Air France Flight 447

Air France Flight 447 (abbreviated AF447) was a scheduled commercial flight from Galeão International Airport in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to Charles de Gaulle International Airport in Paris, France. On 1 June 2009, the Airbus A330-200 airliner serving the flight crashed into the Atlantic Ocean, killing all 216 passengers and 12 aircrew. The accident was the deadliest in the history of Air France, and has been described as the worst accident in French aviation history.

The Air France Flight 447 crash, considered one of the worst aviation disasters in history, could have been avoided, a top-ranking aviation safety expert said. “Absolutely, this accident didn’t have to happen,” said William Voss, the president and CEO of the Flight Safety Foundation.

BEA, the French government’s official accident investigators, conducted a three-year investigation into the crash, which killed all 228 people on board, including one married couple from Louisiana, when the Airbus A330 slammed into the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Brazil in 2009.

In the agency’s final report, which was released July 5, investigators determined that a combination of technical failures and mistakes made by inadequately trained pilots was responsible for the crash. They recommended that pilots be better trained to manually fly commercial aircraft at high altitudes and called for stricter plane certification rules.

“Our investigation is a no-blame investigation. It is just a safety investigation,” Jean-Paul Troadec, the director of BEA, told ABC News. “What appears in the crew behavior is that most probably, a different crew should have done the same action. So, we cannot blame this crew. What we can say is that most probably this crew and most crews were not prepared to face such an event.”

But the report went on to say that there were at least 12 other instances where pilots encountered this issue and the flights continued normally without problems. Voss said the Air France pilots didn’t seem prepared for the situation they found themselves in the night of the crash.

“[The pilots] seemed to have trouble looking past the automation they were accustomed to and not really able to continue with the old raw information that pilots used to depend on,” he said. “Clearly the report shows that there was a lot of difficult communication on the flight deck, a lot of incomplete thoughts, a lot of confusion.”

According to the report, a speed sensor on board the plane, called a pitot tube, stopped functioning after becoming clogged with ice at high-altitude while the plane was flying through a thunderstorm. This caused the auto-pilot to disengage and shift the controls back to the pilots. While flying in heavy turbulence, the pilots failed to properly diagnose the severity of the problem because the pitot tube, a critical piece of equipment to the aircraft, was sending inaccurate data to the cockpit, the report said. The pilots put the plane into a devastating stall and it fell rapidly from the sky, before pancake-ing into the ocean.

“Despite these persistent symptoms, the crew never understood that they were stalling and consequently never applied a recovery maneuver,” the report said.

Investigators noted that there was no possibility of surviving the accident. “The crew’s failure to diagnose the stall situation and consequently a lack of inputs that would have made it possible to recover from [the accident]” was a contributing factor, it concluded.

Content Taken from ABC News dated July 5- “http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/air-france-flight-447-crash-didnt-happen-expert/story?id=16717404#.UD_EQNaPVjJ

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