Air France jet was flying 'too slowly'

Investigation teams find debris in the Atlantic spread over more than 55 miles of ocean

Air France jet was flying 'too slowly'

The Air France jet that crashed into the Atlantic Ocean on Monday was flying too slowly ahead of the disaster, Le Monde newspaper said on Thursday, citing sources close to the inquiry.

The paper said the manufacturer of the doomed plane, Airbus, was set to issue a recommendation advising companies using the A330 aircraft of optimal speeds during poor weather conditions.

Airbus declined to comment on the report and the French air accident investigation agency, which has to validate any such recommendations, known as an Aircraft Information Telex, was not immediately available for comment.

Flash of light

A Spanish newspaper said a transatlantic airline pilot reported seeing a bright flash of white light at the same time the Air France flight disappeared.

“Suddenly we saw in the distance a strong, intense flash of white light that took a downward, vertical trajectory and disappeared in six seconds,” the pilot of an Air Comet flight from Lima to Madrid told his company, the El Mundo newspaper reported.

The Air France A330-200 was en route from Rio de Janeiro to Paris when it splintered over the Atlantic four hours into its flight. All 228 people on board died.

The plane sent no mayday signals before crashing, only automatic messages showing electrical faults and a loss of pressure shortly after it entered a zone of stormy weather.
Portuguese newspaper Estado de Sao Paulo, citing a source close to Air France, published what it said was the final sequence of messages, showing how the plane rapidly lost its key flight functions.

It said they began at 0210 GMT showing the automatic pilot had been removed. The same minute there were multiple electricity failures. At 0214 GMT a final message was sent showing the plane was plunging towards the sea.

Debris found

Search crews flying over the Atlantic have found debris from the jet spread over more than 55 miles of ocean.Brazilian Defence Minister said the existence of large fuel stains in the water ruled out an explosion.

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