The pilots of an Air France flight which plunged into the Atlantic ignored warnings and failed to follow textbook procedures according to a new report.
Based on recently recovered black boxes, French investigators have given their most extensive account to date of the 2009 crash of the Rio to Paris flight.
With all 228 people on board killed, relatives want answers. Some believe that technical failings put those at the controls in an impossible situation.
“It is completely unfair to accuse the pilots if we don’t know what situation they were confronted with, if we don’t know what was going on in the cockpit in the final minutes,” said Robert Soulas, President of the AF 447 victims’ association.
The report confirms that external sensors, likely obstructed by ice crystals, caused a temporary loss of reliable speed data for the crew.
While the captain was on a routine rest period and out of the cockpit, two co-pilots were in charge when the plane stalled or lost lift. They pointed its nose up instead of down, which is not the standard response, having failed to discuss repeated warnings of the problem.
Passengers were given no warning as the Airbus plummeted into the ocean at 200 kilometres-per-hour in a matter of minutes.
The report by the French BEA authority recommends training improvements but Air France has defended its pilots. The airline and the plane’s makers Airbus are being investigated for alleged manslaughter over the crash.