"Typically, if you see intact bodies and multiple fractures — arm, leg, hip fractures — it's a good indicator of a midflight break up," said Frank Ciacco, a former forensic expert at the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board. "Especially if you're seeing large pieces of aircraft as well."Be sure to bookmark this post for review before your next flight. Also to remind yourself not to go to work in the forensics section of the NTSB.
The pattern of fractures was first reported Wednesday by Brazil's O Estado de S. Paulo newspaper, which cited unnamed investigators. The paper also reported that some victims were found with little or no clothing, and had no signs of burns.
That lack of clothing could be significant, said Jack Casey, an aviation safety consultant in Washington, D.C., who is a former accident investigator. "In an in-air break up like we are supposing here, the clothes are just torn away."
Casey also said multiple fractures are consistent with a midair breakup of the plane, which was cruising at about 34,500 feet (10,500 meters) when it went down.
"Getting ejected into that kind of windstream is like hitting a brick wall — even if they stay in their seats, it is a crushing effect," Casey said. "Most of them were long dead before they hit the water would be my guess."
When a jet crashes into water mostly intact — such as the Egypt Air plane that hit the Atlantic Ocean after taking off from New York in 1999 — debris and bodies are generally broken into small pieces, Ciacco said. "When you've had impact in the water, there is a lot more fragmentation of the bodies. They hit the water with a higher force."
... Much better to turn to the Onion: Investigators Determine Air France Disaster Caused By Plane Crash:
French and Brazilian authorities said their first hint that the tragedy was caused by a plane crash came last week, when divers recovered several large metal fragments from Air France Flight 447 that were not fused together in one solid mass, as is typical of a functioning aircraft. The fragments were then analyzed and found not to be airborne or otherwise soaring intact across the sky. The final clue, they said, was that certain key features of the crash site in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean seemed to be consistent with a huge commercial airliner having crashed there.
The discovery of deceased Flight 447 passengers further supported the so-called "plane crash" theory, as investigators claimed these men and women would most likely have already arrived in Paris had the Airbus jet not gone down.