Flight 447 Autopilot Not On Before Crash
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 6, 2009 7:02 AM CDT
Antonio de Orleans e Braganca, left, father of Prince Pedro Luiz de Orleans, and relatives of victims of Air France Flight 447 react during a mass at a church in Rio de Janeiro, Friday, June 5, 2009.    (AP Photo/Silvia Izquierdo)
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(Newser) – Signals sent by Air France Flight 447 before it disappeared show its autopilot was not on, the head of the French agency leading the investigation into the crash said today, though it was not clear if it had been switched off or had stopped working because it received conflicting airspeed readings. Airbus says the investigation found the flight received inconsistent readings from different instruments as it struggled in a massive thunderstorm.

Investigators are analyzing 24 messages sent automatically by the plane during the last minutes of the flight, and trying to determine the location of the debris based on the height and speed of the plane at the time the last message was received. Searching a zone of several hundred square miles, they are attempting to locate a beacon called a "pinger" that should be attached to the cockpit voice and data recorders, now presumed to be deep in the Atlantic.