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How Pilots Wrestled In Vain to Save Air France Jet
Reuters ^ | Tim Hepher

Posted on 07/31/2011 9:31:55 AM PDT by lbryce

"What do you think? What do you think? What should we do?"

The 37-year-old Air France co-pilot with over 6,000 flying hours was running out of ideas as a stall alarm bellowed through the Airbus cockpit for the sixth time in exactly two minutes.

His junior colleague with two years on the job was already in despair as he battled to control the jet's speed and prevent it rocking left to right in pitch darkness over the Atlantic, on only his second Rio de Janeiro-Paris trip as an A330 pilot.

"I don't have control of the plane. I don't have control of the plane at all," the younger pilot, 32, said.

The captain was not present and it was proving hard to get him back to the cockpit, where his more than 11,000 hours of flying experience were badly needed.

"So is he coming?" the senior co-pilot muttered, according to a transcript released on Friday. Light expletives were edited out of the text here and elsewhere, according to people familiar with the probe into the mid-Atlantic crash on June 1, 2009.

The 58-year-old captain and former demonstration pilot had left 10 minutes earlier for a routine rest. In his absence the plane had begun falling at more than 200 km (125 miles) an hour.

"Hey what are you --," he said on entering the cockpit.

"What's happening? I don't know, I don't know what's happening," replied the senior co-pilot, sitting on the left.

With the benefit of black boxes hauled up 4,000 metres (13,000 feet) from the ocean floor just two months ago, investigators now say the aircraft had stopped flying properly and entered a hazardous stall, as its 3,900 square feet (362 sq metres) of wings gasped for air.

(Excerpt) Read more at in.reuters.com ...


TOPICS:
KEYWORDS: airbus; airfrance; disaster; flight447
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I overcome by a sense of absolute incredulity reading through the article about Flight 447's last four minutes before plunging into the sea, killing everyone on board. That the Captain on a break was slow to return to the cockpit, had to be summoned again, may very well have meant the difference with the extra time they would have otherwise had. It seems absolutely incredible to hear how the co-pilots respond to the dangers unfolding all around, sound more like Keystone Cops than the cool, secure pilots you would most certainly expect.
1 posted on 07/31/2011 9:32:00 AM PDT by lbryce
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To: lbryce

There’s going to be a lot of Sunday armchair QB’ing on this one. My two cents? They were in a stall situation and didn’t realize it. They hit the water almost flat (tail a bit down).


2 posted on 07/31/2011 9:36:06 AM PDT by SkyDancer (You know, they invented wheelbarrows to teach government employees how to walk on their hind legs.)
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To: lbryce

I don’t think these guys had a clue what their airspeed was.


3 posted on 07/31/2011 9:41:58 AM PDT by Phil Harmonic
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To: lbryce

I don’t think these guys had a clue what their airspeed was.


4 posted on 07/31/2011 9:42:26 AM PDT by Phil Harmonic
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To: lbryce

No mention of throttling up (whether they did or not)? I’d like read a full transcript of what was said, the media accounts of this are too disjointed. Journalists write what they think is important, and it’s pretty clear that they don’t know much about anything. (Journalism is the special olympics of college majors.)


5 posted on 07/31/2011 9:42:26 AM PDT by Excuse_My_Bellicosity (Liberalism is a social disease.)
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To: lbryce

So true. As much as I respect them in some venues, their Special Forces, for instance, the French are just so damn French. Honestly, I don’t understand how they can stand it. It’s like this all the time.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Aoqvq0Btn1c&feature=related


6 posted on 07/31/2011 9:42:51 AM PDT by definitelynotaliberal (There is no native criminal class except Congress. Mark Twain)
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To: lbryce

It didn’t sound that way to me.

It sounded like the plane was not responding and the instruments were having a serious malfunction...systemic

Two things of possible error stand out:

Captain coming in earlier rather than later

and why no response to the first stall warning...crickets

The rest they sounded reasonable to me but the bird just wouldn’t respond


7 posted on 07/31/2011 9:43:42 AM PDT by wardaddy (Palin or Bachman..either with Marco....I'm often on a .hence my spelling..sorry)
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To: SkyDancer
They hit the water almost flat (tail a bit down)

Is it known what the final descent rate was? Still something like 125 mph?

8 posted on 07/31/2011 9:43:42 AM PDT by steve86 (Acerbic by nature, not nurture (Could be worst in 40 years))
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To: SkyDancer

Semi agree. Pitch dark. Ice jammed instruments. Conflicting data from those that worked (perhaps partially, instruments get crazy if sensor ports blocked with ice then starts to melt away).


