Air France 447 and pilot error: More questions than answers

Recently, the French found Air France flight 447’s black boxes nearly two years after the A330 crashed into the Atlantic Ocean off the coasts of Brazil. Hence, both Rob Mark of JetWhine and Brett Snyder of the Cranky Flier blog have written detailed posts about the accident that are well worth reading by all pilots (You can read Rob’s post here and Brett’s post here)

Starting with The Cranky Flier blog, Brett noted a few important or apparent facts about the accident:

    1. Pilots Were Not Inexperienced
    2. Turbulence Was Not a Factor
    3. Frozen Pitot Tubes Are the Likely Trigger
    4. Ultimately, the Pilots Screwed Up
    5. But the Pilots Aren’t To Be Blamed Completely

Specifically, Brett noted that irrespective of the frozen pitot tubes, the pilots deserve a great deal of blame. Before the autopilot was shut, the pilots noticed that they could not go higher than 35,000 feet due to weight and outside warm air. Hence, the pilots should have kept the plane where it was. Instead, they put the aircraft into a climb that led to a stall and then a crash into the ocean – going against a basic rule of flight as Brett then noted:

When an airplane stalls, that means its angle of attack (the angle of the wing as compared to the direction of the air) is too great. Fixing it is pretty straightforward and it’s something that gets trained at very basic levels

If your airplane stalls

Source: The Cranky Flier

However, Brett concludes that the pilots might have gotten so distracted by inconsistent speed readings, failure messages, the autopilot disconnecting and a really bad storm that they forgot the most critical thing they needed to do as pilots: Fly the aircraft.

Meanwhile, Rob Mark noted the many questions still surrounding the Air France flight 447 accident and concluded by saying:

The TV folks asked me, “Was there anything the pilots could have done to make their airplane fly again.” There was only one correct answer. “Absolutely. They could have reduced the angle of attack to a point where the airplane would once again fly.”

However and for some reason, the Air France flight 447 pilots never did – leaving one final question: Why?


2 Responses to Air France 447 and pilot error: More questions than answers

  1. Sue June 9, 2011 at 03:14 #

    "Pilots Were Not Inexperienced"…Oh My God! Mourning for those who died in this accident.


  1. The Air France 447 tragedy and the myth of the un-stallable airplane - Golf Hotel Whiskey - December 21, 2011

    […] the aircraft plunged into the Atlantic Ocean near Brazil (also check out our post from last June: Air France 447 and pilot error: More questions than answers). Apparently, there was chaos and confusion in the cockpit and the Popular Mechanics article does a […]

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