June 14, 2009 in Nation/World

Message mentioned rudder problem on jet

Associated Press
Associated Press photo

A boat searches for debris in the Atlantic Ocean on Saturday near the crash site of Air France Flight 447.
(Full-size photo)

RIO DE JANEIRO – A burst of automatic messages sent by Air France Flight 447 before it crashed includes one about a problem with a rudder safety device but lacks decisive clues as to what sent the jet plunging into the Atlantic Ocean two weeks ago, an aviation expert said Saturday.

The industry official, who has knowledge of the Air France investigation, told the Associated Press that a transcript of the messages posted on the Web site EuroCockpit is authentic but inconclusive.

One of the 24 automatic messages sent from the plane minutes before it disappeared May 31 with 228 on board points to a problem in the “rudder limiter,” a mechanism that limits how far the plane’s rudder can move. The flight was headed from Rio de Janeiro to Paris through an area of fierce thunderstorms.

The nearly intact vertical stabilizer – which includes the rudder – was fished out of the water last week by Brazilian searchers.

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