9 posted on 07/31/2011 9:45:23 AM PDT by Owen
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To: lbryce
Hey, when it's time for your break, it's time for your break.

What difference does it make if you're the captain of a passenger jet with hundreds of people aboard?

Your break time comes up, you take a break. That's it.

10 posted on 07/31/2011 9:46:44 AM PDT by Steely Tom (Obama goes on long after the thrill of Obama is gone)
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To: lbryce

Flying without visual on instruments that are not working is virtually impossible. The only thing that could possibly have saved them is the experienced captain’s intuition. He should have been at the controls as soon as he entered the cockpit.


11 posted on 07/31/2011 9:47:16 AM PDT by Born to Conserve
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To: steve86

Is it known what the final descent rate was? Still something like 125 mph?

That’s airspeed, not descent rate...and an almost fully fueled Airbus with no flaps is probably quite close to stall speed at 125 knots (not MPH).


12 posted on 07/31/2011 9:47:25 AM PDT by Phil Harmonic
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To: lbryce
Does anyone else see a metaphor here for the current debt limit debacle? President Obama as the captain dozing in the back and the clowns in the Congress as the two copilots? The Air France tragedy didn't take as long, but we have been in a stall for a long time and haven't yet put the spending nose down.

There are only three ways to get out of a stall, put the nose down, add power or do both. The nose has to be put down now, not sometime later; the spending throttles are as far forward as they can go.
13 posted on 07/31/2011 9:48:58 AM PDT by DanMiller (Dan Miller)
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To: lbryce

Oh, geez. I hate flying already, this didn’t help. I only fly about once every 2 years, home to visit my family. And I am anxiety-ridden and convinced I’m about to die from the minute that plane leaves the ground till we land again and come to a complete halt.


14 posted on 07/31/2011 9:49:33 AM PDT by A_perfect_lady (Islam is as Islam does.)
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To: SkyDancer

Wow, that destroys the breakup in flight theory. What was the visibility?


15 posted on 07/31/2011 9:49:53 AM PDT by Errant
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To: Steely Tom
Your break time comes up, you take a break. That's it.

Of course!

It's stated clearly in his union contract.

Someone fought for his right to a break.

16 posted on 07/31/2011 9:49:59 AM PDT by Retired Greyhound
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To: wardaddy
The rest they sounded reasonable to me but the bird just wouldn’t respond

Fly by wire, die by software.

17 posted on 07/31/2011 9:50:15 AM PDT by null and void (Day 920. When your only tools are a Hammer & Sickle, everything looks like a Capitalist...)
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To: A_perfect_lady

I suggest alcohol. Lots of alcohol.

Or Xanax.


18 posted on 07/31/2011 9:51:51 AM PDT by Retired Greyhound
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To: wardaddy
The data recorder was decoded a few weeks ago. The bottom line is the pilots in the cockpit did not how to fly the plane without the computer. European airlines hire pilots with no real flying experience.

They had a reliable backup instrument for airspeed, altitude, and attitude, but didn't use it.

19 posted on 07/31/2011 9:53:03 AM PDT by Moonman62 (The US has become a government with a country, rather than a country with a government.)
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To: Retired Greyhound

Greyhound, THAT was funny.


20 posted on 07/31/2011 9:53:14 AM PDT by Phil Harmonic
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To: lbryce

It is hard to understand why pilots would continue pulling back on the stick when the stall warning was going off; almost the first lesson in flying is to lower the nose when the stall warning sounds. However, it’s possible they didn’t trust the stall warning. They may have thought it was a false alarm.

When the pitot tube is blocked, the airspeed indicator starts acting like an altimeter; the higher the aircraft goes, the faster the airspeed reads; in reality the opposite is happening. The aircraft is slowing, and will stall if the nose isn’t lowered.

They were flying in bad weather at night, so probably had no visual reference outside the cockpit and had to rely solely on instruments. The way out of the problem is to fly pitch and power; use the artificial horizon to level the wings and keep the nose down, and a power setting known to give a safe airspeed.

I have to believe that the pilots were fooled by the avionics to think the situation was different than what it actually was.


21 posted on 07/31/2011 9:54:56 AM PDT by poindexter
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To: A_perfect_lady

That you are still around is a testament to the safety of flying.


