Though searchers believe that they have found debris from an Air France jet that disappeared off Brazil's coast Monday, finding the entire plane and learning exactly what downed it could be a tedious, years-long process.
Many factors can complicate a search effort. Tradewinds and ocean currents can quickly scatter wreckage across several square miles, and the plane's altitude - almost 7 miles, in the case of Flight 447 - can make it difficult to pin down where the aircraft hit the water.
"It's a big ocean," said John Hansman, director of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's International Center for Air Transportation. "Once you're offshore, you're no longer in direct radar contact."
It varies from airline to airline, but passenger jets generally send location reports every few hundred miles when they're over open water, Hansman said.
They also send out maintenance reports via satellite that provide the plane's location at a specific time. Some maintenance reports are routine; others are sent when a problem or malfunction is detected, Hansman said.
Flight 447 was carrying 228 passengers and crew members from Rio de Janeiro to Paris, France. About three hours into the journey, more than 200 miles off Brazil's coast, the jet transmitted 10 maintenance reports: one for each piece of malfunctioning equipment, the professor said.
About 10 to 15 minutes later, when the Airbus A330 was scheduled to be over the Canary Islands - where the radio would generally function better, because the plane is over land - Flight 447 was expected to send a location report but didn't, Hansman said.
"You don't know that you lost contact until it didn't make its position report," he said, but "missing one position report is not that big a concern. When it didn't check in over the Canary Islands ... that's when they realized something was seriously wrong."
CEO, Green For All
Yesterday morning, an icon of American industry announced its failure – and 21,000 American workers woke up without jobs.
General Motors filed for bankruptcy and will shut down nine U.S. plants.
At a time when the United States economy is already hemorrhaging jobs, the failure of an established industry giant leaves us to confront hard questions – What went wrong? And what is the future of American industry?
What went wrong?
GM doubly undermined the U.S. economy – killing jobs for American workers by taking manufacturing overseas and running the company into the ground by failing to remain competitive with foreign auto companies.
The company repeatedly rejected improving the environmental and safety standards of its vehicles and shipped thousands of American jobs overseas. Meanwhile, Japanese and German cars improved their gas mileage and safety – and foreign auto industries took off.
Clayton M. Christensen and Michael B. Horn
Special to CNN
Historically the federal government has been a small investor in the nation's education system. With the recent economic stimulus bill, however, this changed virtually overnight.
There is great danger in the sudden and massive amount of funding - nearly $100 billion - that the federal government is throwing at the nation's schools. District by district, the budgetary crises into which all schools were plunging created the impetus for long-needed changes.
The most likely result of this stimulus will be to give our schools the luxury of affording not to change. This is borrowed money that we're pumping into our schools, and it comes at a price. Charging education isn't changing it.
That our schools need to change should not be surprising. Just walk into your local school and enter a classroom. Odds are high that it won't look too different from a classroom from a generation or two ago.
Sure, there might be some computers in the back of the room and perhaps an interactive white board instead of a chalkboard, but chances are high that students will still be sitting at desks lined up in neat rows with a teacher at the front delivering the same lesson on the same day to all the students. This might be acceptable if society and the skills many people need to succeed in today's economy hadn't changed either, but they have.
Washington Post Staff Writer
This part happens all the time: A construction crew putting up an office building in the heart of Tysons Corner a few years ago hit a fiber optic cable no one knew was there.
This part doesn't: Within moments, three black sport-utility vehicles drove up, a half-dozen men in suits jumped out and one said, "You just hit our line."
Whose line, you may ask? The guys in suits didn't say, recalled Aaron Georgelas, whose company, the Georgelas Group, was developing the Greensboro Corporate Center on Spring Hill Road. But Georgelas assumed that he was dealing with the federal government and that the cable in question was "black" wire - a secure communications line used for some of the nation's most secretive intelligence-gathering operations.
Program Note: Tune in tonight to hear more about domestic terrorism on AC360° at 10 p.m. ET.
Daveed Gartenstein-Ross and Laura Grossman
The Center for Terrorism Research
This study, Homegrown Terrorists in the U.S. and U.K.: An Empirical Study of the Radicalization Process, is a product of over a year and half of research into the phenomenon of homegrown terrorists–Westerners who have chosen to take up arms against the society in which they were born or raised.
Homegrown Terrorists in the U.S. and U.K. examines six different steps are particularly significant as homegrown terrorists radicalize: the adoption of a legalistic interpretation of Islam, coming to trust only a select and ideologically rigid group of religious authorities, viewing the West and Islam and irreconcilably opposed, manifesting a low tolerance for perceived religious deviance, attempting to impose religious beliefs on others, and the expression of radical political views.
These steps have recurred frequently among homegrown terrorists, and they help to provide insight into these individuals’ state of mind as they hurtle toward the embrace of violence again innocents.
Three commercial ships were expected to arrive Tuesday at an Atlantic Ocean debris field that may be connected to an Air France jet that disappeared Monday with 228 people on board, Brazilian aviation officials said.
Earlier Tuesday, searchers found an airplane seat, an orange life vest, small white fragments, an oil drum and signs of oil and kerosene about 700 kilometers (435 miles) northeast of the Fernando de Noronha archipelago, Brazilian Air Force spokesman Jorge Amaral said.
There was not enough material to officially say it is wreckage from Flight 447, Amaral said.
Program Note: Tune in tonight to hear more about the DREAM Act and who it may impact on AC360° at 10 p.m. ET.
From the Senate's version of the DREAM Act:
A bill to amend the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 to permit States to determine State residency for higher education purposes and to authorize the cancellation of removal and adjustment of status of certain alien students who are long-term United States residents and who entered the United States as children, and for other purposes.
CNN Washington Bureau
America’s highest ranking military officer said Tuesday the military must do a better job for the mental health of American soldiers as they return home from battle warning statistics show “there are going to be more (troop) suicides this year than last.”
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen said as troops come home, the military is lacking the necessary amount of mental health professionals to help them deal with the high stress of war. Mullen said he’s working to get more funding to increase the number of counselors so more soldiers can be helped.
Editor's Note: Dr. George Tiller, whose Kansas women's clinic frequently took center stage in the U.S. debate over abortion, was shot and killed while serving as an usher at his Wichita church Sunday morning. Since his murder, much attention has been devoted to late-term abortions. AC360° guest Lynda Waddington had a late-term abortion and spoke with Anderson over the phone for an exclusive interview about her experience.
Anderson Cooper: Lynda, first of all, what's your reaction to the murder of Dr. Tiller?
Lynda Waddington: My gut reaction is just sadness. To think that someone who had helped me in such a horrible time in my life, an event that most likely saved my own life could be gunned down and killed for that is just surreal and profound.
Cooper: And the reason we're talking to you on the phone is that you didn't want to appear on camera. You're allowing us to use your name but you're fearful about appearing on camera. Why? Have you received threats in the past?
Waddington: Correct. I have. Nothing recently, but emotions are running very high, I think, on both ends of the spectrum after Dr. Tiller's death. And I have young children at home.