On the evening of Sunday May 30 2009, Flight Air France 447 took off from Rio de Janeiro and skirted the Brazilian coastline before heading out over the Atlantic Ocean on its journey to Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris. Its usual flight path would have taken it over Senegalese air space and then on to France. When the plane took off it seemed that everything was normal, even though it was heading towards a band of thunderstorms that had bubbled up mid Atlantic. This in itself was nothing unusual and the highly trained Air France pilots and crew were used to flying through such turbulence.
Four hours into the flight the airplane sent an automatic signal indicating that there had been an ‘electrical circuit malfunction ’. The autopilot was disconnected, either as a result of the malfunction or manually by the pilot trying to regain control of the plane. No further messages were received and soon afterwards the plane plunged into the ocean, killing all 228 passengers and crew on board. It is highly unlikely that anyone would have survived for long after the plane hit the water. The Brazilian navy was dispatched to carry out a search, but it soon became clear that they were looking for wreckage and bodies rather than survivors.
Such was the scale of the task that faced them that in spite of having state-of-the-art equipment, it was not until June 6 that the first bodies were found. Two days later the tail section was recovered. The search for the dead was finally called off at the end of June, by which time 51 bodies had been recovered. Those who perished were mainly Brazilian, French and German, but nationals of 29 other countries were among the dead.
When was the Flight Air France 447 Crash: The early hours of June 1 2009
Where was the Flight Air France 447 Crash: Midway across the Atlantic Ocean
What was the Flight Air France 447 Crash death toll: 228
You should know: The flight recorder has never been found and without it we will never know the full facts behind the loss of AF447. Air France reacted to the crash – the worst in its history – by replacing speed monitors in its Airbus fleet.