22 posted on 07/31/2011 9:55:33 AM PDT by UB355 (Slower traffic keep right)
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To: lbryce

I blame Airbus for putting the pilots in that position, I blame the airline for not having properly trained pilots (as mentioned in a previous article), as well as flying a two-engine plane transatlantic (I know that wasn’t the issue here, but it’s still not the best idea), and I blame the pilots for not keeping their cool.

Regarding Airbus, I just don’t trust them.

In fact, I don’t trusts socialist countries to manufacture anything more complicated than a cigar.


23 posted on 07/31/2011 9:56:11 AM PDT by Retired Greyhound
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To: null and void
Fly by wire, die by software.

Yep, not to mention the possibility of malicious code, intentional or not.

24 posted on 07/31/2011 9:56:22 AM PDT by Errant
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To: Phil Harmonic

10K feet per minute (1.9 mi per minute) is about 115 mph


25 posted on 07/31/2011 9:56:55 AM PDT by hattend (As always... FUJM.)
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To: Errant
Yep, not to mention the possibility of malicious code, intentional or not.

Yeah, I always worry that I might insert some unintentionally malicious code in my apps.

26 posted on 07/31/2011 9:58:07 AM PDT by Steely Tom (Obama goes on long after the thrill of Obama is gone)
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To: Errant

Implicit in my comment...


27 posted on 07/31/2011 9:58:07 AM PDT by null and void (Day 920. When your only tools are a Hammer & Sickle, everything looks like a Capitalist...)
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To: UB355

Are you sure it’s not a testament to not getting on a plane more than once every 2 years?


28 posted on 07/31/2011 9:58:32 AM PDT by A_perfect_lady (Islam is as Islam does.)
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To: All

If it ain’t a Boeing, I’m not going.


29 posted on 07/31/2011 9:59:38 AM PDT by troy McClure
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To: All

If it ain’t a Boeing, I’m not going.


30 posted on 07/31/2011 9:59:53 AM PDT by troy McClure
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To: Phil Harmonic

Yeah, probably. Although I watched an F15 yesterday perform an actual descent rate of over 200 knots (but not for very long).


31 posted on 07/31/2011 9:59:53 AM PDT by steve86 (Acerbic by nature, not nurture (Could be worst in 40 years))
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To: SkyDancer
They were in a stall situation and didn’t realize it.

Absolutely. As the speed approached zero the warnings would stop. (The logic being the speed was impossible.) As the plane gathered speed but was still below stall, the warnings would start again. That's very confusing to pilots who don't know what they're doing. And probably confusing to pilots who do know what they're doing.

32 posted on 07/31/2011 10:00:46 AM PDT by Moonman62 (The US has become a government with a country, rather than a country with a government.)
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To: poindexter

“When the pitot tube is blocked, the airspeed indicator starts acting like an altimeter; the higher the aircraft goes, the faster the airspeed reads; in reality the opposite is happening. The aircraft is slowing, and will stall if the nose isn’t lowered.”

When the front of the pitot tube is blocked, the airspeed reads zero. When the entire pitot tube is iced over (both the front and the drain hole), then the airspeed acts like an altimeter and increases in a climb and decreases in a descent.


33 posted on 07/31/2011 10:01:24 AM PDT by CFIIIMEIATP737
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To: Steely Tom
Your break time comes up, you take a break. That's it.

Please, he took a scheduled break before the crisis hit (SOP).

34 posted on 07/31/2011 10:04:19 AM PDT by ExpatCanuck
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To: hattend

You know with all the confusion about climbing or descending — a simple altitude-indicating GPS would clarify that, as well as give horizontal speed and vertical speed with a simple calculation. No, I’m not saying Airbus pilots should carry a Garmin but then again?


35 posted on 07/31/2011 10:07:21 AM PDT by steve86 (Acerbic by nature, not nurture (Could be worst in 40 years))
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To: null and void
Your comment needed fleshing out.

The work of genuis is often times hard for mere mortals to descern... lol

36 posted on 07/31/2011 10:07:41 AM PDT by Errant
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To: poindexter
It is hard to understand why pilots would continue pulling back on the stick when the stall warning was going off;

As the airspeed approached zero, the warnings would stop. The logic or illogic in the software was that the speed was invalid. Combine that with poorly trained pilots with almost no experience actually flying an airplane in a difficult situation.

37 posted on 07/31/2011 10:08:16 AM PDT by Moonman62 (The US has become a government with a country, rather than a country with a government.)
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To: Errant

I think obscurity has kept me out of a great deal of trouble over the years...


