Scroll down for updates. Last updated on June 6 at 12:01 a.m.
French authorities are urging searchers to show “extreme prudence” before identifying wreckage found in the Atlantic as being from Air France Flight 447, after Brazilian workers incorrectly publicized they had found debris from the missing plane Thursday.
New reports indicate that Brazil’s declaration that debris from the missing Airbus A330 had been found was premature, and as of yet no official evidence has been retrieved from the missing plane, CBC reports.
French Transportation Minister Dominique Bussereau said he regretted Brazilian search teams had publicized a recovery of debris from the plane Thursday. The recovered wooden cargo pallet was never on the plane, officials said. They’ve referred to the pallet as “sea trash,” of which there is a lot floating around in the ocean.
“It has been verified that the material did not belong to the plane,” said Ramon Borges Cardoso, general director of the Brazilian Aerospace Control Department, in Recife, Brazil, CNN reports. “It is a pallet of wood that is utilized for transport. It is used in planes, but on this flight to Paris, there was no wooden pallet.”
Bussereau later expressed the need for caution. “French authorities have been saying for several days that we have to be extremely prudent,” he said. “Our planes and naval ships have seen nothing.”
Earlier in the week searchers found two trails of wreckage, about 56 miles from one another. The debris included a life vest, pieces of metal, a jet seat, a 12 mile oil slick and what is believed to be a 23-foot piece of the plane. The items were picked up by helicopters and dropped onto three Brazilian naval vessels.
It has not yet been confirmed that any of these materials are from the missing plane, though it has been confirmed, by Cardoso, that the oil slicks are not. He said the slicks are too big and the quantity of oil found exceeded the amount on the plane, according to CNN.
“No material from the airplane was picked up,” he later added.
Probability of finding bodies low
Cardoso said Brazilian teams are focused on finding the bodies of the Flight 447 victims, though the likelihood of retrieval has decreased. “With every moment, the probability of finding the bodies decreases because more than 100 hours have passed since the accident and that possibility is more remote each time,” he said.
The black boxes have not yet been found. Without them investigators may never know exactly what happened to the plane and whether it was weather, electrical failure, foul play, or a combination that brought down the missing plane.
Currently, Bussereau said, French teams are focused on finding the underwater wreckage and the recorders. He added that with each passing day, the wreckage underwater will continue to sink into the mountainous underwater terrain and spread out as currents in the area are very strong.
Two mini-submarines will be deployed next week to aid in the investigation, one of which, the Nautile, was used to search the wreckage of the Titanic.
Speculation surrounding crash intensifies
A French agency investigating the crash cited brutal turbulence and an inconsistency in the speed readings as a probable factor in the crash, CBC reports.
Le Monde newspaper released a report yesterday claiming that the pilots of Flight 447 may have been flying at an incorrect speed through violent weather. According to the agency’s investigation, a plane must be flying at just the right speed through harsh conditions, too slow and the pilot could lose control, too fast and the plane could break apart.
However, it is not known at which speed the plane was traversing through the storm. The French Accident Investigation Agency said Thursday that the automated messages transmitted by the plane did not indicate speed, but did show conflicting readings on board, CBC reports.
Airbus recently issued reminders to pilots explaining what to do when on-air instruments give conflicting read-outs. They said the reminder in no way indicates that improper speed was the official cause of the Air France crash.
It is not officially known what caused the plane to crash and what role, if any, weather played in the tragedy.
Air France Flight 447 disappeared early Monday after submitting four minutes of automated messages that indicated electrical failure and a loss of cabin pressure. It is believed the plane crashed into the Atlantic Ocean, killing all 228 people on board.
CBC reports meteorologists say Air France Flight 447 entered a storm with 100 mph updrafts. The updrafts acted like a vacuum, sucking water up from the Atlantic, thousands of feet below. The moist air then quickly rose up to the plane’s altitude and immediately froze in the -40 F conditions.
The intense updraft would have also caused brutal turbulence.
Investigators are reportedly now checking whether the plane’s external probe that measures air pressure may have froze over, possibly because of the updraft, CBC reports.
Cardoso said debris believed to be from the plane has been spotted (the two wreckage trails found earlier) but cannot yet be retrieved or verified due to poor visibility and conditions, CBC reports.
“Aircraft are making visual recognitions on the different contacts but currently I am not sure that those contacts are really part of the aircraft,” said French air force Colonel Thierry Bon, reinforcing Cardoso’s claim.
The French navy announced it will be sending a nuclear submarine, the Emeraude, to aid other French and Brazilian vessels in the search. French Defense Minister Herve Morin said the Emeraude is equipped with surveillance apparatus that may help find the crashed plane’s recorder, according to CBC.
The sub isn’t expected to arrive on the scene until next week.
Meanwhile, Brazil’s Air Force flew some of the victims’ families from Rio to Recife so they could take a tour and ask any questions they may have had. Any remains found will be taken to the base in Recife, a northeastern Brazilian city.
Much has been made of French prosecutors opening a manslaughter probe into the case. This is a routine occurence when French citizens die overseas.
CNN reports a huge development. Apparently at least 12 planes traversed the sky along with Air France Flight 447, around the same time and in the same area, and none reported any seriously foul weather conditions.
Officials are now speculating that mechanical errors were the main cause of the crash, though weather is still thought to have played a part. One of the main crash theories is that the plane flew through bad weather at an improper speed, even though none of the dozen aircraft reported serious weather problems.
Aviation officials say that weather could still have played a part in the crash since patterns change very suddenly in the region and vary through short distances.
It has not yet been reported whether any of the other planes, besides the Air Comet plane headed by two Spanish pilots, saw Air France plunge into the Atlantic early Monday morning. Aviation officials also say that no single issue could have caused the crash of such a major airliner. Many things would have had to have taken place both on board and in the plane’s surroundings for it to die out and crash so suddenly.
The other planes landed safely at their destinations.