Last contact with the Air France airplane was when it was near Senegal

By Dialogo
June 02, 2009

Río de Janeiro, 01 June (EFE).- According to official sources, the A330-200 Air France Airbus with 228 passengers onboard that disappeared as it was flying between Río de Janeiro and Paris, had its last contact with Brazilian Air Traffic Controllers when it was about to enter into Senegal’s air space. The Air Force Command indicated in a report that this contact occurred last night at 22:33 hours local time (01h33 GMT). The report indicated that “At 22:33, flight AF 447 had its last radio contact with the Atlantico Area Control Center operated by (Cindacta III), when it was located at the INTOL position (the denomination of a point along the route which is located 565 kilometers from Natal), in order to report that it would be entering into the air space at Dakar, Senegal (the Tasil position) at 23:30 hours local time (02h20 GMT). According to the Air Force, fifteen minutes after this last contact (02h48GMT), the plane disappeared from the radar screens near the Fernando de Noronha archipelago, off the Brazilian coast and at that time, it was flying “normally at an altitude of 35,000 feet and at 840 kilometers per hour”. According to the French airline, the plane had taken off from Río de Janeiro on Sunday night and there were 216 passengers and 12 crew members aboard the flight. The Brazilian report adds that at 02h20GMT, the time at which the plane should have entered into Senegal’s air space, that “the Air France plane did not make the scheduled radio contact with Cindacta III, and that at that point, they alerted the Air Control Tower at Dakar”. The Air Force reported that the airline had informed them this morning that when the plane was located approximately 100 kilometers from the Tasil position, that the plane had “sent a message for the company in order to notify them of technical problems on the plane (loss of cabin pressurization and a malfunction of the electrical system)”. The Brazilian authorities started search operations at 02:30 hours local time (05h30 GMT) from the Recife Air Base, the capital of the state of Pernambuco (Northeast). A C-130 Hercules airplane, a P-95 Bandeirante offshore patrol plane and the Air-Land Rescue Flight Squadron participated in the rescue mission.