Skip to comments.'Baby' Pilot at Controls of Doomed Air France Airbus
Posted on 05/29/2011 12:42:16 PM PDT by lbryce
HE was one of Air France's "company babies": a dashing 32-year-old junior pilot - and a keen amateur yachtsman - who had been qualified to fly the airline's ultra-sophisticated Airbus A330 jet for barely a year.
Yet despite his inexperience, Pierre-Cedric Bonin found himself responsible for the lives of 228 passengers and crew members on June 1, 2009, when the cockpit of his $190 million aircraft lit up with terrifying and contradictory alarm signals en route from Rio de Janeiro to Paris.
While Bonin held on to the plane's side-stick controller and looked at his instruments in disbelief, his co-pilot, David Robert, 37, began troubleshooting. The captain, Marc Dubois, 58, was napping outside the cockpit.
According to a newly-released report by French investigators - which finally answers some of the questions surrounding the mystery of Flight 447 - a fatal sequence of events had already been triggered when the plane's external speed sensors suddenly gave inconsistent readings, possibly because of ice.
This is thought to have caused the autopilot to disengage, which in turn brought warning of an aerodynamic stall.
That is when Bonin - who remained at the controls while Robert shouted with increasing desperation for the captain - did something that aviation experts have described as inexplicable: he pointed the nose of the Airbus upwards, causing it to slow down dramatically. He kept doing this for at least one minute until the plane had climbed 3,000ft to 38,000ft.
This one rudimentary mistake, according to the initial findings of France's aviation safety authority, might have been responsible for the aircraft no longer having enough air flow over its wings to remain aloft, although no blame has yet been officially assigned.
(Excerpt) Read more at theaustralian.com.au ...
The fact of the matter is that for many years airlines have been very anxious to have all flight data transmitted in real time to prevent just this very tragedy but the pilots' union has vehemently opposed just such measure because they did not want higher-ups questioning their judgment, decision-making process, and instead have opted for the "black box" approach that is mindbogglingly useless in saving lives.
The passengers are dead. It's very comforting to know the precises circumstances in how the passengers died. Instead of having provided live data that would have certainly saved flight 447, all that there is to show for it is Vive la France.
dashing 32-year-old junior pilot runs a $190 million plane and it’s passengers into a free fall. Hopefully his dashing co-workers take note and pay attention to their training.
It is hard to fathom how 3 pilots could have essentially ridden a stall from FL380 to the ground (sea) ... the combination of no external ques, and contradictory instrument information had to be confusing, but after a minute or 2 of holding a nose high AOA with no improvement, it seems at least they would have tried something different, like pointing the nose down. Very bizarre incident.
How the heck does the report know how the co-pilot looked? Stupid writing!
Whoops. I thought he was the co-pilot. He was the pilot.
Where was Sully Sullenberger III when you needed him?
>I don’t believe that for a second.
And you are entirely correct not to.
This article is mostly nonsense.
I still don’t see how 3 pilots could have held a nose high attitude right into the water from FL380, conflicting indications notwithstanding.
Something is missing although the report on PDF document is more inclusive.
Does Rio ice over in June? Since they are south of the equator, this is the equivalent of December 1st for them but I’ve always thought of Rio as being South America’s Miami.
Ice can be encountered at 38,000 feet during any season and at any latitude.
I am no pilot, but even I know that is bad.
You do realize that the average air temperature at 35,000 feet is -50 degrees, don’t you?
FL 350. Not exactly balmy up there. (rolls eyes)
The article says he held the nose up for one minute.
So you’re saying ground controllers could have intervened and saved the aircraft if the proper ground links were operational? How, precisely?
So Air France places greater importance on a “dashing appearance” than actual experience and expertise?
How typically French.
I think it was the center fuel tank
Question for any heavy metal pilots out there:
1. Does this aircraft have backup mechanical Artificial Horizon.
2. In case of the “glass cockpit” giving conflicting readouts, are the Air France Pilots trained to go back to a mechanical artificial horizon for attitude control? (Note: if airspeed depicted on the glass cockpit is wrong the only way to control speed is by attitude)
3. It sounds like the aircraft was in a flat spin?????
Can the A340 recover from a flat spin with input only from flight controls? What is the training for Air France Pilots in relationship to a flat spin in an A340.
4. How close would the center of gravity be to the max aft portion of the flight envelope for the aircraft with the fuel load and passenger distribution and also with 2 hours of fuel burned?
5. The old British Trident could get in “deep stall” and be
unrecoverable. This was a result of turbulence off the stalled wing hitting the horizontal stabilizer. However, the trident was a T Tail and the A340 is not.
ATP pilots please respond with your analysis.
If the pilot was getting high airspeed readings from the computers, then he did the correct thing to raise the nose if he didn't trust the other instruments (the plane must not be allowed to go into a dive and exceed NTE speed, because it will start to break up).
A quad-redundancy FCS might well have allowed it to sort out the mixed signals, but that's another story. I know Boeing was interested in using quad-R, but I don't know whether they have it in their production aircraft.