June 3, 2009

IF AL QAEDA WERE COMPETENT...:

Last Words of Flight 447: From a Robot (Clive Irving, 6/03/09, Daily Beast)

The Airbus system, called ACMS, Aircraft Condition Monitoring System, picks up during a flight any new fault that needs attention when the airplane reaches its destination. On the ground, the mechanics have spare parts ready, and know what to look for. That allows a flight to be up and away again without delay.

When Flight 447 was stricken, the ACMS system apparently sent a final burst of data—first to a satellite and then to the Air France maintenance center in Paris. It was, according to reports, several hours before this data was retrieved, at about the same time that it was established the airplane was missing over the Atlantic.

From this, one chilling picture emerges: Of a failure so sudden and so traumatic that the crew are disabled, perhaps already unconscious from violent G-forces.

The ACMS system, however, has a few more seconds of life and transmits. This does not, of course, describe what failed and why. Sudden events are usually of several kinds: an explosion triggered in a fuel tank by a spark or short circuit; a catastrophic decompression of the cabin, where the air is pressurized at the equivalent of an altitude of about 6,000 feet but where the outside pressure is far lower, so it pops like a burst balloon; or a structural failure, perhaps caused by extreme turbulence. There is also the possibility of a bomb, like the one that brought down the Pan Am 747 over Lockerbie in Scotland. This is being discounted because it is not consistent with the ACMS system’s indication of an electrical failure—and because of the violent electrical storm reported at the time.


...they'd have claimed "credit" for taking the plane down and then every rational argument that they didn't would be treated as a cover-up.

Posted by Orrin Judd at June 3, 2009 6:20 AM
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