PARIS (TheStreet) - A faulty speed indicator and a lengthy stall were part of the sequence of events that led to the 2009 crash of an Air France jet off Brazil, French investigators said Friday.
New details about the mysterious crash are emerging because the airplane's black boxes were recovered early this month, deep in the Atlantic Ocean. The June 1, 2009, crash killed all 228 people aboard the Rio de Janiero-to-Paris flight.
According to a report released by the Bureau of Investigations and Analyses, or BEA, the Airbus A330 stalled for more than 3 1/2 minutes as it plummeted from 38,000 feet into the Atlantic Ocean.
Brazil's Navy sailors recovering debris from the missing Air France jet at the Atlantic Ocean on June 9, 2009.
"Reacting to wildly fluctuating airspeed indications and apparently confused by repeated stall warnings, pilots ... continued to pull the nose up sharply -- contrary to standard procedure -- even as the Airbus A330 plummeted toward the Atlantic Ocean,"
The Wall Street Journal
In training, pilots are taught to push the nose down in the event of a stall, in an effort to regain speed and control of the aircraft.
"The report also paints a somewhat unflattering picture of a seemingly confused cockpit, with the crew making extreme inputs to their flight controls and the engines spooling up to full power and later the thrust levers being pulled back to idle," the newspaper said. "At one point, according to the report, both pilots sitting in front of the controls tried to put in simultaneous commands."
The senior captain of the flight, who had been taking a routine break, quickly returned to the cabin when the problems began.
Air France said "the initial problem was the failure of the speed probes which led to the disconnection of the autopilot and the loss of the associated piloting protection systems." That meant the pilots were attempting to manually control the aircraft during the descent, as stall warnings were being triggered.
The failure of the speed probes, likely due to icing of the airspeed sensors, is believed to have triggered the sequence of events that led to the crash.
"We are still trying to interpret this information in order to have a better understanding of what happened," said BEA director Jean-Paul Troadec, according to
The New York Times
. "That work has just begun."
-- Written by Ted Reed in Charlotte
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