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Other News: Pilots Spot Air France Flight Wreckage

June 2, 2009 at 6:10 PM EST
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JIM LEHRER: In other news today, Brazil confirmed finding wreckage from an Air France passenger jet 400 miles out in the Atlantic Ocean, but there were no signs of life. The airliner with 228 people on board vanished Sunday night.

We have a report narrated by Carl Dinnen of Independent Television News.

CARL DINNEN: French and Brazilian military aircraft have been scanning the area around Flight AF447′s last-known position. A Brazilian airliner had reported seeing bright spots on the surface of the ocean.

SPOKESMAN (through translator): A TAM Airlines flight saw many orange spots in the ocean. It is possible that these were a series of small fires.

CARL DINNEN: Brazilian military aircraft have also now reported seeing airplane seats, jet fuel, and other debris. When the final message from the plane was received at 2:14 GMT, the position was given as here. A NASA weather satellite took this image half-an-hour later, showing a significant storm in the area.

In France, the relatives are being cared for at a Paris hotel. As they wait, more information has emerged from Air France sources about the ACARS digital data link from Flight AF447. At 2:10 GMT, an automated message said the auto-pilot had disengaged and there was a fault in one of the computers flying the plane.

From 0211 to 0213, faults with the ADIRU navigational system were signaled in a flurry of messages. Then, a system that provides the instrument readings, the PRIM 1, reported a fault. The final message, at 0214, concerned vertical cabin speed, suggesting a catastrophic change in cabin pressure.

Only the black box flight recorder can reveal the full story. The search teams now have 30 days before it stops emitting its signal beacon. They will have a clearer idea of where to look for it, if and when the serial numbers on the parts spotted in the ocean today are recovered.

JIM LEHRER: What’s left of the plane could be in water that’s more than four miles deep. France said today it will send unmanned submarines to look for the wreckage.

In Iraq, a roadside bombing in eastern Baghdad killed an American soldier. The attack followed a deadly month, with 25 Americans killed in May. More than 4,300 U.S. troops have died since the war began.

Despite recent violence, American combat forces will leave Iraqi cities by the end of this month. The overall commander, Army General Ray Odierno, said today it’s important to abide by that agreement.

Republican Congressman John McHugh is the new choice for secretary of the Army; President Obama announced his nomination today. McHugh was first elected in 1992, and he’s now the ranking Republican on the House Armed Services Committee. He would join two other Republicans — Defense Secretary Gates and Transportation Secretary LaHood — in the Obama administration.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-il has apparently settled on his successor: his 26-year-old son. Major South Korean newspapers reported today Kim Jong-un was chosen over two older brothers. He’s said to speak English and to have a military background. The elder Kim is 67 and had an apparent stroke last summer.

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger appealed to state lawmakers today to deal with a huge deficit. California faces a $24 billion shortfall, and it could run out of cash by late July. Schwarzenegger told a joint session of the legislature, the only way out is to make deep budget cuts.

GOV. ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER (R), California: People come up to me all the time, pleading, “Governor, please don’t cut my program.” I see the pain in their eyes, and I hear the fear in their voice. And I hear the demonstrations outside of our Capitol. It’s an awful feeling, but we have no choice. Our wallet is empty, our bank is closed, and our credit has dried up.

JIM LEHRER: The governor has ruled out raising taxes, and state voters refused last month to raise new revenues.

Hawaii also faces a fiscal emergency, and today, Governor Linda Lingle ordered state employees to start taking unpaid furloughs each month. The three-day breaks begin next month.

On Wall Street today, the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 19 points to close above 8,740. The Nasdaq rose 8 points to close above 1,836.