Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The tragedy of Air France Flight 447

I've written before about AF447, which crashed into the South Atlantic Ocean on June 1st, 2009, killing all 228 people on board. The flight data and cockpit voice recorders were recovered from the seabed earlier this year, and have been undergoing analysis in France. A very disturbing picture is emerging from the analysis, which is discussed in this video report by David Learmount, Operations & Safety Editor of Flight International.

If you fly, or plan to fly, on any modern commercial airliner, please take the time to view this video. It's that important.

In one of his recent blog entries about lessons to be learned from AF447, Mr. Learmount sums it up succinctly:

Including Air France flight 447, there have been seven fatal loss-of-control airline accidents since the year 2000.

Altogether, they have killed 976 people.

The common factor in all of them was pilot inability to recognise what was happening and to do something effective about it in time to save the aircraft.

There's more at the link. Bold print is my emphasis. The other six accidents to which he refers are:

I can only hope that people in the airline industry, and authorities such as the FAA, the NTSB and their foreign equivalents are listening . . .



Anonymous said...

Reminds me of the movie: "2001: A Space Odyssey"

H.A.L. seduced the crew into believing he (it) was the master and took over and almost destroyed that mission.

The fellow in the video is correct. Modern commercial pilots depent far too much on computerization.

AirBus technology, in particular, seems to transit from computer control to pilot command without much in the way of confirming the pilot understands or even is made aware of the computer shutdown.


JimmyT said...

Yeah, I am a big fan of Boeing product simply because the aircraft will do what ever the wants, when he wants to do it. Not so on Airbus. The Europeans have for many models of aircraft gone down the line of taking controls away from the human in order to "protect" the hull or airframe. In one famous case, the pilot who had spent all his previous time in true stick-n-rudder aircraft attempted to save the aircraft from hitting trees and crashing by doing a time honered traditions of "flying" the airbus, but the aircraft flight control laws overrode his input and the plane hit the trees anyway. On any Boeing, Douglass (DC-10) or Lockheed (L-1011) he would have saved the aircraft and the few lives of passengers that died.

Also, and this is worse, the way they certify aircraft in Europe is way different than how the FAA grants Certificates. The FAA is much more demanding than the equivalant in Europe however we have a treaty that forces the US to admit these aircraft into our airspace (and carry Americans) to allow the US Made aircraft to be flown over there without going through the European certification process such as it is (still costly). Much to worry.

BT: Jimmy T sends.