Air France Plane May Have Broken Apart in Air

FERNANDO DE NORONHA, Brazil (AP) - An airline industry official
says the messages that were sent automatically from a doomed Air
France jetliner Sunday night appear to tell "the story of the
airplane coming apart."

Amid doubts about whether the plane's black box recorders can
ever be recovered from the bottom of the ocean, investigators may
have to rely for clues on a series of automatic messages --
including a final one that signaled a loss of cabin pressure and
complete electrical failure. The aviation official, who has
knowledge of the investigation, says the plane may have already
been plunging toward the ocean -- perhaps in pieces.

One expert -- Bill Voss of the Flight Safety Foundation in
Virginia -- says the messages alone aren't enough to reveal why the
plane went down. He says they document the breakup of the plane and
the loss of control, but not the reasons.

Although the first Brazilian Navy vessel has arrived at the
crash scene, poor weather is delaying the arrival of deep-water
submersibles that could help locate the voice and data recorders.

The jet, with 228 people on board, was flying through towering
thunderstorms when it disappeared Sunday night on a flight from
Brazil to France.


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