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Air France jet crashed nose-up after 4 minute ordeal
Reuters/Yahoo ^

Posted on 05/27/2011 6:23:31 AM PDT by nuconvert

PARIS (Reuters) – Pilots wrestled with the controls of an Air France airliner for more than four minutes before it plunged into the Atlantic with its nose up, killing all 228 people on board, French investigators said Friday.

The 2009 emergency began with a stall warning two and a half hours into the Rio-Paris flight and nine minutes after the captain had left the cockpit for a routine rest period.

The Airbus A330 jet climbed to 38,000 feet and then began a dramatic three and a half minute descent, rolling from left to right, with the youngest of three pilots handing control to the second most senior pilot one minute before the crash.

(Excerpt) Read more at news.yahoo.com ...


TOPICS: News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: airbus; airfrance; flight447; planecrash
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1 posted on 05/27/2011 6:23:37 AM PDT by nuconvert
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To: nuconvert

Four minutes? That’s a very long time to recover from a stall, unless the computer is fighting your every move...


2 posted on 05/27/2011 6:30:35 AM PDT by null and void (We are now in day 855 of our national holiday from reality. - Obama really isn't one of us)
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To: nuconvert

This sounds similar to a B-727 accident a number of years ago. I can’t recall the airline it was a repositioning flight for a football charter. The pitot heat was missed on the checklist and they were getting incorrect airspeed indications. They ended up stalling then crashing, all were killed.


3 posted on 05/27/2011 6:31:40 AM PDT by phormer phrog phlyer
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To: null and void
There's still a lot of conflicting information, but there are indications the air speed indicators were not performing properly. Difficult to get a proper handle on the aircraft if what you're seeing is not true. Story also says the most experienced pilot was not at the controls when the problems began. The inexperience of the others may have made a bad situation worse.

There's been a lot of supposition about what caused the initial problems. We may never really know, much the same way TWA 800 story is still surrounded in mystery and speculation.

4 posted on 05/27/2011 6:36:50 AM PDT by edpc (I disagree. Circle gets the square.)
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To: nuconvert

Air France Flight 447: Pilot Errors?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uc6iDSOeIng


5 posted on 05/27/2011 6:43:08 AM PDT by TSgt ("Some folks just need killin'" - Karl Childers (Sling Blade 1996))
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To: null and void

Take a look at the Air France 296 crash.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fX4_Ho992TQ

The computer locked the pilots out of the controls and had a 10+ degree positive nose pitch while flying down the runway and crashed into the trees at the end.

I think AF447 flight computer shut down and locked the pilots out controlling the aircraft. Airbus should be sued for this.


6 posted on 05/27/2011 6:44:08 AM PDT by Jack Hydrazine (It's the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine!)
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To: nuconvert

The airspeed & other mechanical indicators are not the primary indicators.
These steam gauges are secondary to the big MFD display and that is largely driven by GPS input


7 posted on 05/27/2011 6:45:14 AM PDT by bill1952 (Choice is an illusion created between those with power - and those without)
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To: bill1952

The steam gages might be secondary to the HUD or the glass displays in the cockpit, but the pitot static system is vital to controlled flight. The flight control computers get their airspeed information from the pitot system. GPS can only tell the pilot groundspeed, not airspeed.

There are three instruments that are vital to maintaing controlled flight in the clag: airspeed, altimeter and VSI (vertical speed indicator). All three are driven by the pitot static system. It fails in the goo and the aircraft crashes.


8 posted on 05/27/2011 6:50:07 AM PDT by Francis McClobber
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To: null and void

I'm sorry, I can't do that, Dave....................

9 posted on 05/27/2011 6:56:26 AM PDT by Red Badger (Jesus said there is no marriage in Heaven. That's why they call it Heaven............)
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To: TSgt

Nice hatchet job on the dead pilots by ABC news. Before they jump to conclusions, they should let the investigators conduct their investigation.

Almost all crashes involve some kind of pilot error, but some circumstances are very tough to overcome - even if the pilot is Chuck Yaeger.


10 posted on 05/27/2011 7:03:52 AM PDT by Francis McClobber
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To: Francis McClobber

I’m curious what Chuck Yaeger is up to these days?

I want his autograph!