38 posted on 07/31/2011 10:10:58 AM PDT by null and void (Day 920. When your only tools are a Hammer & Sickle, everything looks like a Capitalist...)
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To: A_perfect_lady

I used to be like you. When we landed safely, I always felt as if I had somehow ‘cheated’ death. When you arrive safely at your destination in an automobile, do you feel as if you dodged a bullet? It stems from your false sense of ‘control’ in a car. Do you have ‘control’ over other drivers speeding toward you in the opposite direction, separated by a painted line on the road? When I finally realized the silliness of my fear, I was cured. It is a tough phobia to overcome, however.


39 posted on 07/31/2011 10:11:02 AM PDT by Right Brother
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To: Phil Harmonic
I don’t think these guys had a clue what their airspeed was/

Doesn't seem like it...and

a wall of ice particles that blocked the aircraft speed sensors.

My Air Force instrument systems guess: Pitot tube heater failure led to eractic airspeed inputs that confused the hell out of the computers and the pilots.

40 posted on 07/31/2011 10:15:18 AM PDT by libertylover (The problem with Obama is not that his skin is too black, it's that his ideas are too RED.)
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To: definitelynotaliberal

MArk to watch that whole movie later. That was great! Thanks for posting


41 posted on 07/31/2011 10:16:04 AM PDT by don-o (Abolish FReepathons. Be a monthly donor.)
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To: definitelynotaliberal
I think that some of the meetings I've been to have recited that script word-for-word, in English. (Well, other than the "underground lake" part and the fact that the sources often are diaclastic. :-)
42 posted on 07/31/2011 10:16:38 AM PDT by Gondring (Going d'Anconia)
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To: Moonman62; All

Legend has it that Boeing is built for pilots, while Airbus is built for those that want to be pilots. In Boeing jets, the pilot can override onboard computers and their built-in soft limits should they choose to do so. Boeing planes are designed to put the ultimate control of the aircraft into the hands of the pilot while Airbus prefers to leave control to software, automation.

What is not being said about where the blame lies is the hubris in which Airbus places its trust in automation, software over that of human/pilot intervention.


43 posted on 07/31/2011 10:18:29 AM PDT by lbryce (BHO:Satan's Evil Twin)
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To: null and void

I am unsure who was in charge during the stall - the computer, or the doomed pilots?

What flight control commands were executed, and which were ignored?


44 posted on 07/31/2011 10:18:39 AM PDT by patton (I am sure that I have done dumber things in my life, but at the moment, I am unable to recall them.)
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To: ExpatCanuck
Please, he took a scheduled break before the crisis hit (SOP).

You're right! He's totally in the clear!

He's dead, of course, but he's in the clear.

45 posted on 07/31/2011 10:19:46 AM PDT by Steely Tom (Obama goes on long after the thrill of Obama is gone)
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To: All
I forgot to include this; If it ain't Boeing, I won't be going.
46 posted on 07/31/2011 10:20:23 AM PDT by lbryce (BHO:Satan's Evil Twin)
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To: Retired Greyhound

Please see post #43.


47 posted on 07/31/2011 10:22:54 AM PDT by lbryce (BHO:Satan's Evil Twin)
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To: Steely Tom

I’ll bet he thought, “What the duck. I was just up there! I leave and the plane starts falling from the sky???”


48 posted on 07/31/2011 10:23:31 AM PDT by BradyLS (DO NOT FEED THE BEARS!)
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To: lbryce

When I was in flight training many years ago in a piper cherokee, we used to practice power on (agrivated stalls) and power off stalls. I remember power off stalls you would get almost no break and a slight wing-over. With power on the break was much more pronounced and the wing over as well. If you didn’t lower the nose NOW and I mean NOW, the airplane would eventually spin. It was great training and we would see how little altitude we could lose by taking quick stall recovery action.

Don’t know how the Airbus would repond so it’s hard to put yourself in their shoes and be critical of their actions (or lack thereof).


49 posted on 07/31/2011 10:27:55 AM PDT by teletech (Say NO to RINOS!)
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To: don-o

I’m glad you liked it. It’s a great 2-part movie. The first part is called Jean de Florette. If you’re going to watch it (presuming you’ve never seen it before), you should start with Jean de Florette and perhaps make a 2-night film festival of it.


50 posted on 07/31/2011 10:30:04 AM PDT by definitelynotaliberal (There is no native criminal class except Congress. Mark Twain)
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