Skip to comments.Pilot errors outlined in 2009 Air France crash
Posted on 07/29/2011 10:38:19 AM PDT by magellan
The crew piloting a doomed Air France jet over the Atlantic did not realize the plane was in a stall, were insufficiently trained in flying manually, and never informed the passengers that anything was wrong before they plunged into the sea, according to new findings released Friday.
Based on newly discovered cockpit recordings from the 2009 crash, the French air accident investigation agency is recommending mandatory training for all pilots to help them fly planes manually and handle a high-altitude stall.
(Excerpt) Read more at news.yahoo.com ...
>>...recommending mandatory training for all pilots to help them fly planes manually...<<
If ever I had a “WTF” moment, this would be it.
As an ex instructor/fighter type, I find it unbelievable that ANY pilot would get themselves into this situation.
When airspeed indicator malfunctions are suspected, one always reverts to pitch and power control.
The French produce as quality a pilot as anyone - so what went wrong here?
Pilots are trained to ignore their senses and to pay attention to their instruments and what happened here was that the instruments FAILED. Air France, Airbus, and the French government are trying to pass this off as pilot error instead of dealing with the fact that their airplanes are not safe and that their instruments on those planes cannot be trusted.
HF calls it extreme pilot error back in May based on preliminary data!
“were insufficiently trained in flying manually”
So whose fault is that?
Not the pilots.
Ping to something that will make you look twice, maybe even three times.
Pilot error my ass. Flying by wire and the closest thing to reality is bum instrument readings. Design flaw all the way. By the time it was decided to disregard instruments and fly by the seat of their pants by nosing the plane down to gain airspeed and foil over the wings again they were to low and into the drink they went.
Captain took a long enough time to wake from his nap and make his way back to the cabin, what’s up with that?
Were the names of the pilots ever published? This reads like catastrophic pilot error and only eclipsed by deliberate sabotage.
The Airbus reflects the Euro-mentality of elite central planning. In this case, the central planner is embodied in the flight control computers, where the pilot doesn’t manipulate flight controls directly. Instead, his control inputs are mere suggestions to the computer which exercises veto power over any control input that it considers will cause it to violate the design envelope.
Tellingly, when the computer is in charge, that condition is called “normal law”. When the pilots take the extraordinary steps to override the computer’s nanny, that is called “alternate law.” I kid you not.
Do not these names reflect a certain world view and mindset?
In other words, Airbus has a bad history of over-reliance on autopilot. I’d like to know what the pilot was looking at while the stall alarm was blaring.
“...never informed the passengers that anything was wrong before they plunged into the sea ...”
Oh yeah that would be such help , this is your captain speaking we are all panicing here but enjoy the peanuts
Reading through the article, and the Airbus history, my bet is that the pilots were fighting the Airbus computer. And the Airbus did not even whisper, “what are you doing Dave?”
A lot of us called it when it happen. Some people wanted to blame Airbus and some wanted to blame terrorist.
Please allow me to add that as an airplane driver since 1969, what kind of professional and regulatory environment do we have when the pilot cannot have enough basic information to keep an aircraft flying no matter what else failed?
A simple Garmin 396 VFR GPS would have given the pilot enough independent information that he could have validated his failing million dollar flight deck.
But as I previously posted, elites are smarter than the rest of us.
IIRC, the pitot-static system failed due to icing. The computer saw a speed mismatch and shut down.
With a plugged pitot port, the static was still open, and caused the altimeter to show a climb.
The (relatively low time ) flight crew raised the nose and reduced power settings. Plane started to descend, but altimeter and ROC indicators indicated it was still climbing. Further reduction in power.....etc....till splash. Went into a falling leaf deep stall.
The AF pilots are trained that the computer can take care of everything. They aren’t taught analog flying (like when you should break the glass on one of your instruments).
It has been about 6 months since seeing this stuff in detail, but basically the flight crew were flying by erroneous flight instruments when they should have set power and pitch at the settings called for in the manual when computer and AS indicators are lost, a known problem in this aircraft.
Rule #1 is to keep the plane flying. If the Airbus crew was so used to letting all of the computers do the actual ‘work’, and didn’t have enough experience manually flying the plane, then this was just an accident waiting to happen. AF crew flying into the trees at an airshow also comes to mind.
