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Air France Flight 447: Bad sensors, pilot error contributed to crash (+video)

A final report on the crash of Air France Flight 447 shows a combination of faulty sensors and the wrong response by the pilots was the cause of the crash which killed all 228 on board the Rio-to-Paris flight in 2009.

Air France Flight 447 pilots became confused
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The pilot of an Air France jet that crashed into the Atlantic in 2009 nosed it upward during a stall — instead of downward, as he should have — because of false data from sensors about the plane's position, the father of a victim said.

A final report on the crash of Flight 447 also points to pilot error, according to families of victims who were briefed on the conclusions before their public release later Thursday.

France's BEA air accident investigation agency has spent three years digging into what caused the frenetic end of Flight 447. The plane flying from Rio de Janeiro to Paris plunged into the ocean during a nighttime thunderstorm, killing all 228 people aboard in Air France's deadliest ever crash.

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Robert Soulas, who lost his daughter and son-in-law in the crash, says investigators said the flight director system indicated the "erroneous information" that the plane was diving downward, "and therefore to compensate, the pilot had a tendency to pull on the throttle to make it rise up."

Investigators had known the pilot unexpectedly nosed upward during the stall, instead of down. Soulas' comments are the first indication of why the pilot made that decision.

A basic maneuver for stall recovery, which pilots are taught at the outset of their flight training, is to push the yoke forward and apply full throttle to lower the nose of the plane and build up speed. But because he thought the plane was diving, he nosed up.

The report is also expected to elaborate on why the pilot nosed upward at such a sharp angle, and why the two co-pilots in the cockpit at the time appeared to ignore dozens of stall warnings going off in the 4½ minutes before the plane slammed into the ocean.

Barbara Crolow, a German who lost her son in the crash, said she was "disappointed" because she felt the report focuses too much on pilot error.


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