Air France Crash Blamed on Pilot Error
The events captured by the black box recorders, slated to be formally announced by investigators Friday, will likely highlight that the jet slowed down a dangerous amount and the crew became faced with a series of automation failures.
Pilots on the flight from Brazil to France were apparently distracted by faulty airspeed indicators, reports the Wall Street Journal. This reportedly caused them to improperly deal with other vital systems, like adjusting engine thrust.
Sources familiar with the plane's black box recordings tell the Journal that the pilots seemed to be confused by alarms they received from the automated flight-control systems as the plane passed through some turbulence. Such turbulence is typical on that leg of the route from Rio de Janeiro to Paris.
The plane is also said to have faced unexpectedly heavy icing, which is known for making airspeed-indicators and other external sensors unreliable.
It appears that, while primary cockpit displays maintained normal function, the crew didn't follow protocol to maintain or increase the thrust that would have kept the plane's nose level. This was because they had trouble sorting out the warnings while also keeping track of essential aircraft functions of engine power and trajectory.
Reportedly, Air France pilots were never trained to handle such an emergency. But, since the accident, Air France and a number of other carriers have emphasized the necessary training.
Earlier this month another body was recovered from the wreckage. Fifty bodies were found during the initial search effort.
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