11 posted on 05/27/2011 7:09:26 AM PDT by TSgt ("Some folks just need killin'" - Karl Childers (Sling Blade 1996))
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To: TSgt

Not sure, but when I was in flight school, everyone wanted to be like him for sure!


12 posted on 05/27/2011 7:14:04 AM PDT by Francis McClobber
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To: TSgt

I think Ole Chuck checked out...


13 posted on 05/27/2011 7:19:20 AM PDT by Article10 (Roger That)
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To: Francis McClobber

Honestly, ground speed & wind direction are all that I need to keep from falling out of the sky, absent a spin, of course, although it would be far less confusing to have instruments that were indicating the same things.

Four minutes is a very long time to recover from upset, let alone a stall.
I am very curious about this one.


14 posted on 05/27/2011 7:23:46 AM PDT by bill1952 (Choice is an illusion created between those with power - and those without)
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To: Jack Hydrazine
Air France uses "pilot error" to explain a lot. In explaining how another Airbus had a rudder problem leading to a crash in 2001:

The most deadly event was the 2001 crash of American Airlines Flight 587, in which 265 people died when the plane's vertical stabilizer tore off soon after takeoff. Investigators blamed that crash on "over use" of the rudder pedal by the co-pilot.


15 posted on 05/27/2011 7:29:54 AM PDT by Ragnar54
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To: Article10

No, he is still with us. Turned 88 in February.


16 posted on 05/27/2011 7:32:49 AM PDT by vis a vis
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To: Francis McClobber
Nice hatchet job on the dead pilots by ABC news. Before they jump to conclusions, they should let the investigators conduct their investigation.

Perhaps. And it's likely that even the command pilot would have been unable to save the situation.

But I think there's probably a great deal of truth to the theory that an inexperienced pilot faced with an extreme situation like this one, would be far more likely to make a wrong move that makes the situation worse.

And I have to wonder about the command pilot's decision to leave the cockpit, too. The plane ran into difficulties only minutes after he left; that being the case, one has to think that he missed or ignored indications of rough weather ahead, even though they should have been visible from the cockpit windows.

17 posted on 05/27/2011 7:33:32 AM PDT by r9etb
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To: vis a vis

Same age as Henry Kissinger, who is 88 years old today.


18 posted on 05/27/2011 7:39:53 AM PDT by Verginius Rufus
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To: r9etb

If I remember watching the National Geographic piece on this they maintain that there were two storm cells. The first the aircraft was approaching prevented the radar from “seeing” the second larger cell that lay ahead.


19 posted on 05/27/2011 7:44:50 AM PDT by UB355 (Slower traffic keep right)
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To: r9etb

If I remember watching the National Geographic piece on this they maintain that there were two storm cells. The first the aircraft was approaching prevented the radar from “seeing” the second larger cell that lay ahead.


20 posted on 05/27/2011 7:44:55 AM PDT by UB355 (Slower traffic keep right)
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To: Verginius Rufus

I’ve always been wary of fly-by-wire controls. No “feel” as to what the plane is trying to tell you.


21 posted on 05/27/2011 7:46:45 AM PDT by freebird5850 (Of course Obama loves his country...it's just that Sarah Palin loves mine!)
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To: r9etb

Here’s another take on the same story.

Reveals that at one point both pilots had their hands on their (left and right seat) ‘joystick’. In the old days, two people might have been needed to wrestle a cable- or hydraulically-controlled aircraft back to controlled flight. TWO people trying to fly a fly-by-wire system doesn’t sound good.

Read on - another perspective:

http://www.cnn.com/2011/WORLD/americas/05/27/air.france.447.crash/index.html?eref=igoogledmn_topstories


22 posted on 05/27/2011 7:46:45 AM PDT by Blueflag (Res ipsa loquitur)
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To: Jack Hydrazine
The computer locked the pilots out of the controls and had a 10+ degree positive nose pitch while flying down the runway and crashed into the trees at the end.

The "computer" did exactly what it was designed to do in that case. Disinformation about the "computers" in Airbus aircraft is almost comical. I have flown the Airbus family aircraft for over 10 years. They are well designed and well built.
23 posted on 05/27/2011 7:50:29 AM PDT by Tzfat
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To: Blueflag
Reveals that at one point both pilots had their hands on their (left and right seat) ‘joystick’. In the old days, two people might have been needed to wrestle a cable- or hydraulically-controlled aircraft back to controlled flight. TWO people trying to fly a fly-by-wire system doesn’t sound good.

