Pilots, malfunctions caused flight 447 crash

2012-07-04 20:16

Paris - A French report has found that human error and technical malfunctions caused the 2009 crash of an Air France flight from Rio de Janeiro to Paris that killed 228 people, a source close to the case said on Wednesday.

The judicial report - due to be presented to victims' families on Tuesday next week - has concluded that pilot error and malfunctioning speed sensors were responsible, the source told AFP.

The French aviation safety authority BEA is due on Thursday to present its final report on the June 2009 crash, a document eagerly awaited amid a row between Airbus and Air France about who ultimately bears responsibility.

The source said the separate 356-page judicial report found that speed sensors froze up and failed, but also that the "captain had failed in his duties" and "prevented the co-pilot from reacting".

The aircraft had entered a zone of turbulence two hours into the flight over the Atlantic when the autopilot suddenly disengaged, the BEA said in a preliminary report last year.

Shortly thereafter one instrument showed "a sharp fall" in airspeed and a stall warning sounded, indicating the plane was no longer being lifted by the air pushing under the wings, the BEA said.

As the two co-pilots struggled to understand what had happened, the captain, who had left the cockpit to take a rest, returned but did not retake control of the plane, it said.

Air France has insisted the pilots were not to blame, saying the stall alarm had malfunctioned.

French magistrates are investigating Air France and Airbus for alleged manslaughter over the crash, notably because of the malfunctioning speed sensors, known as Pitots.

The airline replaced the Pitots, manufactured by French company Thales, on its Airbus planes with a newer model after the crash.

Victims' families have previously alleged that the involvement of big French corporations such as Airbus and Air France was influencing the affair.

  • JOSAIS - 2012-07-04 21:02

    Why fly through well known turbulence and severe icing areas???

      hendrikvs - 2012-07-04 21:06

      Tried to save fuel I suppose. Bade decisions made by the captain even before take-off it seems.

  • delish7564 - 2012-07-04 21:18

    If they were warned about the sensors before, why were they not changed before the crash. Very easy to blame people who are no longer alive to defend themselves!

  • deepchund.ramchurren - 2012-07-04 21:41

    The usual, blame the dead (captain & co pilots). Dead men tell no tales. Seems like this investigation was a farce. - 2012-07-05 09:50

      A farce? You deduct that from a news24 report? come on.

  • Theo Ferreira - 2012-07-04 22:03

    I'm not a pilot, but logically the pilots were not looking at all the information at hand. I'm sure the altimeter was steady before they started reacting, that should have told them something was not right with the stall notification...but I guess that's easy to say when you are not in the pilot's seat. Pity the pilots didn't react appropriately, Air France should admit pilot error and get it over with, the families deserve the truth.

  • elvis.nkoana - 2012-07-04 22:24

    When the pitots tubes failed, the pilots didn't follow the standard procedure (which is to increase power/thrust and manually operate the airplane). The pitots tubes are very vital and Airbus subsidiary, Thales, should be held accountable together with Air France for their incompetent pilots and malfunctioning pitots.

      bob.macphearson - 2012-07-05 00:49

      Its easy to apportion blame when you're sitting in your chair at home, having the benefit of hindsight and not being in command of a 90 million dollar plane with over 200 people's lives in your hands.

  • elvis.nkoana - 2012-07-04 22:26

    Airliners use the route regularly, actually a passenger plane passes that point (where the Air France flight 447 disappeared) every 5 minutes.

  • michael.rose.3551 - 2012-07-05 08:08

    i thought the black boxes were never found. how do they know this?

      Mike - 2012-07-05 08:24

      The recorders were retrieved.

      michael.rose.3551 - 2012-07-05 13:53

      my bad. maybe my recollection was that they had trouble finding it.

  • roger.mutangadura - 2012-07-05 08:31

    How do you blame malfunctioning equipment and human error at the same time, it would be a very strange coincidence

  • tatsee - 2012-07-05 08:48

    NatGeo-I hope you are recording this for an EPIC Air Crash Investigation episode.

  • zlatan.valjevac - 2012-07-05 23:42

    The recordings stopped at 2 h 14 min 28. The last recorded values were a vertical speed of -10,912 ft/min, a ground speed of 107 kt, pitch attitude of 16.2 degrees nose-up, roll angle of 5.3 degrees left and a magnetic heading of 270 degrees.

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