An Air France A330-200 flying from Rio de Janeiro to Paris overnight suffered an electric circuit fault while flying in a storm just before air traffic control lost all contact with the aircraft. Air France says AF447 flew into stormy conditions and heavy turbulence around 4 a.m. Paris time, or around four hours into the 11-hour flight. An automatic message about an electric fault was received around 4:14 a.m. Paris time. Air traffic control from Brazil, Africa, and France failed in efforts to contact the aircraft, which was flying far off the coast of Brazil at the time. The aircraft was carrying 216 passengers: 126 men, 82 women, seven children and a baby. Additionally, three pilots and nine cabin attendants were onboard. The pilot in command, who has not been named, had 11,000 flight hours and 1,700 on Airbus A330/A340s under his belt. The copilots had logged 3,000 and 6,600 flight hours each, with 800 and 2,600, respectively, on the Airbus type model. The aircraft, registered F-GZCP, was powered by General Electric CF6-80E1 engines. The A330 had logged 18,870 flight hours and entered service April 18, 2005, Air France says. The last hangar visit came April 16. The aircraft had taken off at 7:03 p.m. local time, or 12:03 a.m. Paris time (6:03 p.m. EDT). Air France says it has notified the French accident investigation office, the BEA. Airbus, meanwhile, says it is ready to assist. The crash in only the latest in a number of accidents Air France has suffered this decade, including the high profile July 2000 crash of a Concorde after takeoff from Charles de Gaulle killing 100 passengers and nine crew. In August 2005, the airline also suffered the loss of an A340-300, which overran the runway in poor weather conditions. All onboard survived.
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