The issue is not fly-by-wire, but the fact that the sidestick controllers are not linked. Some fly-by-wire aircraft have interconnects.

You are correct about it being bad, however. The two inputs are algebraically summed. That means they can either fight against each other, or worse, dramatically over control in the same direction(s).

Bright lights and aural warnings tell pilots when both are providing input, as well as when one pilot overrides the other. Basic Airbus pilot stuff. Sounds like inexperience at least on the part of one pilot.
24 posted on 05/27/2011 7:55:37 AM PDT by Tzfat
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To: r9etb

Not sure I’d call it a hatchet job, but ... here’s the WSJ/Fox version of the same story. DOES make the junior crew look like they reacted incorrectly.

*IF* the artificial horizon was FUBAR I can understand how they might get (AND KEEP) the aircraft in a 35 degree AOA **after*** a stall warning, but damn ...

http://www.foxnews.com/world/2011/05/27/air-france-captain-absent-descent-began/

“Throughout the descent, according to the report, “inputs made by the [pilot flying] were mainly nose-up” and the “angle of attack,” or the position of the longitudinal axis of the plane in relation to the airflow “remained above 35 degrees.”

Serious stall.

” ... apparently confused by repeated stall warnings, pilots of an Air France jetliner in 2009 continued to pull the nose up sharply—contrary to standard procedure—even as the Airbus A330 plummeted toward the Atlantic Ocean”

and ...

“... paints a somewhat unflattering picture of a seemingly confused cockpit, with the crew making extreme inputs to their flight controls and the engines spooling up to full power and later the thrust levers being pulled back to idle. At one point, according to the report, both pilots sitting in front of the controls tried to put in simultaneous commands.”

Not good to try to fight the controls in a fly by wire tandem.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/world/2011/05/27/air-france-captain-absent-descent-began/#ixzz1NZ2OpLs7


25 posted on 05/27/2011 7:57:08 AM PDT by Blueflag (Res ipsa loquitur)
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To: Francis McClobber

I believe Airbus has quietly gotten all airlines to replace their original pitot tubs with an improved version since the crash. The original was susceptible to freezing up.


26 posted on 05/27/2011 7:57:25 AM PDT by DManA
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To: bill1952
Honestly, ground speed & wind direction are all that I need

Baloney.

27 posted on 05/27/2011 8:01:42 AM PDT by SeeSac
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To: Tzfat

Indeed. I didn’t know that the inputs were ‘summed’. Yikers. (I fly slow movers, VFR, below 5000 AGL generally)

The various articles read like the aircraft Q-cornered, and basically performed a “falling leaf” maneuver, descending at roughly 10,000 FPM.

Several articles had suggested this as a pilot input induced “deep stall”, but how does a non-T-Tail jet get and STAY in a deep stall?


28 posted on 05/27/2011 8:03:44 AM PDT by Blueflag (Res ipsa loquitur)
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To: Blueflag

I saw a tv show on this. They were able to recreate the situation in the cockpit. Older pilots did the right thing (Add power, lower then nose?) Younger pilots all did what the pilots on that plane did. They concluded that pilots were not being trained for this situation (which should never have occurred in the first place). All pilots of this plane were given remedial training after the crash.


29 posted on 05/27/2011 8:04:06 AM PDT by DManA
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To: bill1952

“that is largely driven by GPS input”

Indicated Airspeed in never derived from GPS position data. Indicated Airspeed must be driven by measured air over the wings.


30 posted on 05/27/2011 8:07:09 AM PDT by CodeToad (Islam needs to be banned in the US and treated as a criminal enterprise.)
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To: Jack Hydrazine

Controls on Airbus are single hand, like a computer game. Why Airbus’s are routinely referred to as “PacMan”. The so-called brain locking out pilot control is recurring event in many crashes. Airbus should be sued out of existence.


31 posted on 05/27/2011 8:07:19 AM PDT by John S Mosby (Sic Semper Tyrannis)
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To: freebird5850
I’ve always been wary of fly-by-wire controls. No “feel” as to what the plane is trying to tell you.

Any aircraft with significant control loading does not provide "feel" anyway. Hydraulic controls provide artificial feedback. Of all the jet airliners flying today only, the DC-9 provides actual flight control feedback.

