Probe Finds Human Error In 2009 Air France Crash

Posted July 5th, 2012 at 5:40 pm (UTC-5)
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French investigators have found that a combination of human error and technical malfunction caused the fatal 2009 crash of an Air France jet flying from Rio de Janeiro to Paris.

Investigators Thursday said the Airbus 330 spun out of control at a very steep angle and was impossible to set right once it started to dive in bad weather. They said neither the pilot nor the co-pilot realized that the plane had stalled.

The captain of the aircraft, who was not at the controls at the time of the accident, pitched the plane sharply up instead of down when he resumed command.

Jean-Paul Troadec, director of Bureau of Investigation and Analysis (BEA), told a news conference near Paris that the situation was exceptional for a civilian pilot, and that even experienced military pilots would have had difficulty dealing with such an incident.

“This accident is the result of an exit of the normal flight envelope of the plane by a crew who had lost awareness of the situation. This category of accidents has emerged for about 10 years as being the most deadly in terms of public transport. It concerns planes of classic conception as well as modern planes with a high level of technology; Boeing as well as Airbus.”

In terms of technical problems, the investigation found that important speed sensors on the outside of the plane had frozen over and malfunctioned. As a result, the crew lacked important computerized information on the aircraft's angle and speed.

The Airbus 330 crashed into the Atlantic Ocean at high speed and disintegrated. It took almost two years to find pieces of the wreck and the vital so-called “black boxes” with recordings from the fatal flight.

The Bureau of Investigation and Analysis has recommended 25 new measures to make flying safer, including better training for pilots and stricter aircraft certification rules.

Magistrates are investigating Air France and Airbus for alleged manslaughter of the 228 who were killed on the flight on June 1, 2009.