do not just vanish in midflight," said Charles Bremner in Britain's The Times. At least, that's what we all thought before Air France Flight 447 dropped off the radar. "Planes missing in storms sounded like something from the old days of oceanic flight, not the world of satellite links and automated flight systems."

"The case of missing Air France Flight 447 is demonstrating technology's limits," said Sholnn Freeman in The Washington Post. The last communication Air France received from the plane was an automatic message, via satellite, indicating an electronic malfunction. But only if the plane's black box is found in the ocean's vast expanse will investigators have what they need to figure out what happened.

Finding the voice and data recorders of Air France Flight 447 will be difficult, said Scott McCartney in The Wall Street Journal, and would be just one step toward unraveling this tragedy's mysteries. Speculation is swirling that the plane was struck by lightning during a thunderstorm, but that happens frequently and rarely causes a crash. Also, when a plane is at cruising altitude, as this flight was, it can fly over such trouble. We'll have to "stay tuned" and hope for answers.

EDITORS' PICKS

THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER

Subscribe to the Week