Autopsy Reports from Air France Flight 447 Wreckage Seem to Rule Out Terrorism
Autopsies on the bodies recovered after the Airbus disaster in the south Atlantic suggest there was no explosion or fire and therefore no terrorist attack.
But two weeks after Air France’s AF447 fell from the sky between the Brazilian and West African coasts, the mystery of what happened to the plane and the 228 people on board remains largely impenetrable.
Autopsies have revealed fractures in the legs, hips and arms of Air France disaster victims, injuries that — coupled with the large pieces of wreckage pulled from the Atlantic — strongly suggest the plane broke up in the air, experts said Wednesday.
With more than 400 bits of debris recovered from the ocean's surface, the top French investigator expressed optimism about discovering what brought down Flight 447, but he also called the conditions — far from land in very deep waters — "one of the worst situations ever known in an accident investigation."
The post mortem reports from Brazil came as Air France announced that it had upgraded all speed probes on its long-haul A330 and A340 aircraft in the wake of the June 1 crash.
An investigation into the loss of AF 447 from Rio de Janeiro to Paris, in which an Airbus A330 jet plunged into the Atlantic with 228 people on board, has focused on the "inconsistent" readings from its airspeed sensors. Ice-clogged probes could have confused the plane's flight computers and led the pilots to fly too fast or too slowly into a storm.
The large number of fractures observed during autopsies performed so far, and the relatively large pieces of wreckage recovered, are consistent with a mid air breakup of Flight 447 Airbus 330.
"Typically, if you see intact bodies and multiple fractures — arm, leg, hip fractures — it's a good indicator of a midflight break up," said Frank Ciacco, a former forensic expert at the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board. "Especially if you're seeing large pieces of aircraft as well."