GENEVA, SWITZERLAND - A final report into a deadly mid-Atlantic Air France crash in June 2009 was released Thursday 5 July and blames equipment failure and human error for the accident.
The French investigating authority, the BEA, faulted malfunctioning speed sensors and pilot error for the crash of the Rio-to-Paris flight in which 228 people were killed.
The report, which came following a 23-month search for the “black box” flight recorder, says that the plane’s speed sensors had frozen or failed, and that the “captain had failed in his duties” and “prevented the co-pilot from reacting”.
The BEA report described a sequence of events in which the co-pilot warned of turbulence before the pilot left the cabin for a rest. It said the Airbus A330-203 flight was in stall mode, and began to lose speed when the co-pilot turned the plane’s nose up instead of down. When the pilot returned to the cabin, the plane was flying at 35,000 ft, but descending at 10,000 per minute. The co-pilot declares “I don’t have any more indications” and points the nose down.
BEA chief investigator Alain Bouillard explained that “The crew was in a state of almost total loss of control of the situation”, never realizing that the plane was in stall mode.
Passengers were never informed by crew that anything was wrong with the flight prior to the crash.
The report added 25 new safety recommendations to 25 recommendations made in a 2011 preliminary report, including improved pilot training and better warning systems.
Soon after the crash, Airbus replaced speed monitors on all of its A330 and A340 craft.