Skip to comments.Cockpit Chaos on Doomed 2009 Air France Flight
Posted on 08/02/2011 6:18:07 AM PDT by Still Thinking
LE BOURGET, France (AP) A confused cockpit crew without proper training to head off high-altitude disaster flew toward it, instead, with wrong-headed maneuvers, no task-sharing and perhaps unaware their flight was about to end in the Atlantic Ocean.
Screeching stall alarms and incoherent speed readings from faulty sensors, bad weather in a darkened sky and growing stress make up the chaotic cockpit scenario in the final moments of the Air France flight from Rio de Janeiro to Paris on June 1, 2009. All 228 people aboard the plane were killed.
Friday's third report by France's accident investigation agency, or BEA, lays out almost second-by-second technical data on the flight's deadly trajectory but cannot answer the ultimate question whether pilot error, equipment failure or other still unknown factors caused the crash.
The BEA's findings raised worrisome questions about the reactions of the cockpit crew two co-pilots as the A330 went into an aerodynamic stall and their ability to fly the A330 manually as the autopilot disengaged. The report expressed broader concern about the state of training of today's pilots flying high-tech planes when confronted with a high-altitude crisis.
Many of the crews' actions "seem contrary to logic and we're seeking rational explanations," chief BEA investigator Alain Bouillard told a news conference, adding that the cockpit crew even seemed unaware the plane had gone into an aerodynamic stall.
With the captain of Flight AF447 on a rest break, the report also expressed concern over "non-optimal task sharing" between the two co-pilots. Among the BEA's 10 recommendations, it wants authorities to further define criteria for appointing a relief captain to ensure better synergy among relief crews.
(Excerpt) Read more at pddnet.com ...
Might not be a bad idea to have ground speed computed using GPS, and then if you have 500 knots of ground speed and the pitots are telling you you're stalled, you can decide if you believe you have a 500 knot tailwind or if the pitots are lying.
It’s a bit more complicated than simply knowing ground speed. Winds aloft can be more than 100 knots, and the “window” between too high a speed and stall speed is rather small at altitude - only 40 knots or so, if I remember correctly.
The pilots should have relied on the old biwing pilot’s rules...pitch and power. If they were at the correct power setting, and if they were at level pitch...the planes was very close to the correct airspeed.
Now, about those Microsoft-designed pitot tubes.....
“....and perhaps unaware their flight was about to end in the Atlantic Ocean. “
A bit of a ridiculous line for drama sake. Reminds me of the comedial Ron White joke:
“Freaked out co-passenger: if one of these engines goes out how far will tht take us?”
“Ron White: all the way to the scene of the crash. Which is pretty hady becasue its where were headed. I bet we beat the paramedics by a half hour.”
None-the-less, an enormously tragic event for so many. Would like to know morre of the details, epidemiologically speaking.
Ah Airbus... if only Mavis Beacon had been there to seize the controls.
Way wrong question!!
Far too much automation nowadays, IMHO, with far too little “real” pilot training.
Iced up pitot tube providing false data to computer which kicks off stall warning:
A pilot must be able to tell by seat of their pants that they are flying when they ask themselves Alan Bean’s question. I could feel what was going on as a commercial airline passenger - the pilot has to.
Stall must always cause the pilot to stick forward to pick up airspeed. How many of these “pull the stick back” accidents are we going to have before pilots start getting trained better ?
It’s like some of these guys grew up on video games and they have no stick and rudder training, and they’re not very logical - their brain locks up when the “modern” equipment starts barking 18 problems at once at them - “helmet fire”.
Never once to they possibly think that perhaps the systems may not be functioning correctly. I mean, I need to know this concept to diagnose problems with my car today ! I always start logically trying to ascertain whether I lost the gauge, the sending unit or the connection between the two, or the gauge is right and I do have the symptom that it describes.
Here’s an auto story: on the highway in heavy traffic with numerous heavy trucks, my car starts running quite rough, very low power, coming up to a hill. What do I do to ensure that I don’t stall out in that traffic and get splattered ?
Already aware of close traffic.
Turn on right signal light, start a controlled stop on the shoulder in the safest spot possible.
Turn on hazards.
Stay in car, shut it off.
Wait a few seconds.
Attempt to start it up again.
Oh, it started ok, the car’s computer rebooted. It had a misfire on one cylinder and that put the computer into a “limp” mode. The reboot initialized the computer so it attempted a normal start firing on all 6 cylinders and it worked ok. Answer: It was due for new spark plugs. Back in the shop, change the coils and wires along with the plugs.
Can’t freak out when things go wrong. Especially not when piloting jet airplanes.
I was reading an article on this in this month’s Flying Magazine.
Apparently airline pilots are trained to not nose down in a stall situation because the loss of altitude can lead to a hazard of collision in the busy air routes. Instead they are told to maintain altitude and correct the problem by adding power. This is contrary to the lessons learned very early in pilot training.
Apparently the pilots raised the nose to gain altitude and wound up in a mushy stall. At this point, the stall warning timed out. When they tried to do the right thing and bring the nose down, the stall warning sounded again, so they raised the nose again. Then maintained the same nose-high mushy stall attitude all the way down to Sea Level.
"From what we've been told, nobody realized what was going on. On that level, for my mental and moral comfort I am very pleased to hear this, when you know you had two people on board who were dear to you," said Corinne Soulas, whose 24-year-old daughter Caroline and son-in-law were aboard the flight.
With all due respect to Mrs. Soulas, I would certainly want to know there was a problem with the airplane if I only had four-and-a-half minutes to live. What a strange attitude to think that it is a good thing that people went to their deaths ignorant and unaware.
No. One of the early things a pilot learns in elementary training is that 'the seat of your pants' can easily kill you, because that feel is highly ambiguous when things start to go wrong. For example, it is impossible to tell the difference between a steady climb and level acceleration from the seat of your pants, or between a mild coordinated turn and level flight.
“Might not be a bad idea to have ground speed computed using GPS,”
There already is. These pilots ignored all kinds of good information.
I had one on my 1st boat. It was unreliable and inaccurate. Didn't work at slow speeds. I replaced it with a device that had a little paddle wheel on. It was far superior. Maybe they should try that? Just kidding.
BAN all pitot tubes. They are completely unnecessary in the electronic age. This is not the only crash or near crash associated with malfunctioning or blocked pitot tubes.
How do you propose to measure air-speed, not ground-speed, remembering that 100mph winds are not uncommon at 35,000ft?
Pitot tubes are good. Heated pitot tubes are better.
Goodrich heated pitot tubes, over Thales, best of all.
Geez, talk about your "blue screen of death"!
Isn't ANY tube you'd use on a commercial aircraft heated, given the time of day, weather, and altitude at which they fly???
I imagine so. There were reports that there was some problem with the heated pitot tubes on Airbus aircraft even before this accident. In fact, the crew had been told that the readings from the tubes may be unreliable. Since the crash, all pitot tubes on Airbus aircraft of this type have been replaced.
In Heaven...All the policemen are English, all the chefs are French, and all the engineers are German...
But in Hell...All the policemen are German, all the chefs are English, and all the engineers are French...
“If it ain’t Boeing, I ain’t going”...