BEA Report on Air France AF447 Urges Better Pilot Training

The French Bureau d’Enquêtes et d’Analyse (BEA) has presented its final report on Air France flight 447, which crashed in the Atlantic Ocean on June 1 2009, killing all 228 people on board. One of the conclusion of the air crash investigators is that the pilots never realized that the aircraft was in a deep stall.

The cockpit voice recorder and the flight-data recorder revealed that the plane got into difficulty as its speed bled off when it crossed a zone of air turbulence en route to Paris from Rio de Janeiro. Freezing of the pitot tubes provided incorrect air speed data to the plane’s pilots and computer. The pilots responded disorganized to the erroneous readings and warnings received from their instruments. The least experienced pilot on board was in control and commanded the aircraft to climb. At 38,000ft it endedup in an high-altitude stall. From this point the aircraft never recovered, the crew never realized that the aircraft was in a stall. Three and a half minutes later, the aircraft plunged into the ocean.

The BEA report adds 25 new recommendations to the 16 already set out in the interim version, urging the European Aviation Safety Agency to take steps to improve training so pilots are fully aware of high-altitude handling characteristics of aircraft. Investigators also called for closer cooperation between pilots in emergency situations, along with some design changes to improve stall-warning systems on some Airbus model.

Read the full article at the Wall Street Journal website.

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