I was simply asking a question. Yes, I know it is colder higher up in the atmosphere although I’m no expert on the subject. But it doesn’t answer the question of why they are blaming icing as a possible cause of the crash. Planes fly across the Atlantic at 35,000 feet every day and do not crash. This one crashed. Why? Icing doesn’t explain it since all planes flying at 35,000 feet at -50 below do not crash into the ocean.
My question is what made *this* plane crash and the reports are not giving me acceptable explanations.
The program done a couple of years ago (Bill Kurtis for — National Geographic (?)) theorized that ultra-rapid icing overwhelmed the heaters on all the pitots, thus throwing the instrument readings into complete confusion. They had some atmospheric physicists do some experiments in a wind tunnel to show how it could happen under the conditions that were apparently encountered.
They also examined the weather data for the time the crash happened, and concluded that the pilots had a storm cell showing up on their radar that they could negotiate. Unfortunately, hidden from radar behind that one was a mother-of-all-cells that presumably doomed them, perhaps indirectly due to the pitot icing.
This work was done at least a year before the black boxes were located and recovered.
Ice needs two things: low temps and water. 38,000 guarantees the low temp. There was an especially nasty storm between South America and North Africa that day, hence water. The first thing I did the morning of the crash was look at the equatorial Atlantic satellite image, and what I saw made me think the flew into an especially nasty storm, perhaps causing structural damage. Icing makes total sense.
Airbus has known that the pitot tubes on some of their planes were faulty and susceptible to icing.