Air France jet broke apart before hitting water


After the discovery of two trails of bodies more than 80 km apart, investigators have concluded that the plane split into two parts, as it lost control in bad weather and turbulence during its flight from Rio de Janeiro to Paris on June 1.

Examination of bodies discovered off the northeastern Brazilian coast indicated that they were dead by the time they hit the water, according to a report in The Sunday Times.

They were stripped off clothes, apparently in the rush of air as they fell from as high as 35,000 ft. Multiple fractures were most likely to have been caused by hitting the water at about 120 mph.

The absence of any traces of an explosion supports the view that the disaster was caused by a combination of factors, possibly beginning with the blockage of speed sensors. The sensors, called pitot tubes, are prone to get clogged with ice and insects.

Pierre-Henri Gourgeon, Air France’s chief executive, said that malfunctioning speed sensors could have been “a contributing element” in the accident, the newspaper reported.

“We do not deny that there is a problem with the sensors,” he said.  “But we cannot say that this is the cause of the accident.  We do not know.” The recovery of the “vertical stabiliser” from the tail of the aircraft has strengthened suspicions that the plane went out of control and broke up as a result of flying either too slowly or too quickly in turbulence, the report said.

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