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Final report on Air France crash cites pilot error


07-06-2012 10:49 BJT

Unsure of whether to trust their technical readings, pilots of Air France Flight 447 likely didn’t know how to react to malfunctions in midair and that crucial delay may have caused the flight’s crash in the Atlantic Ocean on June 1, 2009, killing all 228 people on board, according to the results of a massive French investigation into the incident.

France’s Bureau of Investigation and Analysis spent more than two years searching for wreckage and data recorders in the aftermath of the horrific crash of the Airbus 330, en route to France from Brazil.

Released Thursday, the latest report essentially claims that as the plane's speed sensors failed and stall warning alarms blared throughout the cockpit, the pilots, for unknown reasons, failed to act. When they finally realized inaction was no longer acceptable, they were unsure of what to do.

By piecing together data and voice recordings from the ‘black boxes’ salvaged from the crash site, investigators found that the plane took three minutes and 30 seconds to plummet into the ocean, with no warning given to passengers; data shows the oxygen masks were never deployed. The tragedy, they ruled, was likely was a combination of ignored stall warnings and invalid speed sensor readings.

As the computer called out stall warnings, the voice data reveals the pilots didn’t discuss the situation. And when the plane made good on those threats and stalled out at 38,000 feet, the failed speed sensors further muddled the pilots’ decision making.


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