Brazilian and French military jets are conducting searches of the Atlantic Ocean, in hopes of finding wreckage from the Paris-bound Air France Flight 447 that disappeared a few hours after taking off from Rio de Janeiro on Sunday night. Brazil's largest airline, TAM, reported that a crew member saw "several orange points" on the ocean's surface yesterday morning, over the same route the Air France flight was taking.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who told relatives of the flight's passengers that their loved ones might not be found, asked for U.S. satellites to help locate the jet which was carrying 228 people; authorities also asked for commercial ships in the area between Brazil and Africa to help search.
One hypothesis for the plane's trouble is that it headed into extremely violent weather; experts say the Airbus 330 is "designed to withstand a storm's lightning and turbulence" and that pilots are trained to fly over such storms. However, that part of the equator can have "rapidly developing thunderstorms can tower up to 50,000 feet." The pilot is described as very experienced, with "11,000 flying hours, including 1,100 hours in the Airbus 330."
Update: According to the AP, Brazil's air force has spotted signs of plane wreckage about 375 miles from the coast.