Almotamar.net, Google - Search teams scouring the Atlantic Ocean for the Air France jet which came down in a storm Monday have found debris from an aircraft. The Brazilian air force said "small remains" were located 650km (400 miles) northeast of the Fernando do Noronha archipelago in the area where the jet is thought to have crashed.
It could not immediately be confirmed that the debris was from Air France flight AF 447 – which had 228 passengers and crew aboard but reports from Brazil suggested that the search teams had seen aircraft seats bobbing in the sea.
Brazil’s Globo TV quoted a ham radio operator who reported hearing air force radio traffic that debris possibly from the plane had been spotted. The Folha de Sao Paulo newspaper reported on its website that air force radar has detected signs of oil and metal in the same area.
If the debris is confirmed as that of the Air France Airbus A33-200, air crash investigators will be significantly more confident as to the prospects of recovering the plane's "black box" flight recorder, which will give clues as to what happened.
As search teams scoured a remote area between Brazil and the coast of Africa for traces of the plane, the French Government announced that the investigation would be led by Alain Bouillard, who led the inquiry into the fatal Concorde crash over Paris nine years ago which helped hasten the end of the supersonic airliner.
The flight disappeared early yesterday after flying into a storm, four hours into its scheduled 11-hour flight from Rio de Janeiro to Paris. Pierre-Henri Gourgeon, the Air France chief executive, said that the last contact with the plane came in a flurry of about a dozen automatically-generated technical messages "indicating that several systems had broken down...a completely unheard-of situation".
“It is probable that it was shortly after these messages that the impact in the Atlantic came,” Mr Gourgeon told reporters at Charles de Gaulle airport, where the flight would have landed yesterday morning.
A daytime search by eight Brazilian air force aircraft doing visual sweeps did not turn up anything. The search continued overnight with a transport aircraft fitted with equipment to detect the plane’s emergency beacon and another with onboard radar and infrared gear that could detect bodies in the water.
“All possibilities must be examined. We cannot, by definition, exclude a terrorist attack, because terrorism is the main threat for all Western democracies,” Herve Morin, the French Defence Minister, said. “But today we have no evidence whatsoever of the cause of the accident."
President Sarkozy said yesterday that the chances of anyone surviving appeared "very slim" and Air France is coming to terms with the worst loss of life in its history and the worst civilian air accident anywhere since 2001.
A civilian Brazilian pilot flying for TAM airlines reported seeing orange glimmers on the surface of the ocean under Senegalese airspace, possibly indicating wreckage in the water, but there have been no further sightings.
“We received this information at around 4.30am (0230 GMT) from a Brazilian pilot who said he’d seen faint glows on the surface, in an area consistent with the A330’s last reported position,” said Captain Christophe Prazuck, a spokesman for the French military command.
An 11-year-old Bristol schoolboy was among the passengers aboard the jet, it emerged today.
Clifton College Preparatory School confirmed that one of its pupils, Alexander Bjoroy, who is British, was on the flight returning from a half-term break spent with his family, who are currently living in Brazil.
John Milne, the headmaster, said: "Alexander was a well liked and respected boarder who will be sorely missed by his fellow pupils and staff. Our deepest sympathies and condolences are with the family in Brazil at this time."
Air France says that there were five Britons among the 216 passengers aboard flight AF447. They are thought to have included Arthur Coakley, a 61-year-old businessman from Whitby, North Yorkshire.
Three Irish women, all in their mid 20s, were also on the Air France Airbus A330 flying from Rio de Janeiro to Paris. They were named locally as Aisling Butler, of Roscrea, Co Tipperary, Jane Deasy of Dublin and Eithne Walls, originally from Belfast.
The three best friends, who were forging promising careers as doctors, were returning home after a holiday in Brazil with other friends who graduated with them from Trinity College Dublin two years ago. A Welsh woman was also among the group of friends on the flight.
A total of 228 people were on board the Airbus A33-200, including 12 crew. The passenger list of 216 people included 61 French, 58 Brazilians and 26 Germans, among the 32 nationalities on board. The crew was all French.