As for fly-by-wire, a number of modern fly-by-wire airliners provide artificial feedback, so the issue is not fly-by-wire. I have flown fly-by-wire with feedback and others without. Most pilots will tell you that the difference is negligible in "feel" because after a while in an aircraft, your brain provides the feedback. It is weird the way it works.
32 posted on 05/27/2011 8:07:28 AM PDT by Tzfat
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To: Tzfat
You are correct about it being bad, however. The two inputs are algebraically summed. That means they can either fight against each other, or worse, dramatically over control in the same direction(s).

Summing the inputs would have been a conscious design choice ... but it seems like a really odd thing to do, for precisely the reasons you state.

Is there some advantage to summing the inputs?

33 posted on 05/27/2011 8:08:40 AM PDT by r9etb
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To: Ragnar54

“Air France uses “pilot error” to explain a lot. “

Yes, they do. Typical euroweenie mentality. I had a BMW motorcycle a few years back that would leave third gear for neutral while under power. I was told by the BMW tech that I didn’t know how to ride motorcycles. It seems this transmission issue is common with BMW but it is pilot error anyway.


34 posted on 05/27/2011 8:09:40 AM PDT by CodeToad (Islam needs to be banned in the US and treated as a criminal enterprise.)
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To: SeeSac

Imagine that as you are driving in traffic, and your GPS map goes to blue screen and you have to re boot it, while texting a message to the software company for a solution to the problem. then people start honking at you as you are waving all over the road, and a cop with flashing lights is behind you. Oh yes you are on cruise control and it won’t disengage.


35 posted on 05/27/2011 8:10:24 AM PDT by stubernx98 (cranky, but reasonable)
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To: DManA

It dismays me that any pilot would react to a stall warning by pulling the nose up, TV show or not.

That is akin to stepping on the GAS when a child starts to run into the street.

NOSE DOWN is so BASIC to pilot training that I am incredulous that BOTH jet jockeys would input and maintain a nose up attitude.

Unless they somehow thought they were in an overspeed (I never have to worry about that in the Champ, really) condition and were trying to lose KIAS, I dunno.

But again, when you get a stall warning (horn or stick shaker of just the seat of your pants) you just NEVER pull back on the ‘stick’. A stalling plane is crying out for airspeed over the wings and the return of lift to the wings and control surfaces. WHY react with nose up is beyond me.

REM: I don’t fly jets. These guys LAND faster than our plane will fly. So i speak from a low and slow perspective.


36 posted on 05/27/2011 8:12:34 AM PDT by Blueflag (Res ipsa loquitur)
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To: r9etb

Intl. overseas flight. He went back to sleep in the qtrs, so he’d be pilot on landing in France. Routine. What’s not routine is why did the computer take over, and why can’t they override it. Either way, if the airspeed wasn’t right, they couldn’t very well fix it, and the computer uh, would insist it was right.


37 posted on 05/27/2011 8:14:47 AM PDT by John S Mosby (Sic Semper Tyrannis)
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To: John S Mosby
Controls on Airbus are single hand, like a computer game. Why Airbus’s are routinely referred to as “PacMan”. The so-called brain locking out pilot control is recurring event in many crashes. Airbus should be sued out of existence.

You are seriously misinformed. Holiday Express, not withstanding. As an airline pilot for 30 years, and over 15,000 hours, I can tell you that the Airbus is well designed and well built. "Boeing snobs" are people who have never flown anything else. I have 8,000 hours in Boeings as well.
38 posted on 05/27/2011 8:16:49 AM PDT by Tzfat
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To: Blueflag

Not a pilot so some of what they said went over my head. The way they explained it, the thing the pilots who screwed up in the simulator did was not completely irrational but did seem to make sense if you hadn’t been trained.

The key to the whole situation was the pitot failure. Generated a cascade of errors. Or so said this tv show.


39 posted on 05/27/2011 8:17:43 AM PDT by DManA
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To: Tzfat

Folks who might criticize the Airbus design might also want to equally harp on the F-16 — one of the world’s finest machines to ever surround a pilot. It too flies via a “PACMAN” controller ;-)


40 posted on 05/27/2011 8:22:24 AM PDT by Blueflag (Res ipsa loquitur)
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To: John S Mosby
Intl. overseas flight. He went back to sleep in the qtrs, so he’d be pilot on landing in France. Routine.

