If the missing Air France passengers and crew are confirmed dead – as looks increasingly likely – it would be the worst accident involving the Airbus A-330, and the first ever fatal accident for the smaller 200-series variant of the wide-bodied jet.
Euronews aviation correspondent Gianni Magi said: “The Airbus A-330 is one of the most used long haul planes in the world. There are about 600 in service, and a further 400 on the Airbus order-books. Until now, the Airbus A-330 has never had a serious accident.” Air France said the aircraft sent a series of automatic messages to warn of failures on board after it had flown through an area of heavy turbulence. A spokesman speculated that it had been hit by lightning. But Gianni Magi said: “Lightning itself can not bring down a passenger jet. It can complicate an existing problem, or it can spark off a series of breakdowns. But never in the history of aviation has a simple lightning strike made a plane fall out of the sky.” The truth of exactly what happened on flight AF 447 lies hidden in the two black-box data recorders carried by all airliners, but it’s likely they are lying deep below the Atlantic Ocean.