French Officials Expect Castastrope With Missing Plane

06.01.09 | FL News Team

French officials are now expecting the worst in the search for an Air France flight that disappeared over the Atlantic Ocean overnight. Flight 447 took off from Rio De Janiero last night and was expected to land in France shortly after 11 a.m. Paris time. A spokesman for the Brazilian Air Force said the plane was already "well advanced over the Atlantic" when it lost contact and dropped of the radar screens about three-and-a-half hours into the flight.

Representatives from the French government do not believe the plane was hijacked.  The airline is now saying Flight 447 sent an automatic message reporting an electrical problem about 15 minutes after hitting strong turbulence from a storm. The Air France Chief Executive Pierre-Henri Gourgeon told reporters, quote, "We are probably facing an air catastrophe."   

Air France officials said the Airbus 330-200 was carrying 12 crewmembers and 216 passengers, including seven children and one baby. They described the pilots as highly experienced. Military planes from Brazil and South Africa have launched a search mission in the Atlantic Ocean.