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Airline Pilots Advise "Stay Clear Of Thunderstorms"

by John M. White |

The loss of Air France flight 447 400 miles out over the Atlantic Ocean while enroute from Rio de Janeiro to Paris, France has ignited a lot of conversation between airline pilots and the media. Amongst all of the hyperbole I note that 4 hours 15 minutes into flight 447's trip the aircraft transmitted an automatic message reporting electrical faults. [ID:nL2381719] This goes along with some reports of the possibility of severe lightning in the area, and the possibility of a lightning strike or two to the aircraft. It is important to note that aircraft upset can occur if the aircraft was to fly into the top of one of these monsters, and would be more likely to be the cause than any other. Of course rumors are rampant, and Air France announced that some 5 days earlier it had received a bomb threat for a similar aircraft on the same route, but that flight operated normally and safely. While radar can detect water vapor it has no way to detect turbulence; however, it is well known that turbulence surrounds thunderstorms and can be particularly hazardous to aircraft operations. Most pilots will tell you that the best course of action is to avoid thunderstorms at all costs. Many times I have flown many miles to go around thunderstorm cells, and spent a lot of time looking for a safe gap in a line of thunderstorms to safely navigate to the other side. Let's hope that they can recover the black boxes (which are actually orange) and get more information as to what happened.  On a side note, someone asked an Air France representative if the Captain of the aircraft would have been at the controls at the time of the accident. For me I can't believe the Captain would be anywhere else when the aircraft was operating in an area of the world well known for very violent weather. Until next time keep your wings straight and level Hersch! JetAviator7 "High Flight" Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of earth, And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings; Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth Of sun-split clouds...and done a hundred things You have not dreamed of...wheeled and soared and swung High in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring there, I've chased the shouting wind along, and flung My eager craft through footless halls of air. Up, up, the long, delirious burning blue I've topped the windswept heights with easy grace Where never lark, nor even eagle flew. And while with silent, lifting mind I've trod The high untrespassed sanctity of space... ...put out my hand, and touched the face of God. by John Gillespie Magee, Jr.

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