By Calvin Palmer
Search crews have found eight more bodies from the Air France jet that crashed into the Atlantic Ocean, bringing the total of bodies recovered to 29.
The vertical stabilizer from the tail section of the Airbus A330-200 was found yesterday, according to Col Henry Munhoz, a spokesman for the Brazilian airforce.
William Waldock, who teaches air crash investigation at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott, Arizona, said the damage he saw looks like a lateral fracture.
“That would reinforce the idea that the plane broke up in flight,” he said. “If it hits intact, everything shatters in tiny pieces.”
Examining the fracture surfaces will also be key, he said, since it will indicate from what direction the force came that snapped the piece.
Investigators are also looking at the possibility that external speed monitors — called Pitot tubes — iced over and gave false readings to cockpit computers in a thunderstorm.
An official with the pilots’ union, Alter, yesterday said there is a “strong presumption” among its members that a Pitot problem precipitated the crash. The airline should have grounded all A330 and A340 jets pending the replacement, citing a “real risk of loss of control” due to Pitot problems.
Air France said it began replacing the Pitot tubes on its Airbus A330 fleet on April 27 after an improved version became available, and will finish the work in the “coming weeks”.
The speed monitors had not yet been replaced the Flight AF 447 aircraft that crashed.