AF447 crash investigators deliver report

French air accident investigators have today released their final report into what caused the crash of an Air France Airbus A330 flying from Rio de Janeiro to Paris in June 2009.

Pilot errors and faulty speed and other readings led to the crash which killed all 228 people aboard.

Read The Air France AF447 Dossier

Chief investigator Alain Bouillard of the Bureau d’Enquêtes et d’Analyses said the two pilots at the controls never understood that the aircraft was in a stall and ‘were in a situation of near total loss of control’. The report lists a combination of “human and technical factors” behind the crash.
In a preliminary report into the crash last July, pilots were said to have failed to react correctly after the Airbus aircraft’s speed sensors froze.
That report by the BEA stated that the pilots could have saved the aircraft after it temporarily lost its speed readings, rather than pulling the aircraft up to a height at which it fatally stalled.
A separate judicial report, due to be presented to victims’ families next week, is understood likely to reiterate that both pilot error and malfunctioning speed sensors were responsible. Air France last year defended its pilots, saying the aircraft’s alert system had failed. Both Air France and Airbus are being investigated for alleged manslaughter in connection with the crash
The conclusions of today’s report end three years of investigation into what caused the crash and has already resulted in wide-ranging changes in the way pilots are trained to react when confronted with a high-altitude crisis.
BEA officials last year said they were bringing together a range of experts, from psychologists to physiologists, to try to reconstruct the scene from the crew’s perspective.
AF447 Final Accident Report
Pilot Transcription
Bloomberg News Report


  1. The BEA report is a whitewash of the fact that the junior co-pilot flying panicked on hearing the stall horn and pulled the joystick fully back until it crashed at terminal velocity (124 mph), thinking he was in a low-altitude take-off and go-around. The crew had never been trained to handle high-altitude stalls; the fatal stall was pilot-induced!
    Unlike other flights that night, these Bozos hadn’t re-routed to avoid the storms and the weather radar had been set on the wrong range until it was too late. Captain’s fault. The captain then goes for a nap without designating command or replying to the junior pilot’s question about the inter-tropical convergence zone. Only the co-pilot not flying notices the weather radar discrepancy later and advises junior ‘Go left a bit’.
    Stinginess by Air France meant this plane’s pitot air-speed tubes had not been upgraded, so all 3 iced-up in the storm, causing dis-engagement of the autopilot. Junior pulls the plane up to its ceiling of 38,000 feet, then it plummets like a stone with its nose up in the rarified air.
    Chaos reigned: turbulence, popping ears, loss of data screens, warning horns. The pitot tubes came back online quite quickly, so they could have re-engaged the autopilot but the junior co-pilot flying was pulling the nose up for all he was worth. If he had only released the joystick the situation would have ameliorated, even stabilised, while they still had altitude.
    Captain eventually returns but doesn’t take the controls, or even notice that junior is pulling the joystick back like a maniac as the stall warning horn sounds 75 times. Crew discuss whether they are rising or falling while the fully-functional altimeter in front of them is spinning down at a rate of knots.
    Senior co-pilot in left seat fails to press over-ride button to disable junior’s joystick; at times they are both making inputs, and the A330 accepts dual control — oops — serious design fault there!
    Under control of The Three Stooges, a crash is inevitable. Lessons have been learned but Boeing’s dual-yoke system would have saved the day. Airbus is unlikely to relinquish its video-game joysticks as blame ricochets between the planemaker and Air France.

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