Translation into plane English:
Our software killed everybody, blame the pilots as they are not here to defend themselves.
Struck me the same way.
“Okay passengers, you might want to take that last sip of Fresca....”
Actually, its gallows humor- mea culpa.
I believe there was a post under the article or in the article where some one was glad that their loved ones did not have to be tirtured knowing they were on the 3.5 minute glide to the scene of impact.
Airbus, contrary to popular belief, is not a bad airframe. That -330 and -340 series are so automatic with back up and independent instruments that it is hard to fathom what happened here. At the same time French pilots are as good as any around. I don’t know what to think..
According to my co-workers that have been there, that’s the European mentality for nearly everything. In most career fields, they get worked like a dog for the first 10-15 years. Then when they’ve “made it”, they spend the rest of their careers being paid six figures to walk around and point. Fringe benefits include 2 hour lunches, 8 weeks vacation a year, and staff meetings that are actually glorified coffee breaks.
Are not the instrument cluster in the top right Backup analog instruments ????
what are you doing Dave?
“Dave’s not here.”
...never informed the passengers that anything was wrong before they plunged into the sea ...
Reminds me of the old Luftanza joke. 747 flying over atlantic loses power...Pilot comes on speaker: Auctung, this is your Pilot Speaking...plane has lost power and we have to ditch...pilot out. A few minutes later, Pilot comes on speaker again...Actung, this is your pilot speaking, we are preparing for water landing, prepare for rough landing. Plane lands in Atlantic, perfect landing, plane is afloat but beginning to sink. Pilot comes on speaker again...Actung, I, your pilot, has made a wonderful correct landing in the Atlantic. I invite you to swim with me out to the life rafts....to those who cannot swim, THANK YOU FOR FLYING LUFTANZA.
I would also do this to them while flying simulated IFR. At a high angle of attack the artificial horizon would topple and they would have to fly it with nothing except rate of turn and air speed. You must always “fly the plane.”
Question: Does the Airbus have mechanical instruments as their backup inturmentation or is the whole damn think connected to the computers?
.........with all due respect sir, obviously the French DO NOT produce quality pilots..............one night a couple years back these guys/gals flew this plane into the Atlantic and killed 228 folks............that is one undeniable fact!
Now comes this report saying they did not know what the hell they were doing, “THE PILOT” was on a break and there was no warning to passengers. Given this set of facts, and assuming they are accurate, these guys/gals were poorly trained............or poorly motivated..........or poorly something.............!
Let’s at least hold our pilots accountable, since we don’t anybody else in this PC world so my kids and yours are safe when they get on one of these things..................
I guess it should also be noted, in the interest of accuracy and fairness to the pilots, that this report also names Air Bus parts as culprits..........don’t know why this is not surprising!!!!! But, a pilot friend of mine agrees with you and simply says “there is no excuse for not being able to fly your airplane manually or for apparently being oblivious to the fact your nose is aimed for sharksville”................these guys/gals, according to this article, lacked this skill set due to no training...........
Sounds like equipment malfunction. However, not being a pilot I still have to ask were there no visual cues? Did the storm block the flight crew from seeing the plane was falling?
I don’t trust socialists to create anything more complicated than a cigar.
“With a plugged pitot port, the static was still open, and caused the altimeter to show a climb.”
Altimeters don’t use the pitot. Airspeed indicators do.
Being over water is very disorienting for a pilot even during the day. And I think this happened at night?
“So whose fault is that?
Not the pilots.”
Pilots have a significant degree of input into what they are trained. I blame the pilots as they forgot basic flight training. It doesn’t take advanced training to know how to deal with a faulty airspeed indicator.
“altimeter unwinding like its broke, rate gage pegged at down, and we don’t have a problem? “
Bingo. Not to mention they were pitched way up all the way down to the water.
Whoever passed them to flight status is to blame.
“At the same time French pilots are as good as any around.”
aue contrare mi amigo,
the end results indicate something completely different.
If those pilots were “as good as any around” then the plane would not have smacked into the Atlantic.
“The French produce as quality a pilot as anyone - so what went wrong here?”
Well that’s a scary thought. Those pilots flew a perfectly flyable airplane into the water and killed everyone. I sure hope other pilots are better than that.
