Missing jet's 'autopilot shut down'

The flight's autopilot cut out and other electronic systems shut down one by one.

    Search crews have yet to locate the wreckage
    in the deep Atlantic waters [AFP]

    "There is a programme of replacement, of improvement," he said, adding that the planes that have not yet had the replacements completed were not necessaily dangerous.

    Conflicting readings

    Airbus urged all pilots of its jets to review the warning issued in July 2001 on how to respond if speed indicators record conflicting readings and forced the autopilot to stop.

    In depth

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    Search crews have yet to locate the wreckage in the deep waters of the Atlantic ocean, forcing investigators to rely on the automatic messages sent from flight AF 447.

    Chris Yates, an aviation analyst, told Al Jazeera that based on the automated messages it seems there may have been a fault with the speed sensors, but he stressed that it is only a possibility and not yet certain.

    "We are a long way off from even a basic idea as to what might have happened to this airplane," Yates said.

    "Perhaps at the point when that message was being sent [indicating the autopilot was off] the pilot had a problem and had taken control of the airplane himself."

    Early speculation suggested that bad weather may have caused the crash, although Arslanian said the conditions were not exceptional for the region.

    Yates cautioned against speculation at this moment in time.

    "We are far and away any clearer than we were on Monday as to the cause of this crash," he said.

    "Until we find wreakage and until we can assess that wreakage and hopefully find the flight data recorder and the cockpit voice recorder, everything is in the frame."

    Arslanian played down the idea that a bomb might have destroyed the aircraft, saying that 24 error messages clearly showed the onboard electronic systems had shut down one by one.

    "Really that would be truly astonishing," he said. "But that's not to say it is 100 per cent impossible."

    Search continues

    Search operations are continuing 1,000km off Brazil's northeast coast.

    While these latest developments suggest that a technical failure was the cause of the crash, until the black box flight recorders are found, there will be no certainty.

    Poor weather has been hampering searches by Brazilian teams who have so far recovered only unrelated debris, mistakenly identified as parts of the plane.

    Five Brazilian navy vessels are in the area as well as 12 Brazilian and French aircraft. French submarines and research vessels are also heading to the area.

    Families of those on board the disappeared plane have expressed frustration over the lack of physical evidence to prove that their loved ones are dead.

    Police have been collecting genetic samples in Rio from relatives of the victims to speed up the identification process should remains be found.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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