Lessons from Air France Flight 447 Rio-to-Paris crash (+video)
The final report on the crash of Air France Flight 447 says France's flagship carrier was subject to fewer inspections than smaller airlines. The investigators issued 25 recommendations, including ways to improve pilot training, cockpit design, and inspections.
Pilot error, defective sensors, inadequate training and insufficient oversight combined to send an Air France passenger plane plunging into the south Atlantic in 2009 in the airline's worst disaster, French investigators said on Thursday.
The final report on the Rio-Paris Airbus A330 crash that killed 228 people went further than expected in castigating the air safety establishment, saying France's flag carrier was subject to less inspection than smaller rivals.
The BEA investigation authority called for improved training of pilots, instructors and inspectors, and better cockpit design among 25 recommendations to prevent a repeat of the catastrophe.
Pilots' trade unions and Air France have been at loggerheads with planemaker Airbus over who or what was to blame for the airline's worst loss.
The report upheld initial findings that the crew of flight AF447 had mishandled their response to the loss of speed readings from faulty sensors that became iced up in turbulent conditions over the south Atlantic on June 1, 2009.
The doomed aircraft plunged for four minutes in darkness in an aerodynamic stall as its wings gasped for air while pilots failed to react to repeated stall alarms, according to flight recorders recovered two years after the crash.
"This accident results from an airplane being taken out of its normal operating environment by a crew that had not understood the situation," said BEA director Jean-Paul Troadec.
He added, however, that the same situation could have occurred with a different crew on board.
The report also found that the A330's speed sensors, known as pitot tubes and designed by France's Thales, were only upgraded after the disaster, even though there had been previous incidents with the equipment.