Altimeter is plugged into the static system
I picture the plane slightly nose up and pitching wing tip to wing, in that position and falling the whole time.
My instructor put my plane into a power off stall first lesson I ever had. Almost caused me to quit taking flying lessons altogether, I was so scared.
Every lesson afterwards we practiced stalls, and later on he added power on stalls and those I hated even more. I have done more stalls than I care to remember, but I learned to keep flying the plane. This may sound ignorant but doesn’t Airbus have a stall warning blare?
Daves not here.
The French produce as quality a pilot as anyone - so what went wrong here?
It appears it's not so easy when your airspeed indicator goes away and you have to guess at the proper throttle setting and angle of attack.
Here's a little story about a Northwest Airlines crew who dealt with a similar situation and lived to tell about it. Posted by
Orval Fairbairn not long after the crash:
I just got this email from a retired airline pilot: From a retired NWA buddy of mine This from Brent Stratton, a friend and NWA pilot I flew the B-757 with out of our Tokyo base.........Now obviously on the A-330 Well, I'm sure you have all heard of the Air France accident. I fly the same plane, the A330. Yesterday while coming up from Hong Kong to Tokyo, a 1700nm 4hr. flight, we experienced the same problems Air France had while flying thru bad weather. I have a link to the failures that occurred on AF 447. My list is almost the same. http://www.eurocockpit.com/images/acars447.php The problem I suspect is the pitot tubes ice over and you loose your airspeed indication along with the auto pilot, auto throttles and rudder limit protection. The rudder limit protection keeps you from over stressing the rudder at high speed. Synopsis; Tuesday 23, 2009 10am enroute HKG to NRT. Entering Nara Japan airspace. FL390 mostly clear with occasional isolated areas of rain, clouds tops about FL410. Outside air temperature was -50C TAT -21C (your not supposed to get liquid water at these temps). We did. As we were following other aircraft along our route. We approached a large area of rain below us. Tilting the weather radar down we could see the heavy rain below, displayed in red. At our altitude the radar indicated green or light precipitation, most likely ice crystals we thought. Entering the cloud tops we experienced just light to moderate turbulence. (The winds were around 30kts at altitude.) After about 15 sec. we encountered moderate rain. We thought it odd to have rain streaming up the windshield at this altitude and the sound of the plane getting pelted like an aluminum garage door. It got very warm and humid in the cockpit all of a sudden. Five seconds later the Captains, First Officers, and standby airspeed indicators rolled back to 60kts. The auto pilot and auto throttles disengaged. The Master Warning and Master Caution flashed, and the sounds of chirps and clicks letting us know these things were happening. Jerry Staab, the Capt. hand flew the plane on the shortest vector out of the rain. The airspeed indicators briefly came back but failed again. The failure lasted for THREE minutes. We flew the recommended 83%N1 power setting. When the airspeed indicators came back. we were within 5 knots of our desired speed. Everything returned to normal except for the computer logic controlling the plane. (We were in alternate law for the rest of the flight.) We had good conditions for the failure; daylight, we were rested, relatively small area, and light turbulence. I think it could have been much worse. Jerry did a great job fly and staying cool. We did our procedures called dispatch and maintenance on the SAT COM and landed in Narita. That's it.
They had a backup airspeed indicator and altimeter that were working. The bottom line is that nobody in the cockpit knew how to fly the airplane without a computer. When the transcripts came out, it was obvious.
The French produce as quality a pilot as anyone - so what went wrong here?
From what I've read, European airlines have no reservations about hiring a pilot with no experience, and the pilot who flew the aircraft into the ocean was one of those people.
“were there no visual cues? Did the storm block the flight crew from seeing the plane was falling?”
Most likely there was nothing to see outside, however, there were plenty of instruments inside to tell them they were descending, had a nose up attitude, and needed to pitch down and power up. There are backup instruments plus several sets of redundant primary instruments.
And they were flying 200 passengers trans-Atlantic?
Was there no sensation of ‘falling’ during those 4+ minutes? Even a fast controlled descent feels a bit like falling and also the ears ‘pop.’
Do these aircraft have mechnical guages,even as a backup? I’m thinking They may have had elect issues and the digital went down