Monday, June 1, 2009

I love flying Airfrance... this is not good

I hope they were able to land somewhere. Il faut voir. 228 people... and the AB 330-200 had GE engines on it. Not good.


  1. "loss of cabin pressure"Definitely, not good. =(

    "Meteorologists said tropical storms are much more violent than thunderstorms in the United States and elsewhere.

    "Tropical thunderstorms ... can tower up to 50,000 feet (15,240 meters). At the altitude it was flying, it's possible that the Air France plane through directly into the most charged part of the storm — the top," Henry Margusity, senior meteorologist for, told The Associated Press. "

  2. Just curious, since my fear of flying is irrationally great....what would happen to one of those planes if it were struck by lightning? One of the news reports mentioned this was a possibility. Can those engines survive something like that?

  3. Ferdi,
    all western aircraft, from commercial, to private, to military, are designed to resist lightening strikes. Scientific American has a good article on it here .

    The engines can handle lightening, small bird strikes, ice ingestion, all sorts of things. For a complete list of "air worthiness testing" and standards see here. I'd be more concerned about multiple lightening strikes on the electronics (avionics) where the first one damages it, the 2nd one weakens it more, and the 3rd or 4th or 10th one wipes out the electronics, which then makes the plane really hard to fly (impossible to fly, for these new fly-by-wire aircraft that no longer have control cables running from the cock pits to the air control surfaces). Testing for lightening strikes is extensive, but Mother Nature makes Much More Powerful (read as GIGA volts and GIGA WATTS, and not just MEGA volts) bolts of lightening than testing labs can.

    Once, when flying from Houston to Monterrey Mexico, around dusk, we zig-zagged around some Serious anvil headed thunderstorms. I watched as the wing tips of the Boeing 737 were struck twice, and on the 2nd one, the lights blinked off, and then came back on. I've also been on small NW Airlines Canada Regional Jets that have been hit by lightening (1 that I saw hit the wing, another that I believe happened but I didn't SEE the strike) and we didn't experience any serious problems. (these are the personal experiences I base my judgment and hypothesis upon, concerning multiple lightening strikes).

    Lastly, the engines are less likely to be struck than the nose & wingtips. Of course any part of the air frame CAN be struck, but Mother Nature's static discharges like to normally take the "shortest path" of "least resistance". Why go all the way over to the engine, when the nose or wing tips are closer to an approaching lightening bolt?

    If / when they find the flight recorder of the lost AF447, I would not be surprised if multiple lightening strikes and severe high altitude (35K) wind shear were recorded, that when combined, lead to catastrophic failure.


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