Air France Airbus A330-200 jet, registration #F-GZCP, bound for Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris, disappeared off the radar screen at 1:33 a.m. ET. According to Air France officials, the flight encountered electrical problems in stormy weather.
The flight from Rio de Janeiro, carrying 216 passengers and a crew of 12 is missing and presumed to have crashed. The passenger roster lists 126 men, 82 women, seven children and a baby, in addition to the crew of three pilots and 9 flight attendants. To assist families of AF 447, seeking access to the passenger list, several international phone numbers have been established - see below.
A search has been launched near the island of Fernando de Noronha in the Atlantic Ocean, 226 miles from the Brazilian coast. Several Brazilian squadrons have been combing the waters for the doomed aircraft.
The AF 447 flight from Brazil to Paris took off at 6:00 p.m. ET with a scheduled landing of 5:15 a.m. ET. The Airbus A330-200 sent automatic messages at 10:15 ET, signaling equipment failure as it hit turbulence early in the flight, according to Air France CEO Pierre-Henri Gourgeon at a news conference in Paris.
Gourgeon said that those operating the missing flight were a “particularly experienced crew”. He also mentioned that the Airbus was a state of the art aircraft with extremely reliable CF6-80E engines made by General Electric.
The missing Air France A330-200 had 18,870 flight hours and had been in service since April 18, 2005. The last maintenance check was undertaken on April 16, 2009. The pilot has 11,000 flight hours, 1,700 of them in A300/A340’s.
A crisis center has been set up at Charles de Gaulle to aid relatives and friends of the Flight AF 447 passengers