I know it's "routine." But given how quickly things went to hell after he stepped out, it's difficult to believe that there weren't clues about upcoming rough weather that he either missed or ignored.

And I recall at the time that there were stories about the weather along their flight path (which, IIRC, was a deviation from the normal route).

Accidents like this rarely happen for just one reason -- in my world (satellites, not airplanes) there's typically a chain of events that eventually culminates in the so-called "root cause." And thus it seems to be in this case: my recollections of the early stories are that the pilot knowingly took a risk with his flight plan due to schedule/fuel loading issues. So they flew through the weather instead of around it.

41 posted on 05/27/2011 8:24:33 AM PDT by r9etb
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To: r9etb
Is there some advantage to summing the inputs?

Absolutely. It is actually a very well thought-out design. The problem is the pilots need to use it the way that it was designed. Like I said, this is elementary Airbus pilot stuff, which makes this sound like inexperience or panic on at least one of the pilots' part.
42 posted on 05/27/2011 8:25:45 AM PDT by Tzfat
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To: SeeSac

LOL! I’ve only had that on 2 declared emergency occasions & I’m still here to annoy you :)


43 posted on 05/27/2011 8:25:45 AM PDT by bill1952 (Choice is an illusion created between those with power - and those without)
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To: Tzfat

You are correct. The computer did exactly what it was designed to do. In the event the computer doesn’t like what the pilot is doing the computer decides for him and locks out the pilot and flies how it wants to fly. It’s called fly-by-wire. The flight computer makes the final decision on any pilot input and can override any commands.

It’s pretty obvious the AF447 flight computer was having a bad silicon day and wouldn’t let the pilots even put the freaking nose down to get out of the stall. As far as I know Boeing airplanes don’t have this problem.


44 posted on 05/27/2011 8:28:23 AM PDT by Jack Hydrazine (It's the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine!)
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To: Tzfat
I believe you ... but what is the purpose for summing the inputs from the two sets of controls? There has to be some reason why they would choose to do that, despite the dire consequences of misusing the feature.
45 posted on 05/27/2011 8:28:51 AM PDT by r9etb
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To: Blueflag

You could have 200 pilots with their hands on the joystick and the computer still isn’t going to let you do anything the computer doesn’t like.


46 posted on 05/27/2011 8:29:58 AM PDT by Jack Hydrazine (It's the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine!)
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To: r9etb

it’s difficult to believe that there weren’t clues about upcoming rough weather

This tv show I refereed to speculated on this too. They recreated the weather along the flight path that night. They noticed there was a small storm in front of them that would have hidden a much bigger storm right behind it. They avoided the little storm and found themselves faced with a big one. A meteorologist speculated that this type of storm would have had supercooled water vapor. Water vapor that could be induced to flash into ice around a pitot tube.

At least that was put forward as a possibility.


47 posted on 05/27/2011 8:30:39 AM PDT by DManA
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To: bill1952

OK. Given 500 knots groundspeed and wind direction of 090 is the Airbus above or below stall speed ...


48 posted on 05/27/2011 8:34:11 AM PDT by SeeSac
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To: Tzfat

Admittedly from reading accident followups from the past and conversation with buddies who also are long time Boeing jockeys- as such biased (bigots against airbus). So, should the focus be on the pitots (per another commentary on “freezing up”)? What would make the aircraft go into a stall on it’s own from previous level flight? With the “summing” effect in one consideration adding even more nose up commands, why would they have done that in the first place if the plane was in a stall? Do you think the computer locked them out because of false airspeed. Thanks for the admonishment and for your experience.


49 posted on 05/27/2011 8:36:01 AM PDT by John S Mosby (Sic Semper Tyrannis)
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To: Tzfat

Admittedly from reading accident followups from the past and conversation with buddies who also are long time Boeing jockeys- as such biased (bigots against airbus).

So, should the focus be on the pitots (per another commentary on “freezing up”)? What would make the aircraft go into a stall on it’s own from previous level flight? With the “summing” effect in one consideration adding even more nose up commands, why would they have done that in the first place if the plane was in a stall?

Do you think the computer locked them out because of false airspeed. Thanks for the admonishment and for your experience.


50 posted on 05/27/2011 8:36:54 AM PDT by John S Mosby (Sic Semper Tyrannis)
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