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Air France Flight 358

August 4th, 2005 · No Comments

As per usual with an incident like this there are many conflicting reports. Eye witness accounts of the plane hitting the ground very hard on the first touch down to eye witnesses saying that the initial landing was very normal and people were actually clapping until a few seconds later when the plane was shaking violently while going down the runway.

My initial thought yesterday which I haven't seen reported until today was that weather was likely the main culprit here. At about the time of the crash I was working on some Google Earth stuff and I just happened to be pulling in radar images. I was thinking at the time that these were some of the most severe radar images I've seen in a few years. I look at radar images for this area on almost a daily basis as I have a customized weather page I use for myself. I actually have an image of that radar image although since it also includes confidential information I'm not going to post it here. And of course around the same time there were severe thunderstorms in our immediate area and likely all around Toronto. Another report about the weather before we even knew about the plane crash came in from a tech support guy who came into the office for around 4pm. He said the hail was so bad that cars pulled over on the highway (likely near the airport) because it was just too dangerous to drive.

I finally hear about this today in this article:

Toronto's airport was under “red alert'' because of the threat of lightning when an Air France jetliner landed in a fierce rainstorm despite having enough fuel to reach another airport – a decision that was made by the pilot, airport authorities said Wednesday.

I'm sure when they put two and two together they'll determine this was caused by weather and a bad decision by the pilot. I wonder if that pilot should have listened to warnings that the ground controllers likely gave him.

Then again, it reminds me of a time a few years back when I went up with my flight instructor. He explained that there was weather to the north of the airport but it was likely not moving towards the airport and even if it did we could slip around it. I remember very distinctly advice from the tower suggesting we probably shouldn't go up. Then the last words from the tower were “good luck”. The pilot tells me they must be really concerned because they never say anything like that. We took off anyway. In a manner of minutes we found ourselves in practically white out conditions from a snow storm that engulfed us. The pilot was pretty calm and after some serious flying got us back down on the runway safely. It was till afterwards that I realized how serious the situation was. He seemed really relived while I was thinking at the time it was a pretty cool experience. After some thought and seeing the pilots reaction on the ground did it hit me the seriousness of the situation. Good thing he was mostly calm while flying that is for sure.

And as per usual these days a great place for news information is Wikipedia and can be found here.

Update: Found audio from the control tower during the time of the crash. You can hear them diverting planes around weather and such.

Category: General


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