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General Chat Thread, Why Air France flight 447 crashed in General; Chilling... Print - What Really Happened Aboard Air France 447 - Popular Mechanics...
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    mattx's Avatar
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    Why Air France flight 447 crashed


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    Truly chilling indeed.

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    Whilst statistically the safest way to travel, its truly bone chilling that a mistake of that magnitude happened!

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    I've read that with my mouth wide open, I could not believe what I was reading quite frankly.....not only chilling but shocking.

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    I really shouldn't have read that, i hate flying

    Anyone else read the last 3 lines of the chatter in a dramatic way in their heads? Sent a chill up my back

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    I have not read the link as it wont load. I have read something a few months ago that due to ice forming on instruments the aircraft went into a stall. When this happens you pitch the nose down. But the pilots for some reason pitched it up. I have some background in aircraft and flying and this to be honest is a school boy error and should never happen.

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    Read it a couple of days ago and it really was shocking how a misunderstanding of what was happening to their aircraft and lack of communication caused the crash. Hopefully we'll see even better training in what to do when the unexpected happens for pilots.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FN-GM View Post
    I have not read the link as it wont load. I have read something a few months ago that due to ice forming on instruments the aircraft went into a stall. When this happens you pitch the nose down. But the pilots for some reason pitched it up. I have some background in aircraft and flying and this to be honest is a school boy error and should never happen.
    If you read the article it was a bit more than just that. It seems that the pilots were under the misunderstanding that they were flying under "normal law" conditions where the aircrafts controls simply won't let them stall the plane. As a result of all the pitot tubes icing over however the aircraft had disengaged autopilot and normal law and switched to "alternate law" where a pilot can stall the plane and there are very few restrictions. Apparently Air France don't cover flying the plane at cruise altitude while in alternate law. For comparison united airways 13 777's have never entered Alternate law, so its unlikely something either co-pilot (captain was on a rest break) had encountered.

    You really need to have a read of the PM article to see just what went on. It seems that actually while instrument failure caused the initial problems it wasn't the actual cause of the crash, but pilot error.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Soulfish View Post
    If you read the article it was a bit more than just that. It seems that the pilots were under the misunderstanding that they were flying under "normal law" conditions where the aircrafts controls simply won't let them stall the plane. As a result of all the pitot tubes icing over however the aircraft had disengaged autopilot and normal law and switched to "alternate law" where a pilot can stall the plane and there are very few restrictions. Apparently Air France don't cover flying the plane at cruise altitude while in alternate law. For comparison united airways 13 777's have never entered Alternate law, so its unlikely something either co-pilot (captain was on a rest break) had encountered.

    You really need to have a read of the PM article to see just what went on. It seems that actually while instrument failure caused the initial problems it wasn't the actual cause of the crash, but pilot error.

    The internet is useless in Australia, i cant see the article. Can you PDF it and attach please

    Thanks

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    Quote Originally Posted by FN-GM View Post
    The internet is useless in Australia, i cant see the article. Can you PDF it and attach please

    Thanks
    Here you go!

    Why Air France flight 447 crashed-what-really-happened-aboard-air-france-447-popular-mechanics.pdf

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    It is pretty scary reading. I hate flying personally, and this doesnt help. Pure technical malfunction is one thing - sometimes these things just happen. But when this has essentially happened because of errors by the crew, and them being unaware of exactly what was happening, it seems more scary...you put your life in their hands every time you fly

    Hopefully training will be improved after these findings

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    Why couldn't they find the captain? Surely a stall warning is sufficient enough to drag him back on deck.

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    A few things on this.

    Firstly, Woah!! It reminds me of a story I read (based on a true incident I seem to remember) where a jet hit a certain type of turbulence, this made the plane enter a kind of feedback loop of climbing and descending more and more violently. Any pilot worth his training knew that putting auto-pilot on would have fixed the issue as it could compute better than anyone how much feedback was needed but the story was around why this didn't happen.

    Secondly I have problems putting the first intro section of the article together with the transcript. The intro says "After all, the men who crashed AF447 were three highly trained pilots flying for one of the most prestigious fleets in the world." But then says in the second paragraph of the transcript that Bonin is inexperienced. I guess he may well have had lots of training but I'm not sure I would equate lots to highly. I know a lot of people will say, as does the article, that under pressure people don't always react as they should or follow their training, but that transcript reads, from the writers additions, like someone not understanding the situation and shouldn't have been left in control. To me it would seem a must to have pilots fly a simulator under "alternate law" to get a feeling for what it is like and what can happen.

    There are also a fair few technical and personnel things that worry me about this. The not having a hierarchy in co-pilots. Surely the most senior takes precedent, having more experience. Also why are the controls not connected. I know the system is fly by wire so not physically attached but as far as I can see you could potentially have one pilot pulling back and one pushing forward and not know what the other is doing. If they had been getting feedback from the other set of controls then the more experienced pilot would have felt the incorrect input and slapped him (or the pilot equivalent).

    This also highlights something brought up on BoingBoing. To make things safer and safer, more and more systems are being introduced. The problem comes when either we don't understand the interaction between these systems or humans do things the safety systems can't comprehend.

    As the article states, from now on it would probably be highly unlikely that this could happen again as this example will be taught at every flight school & be on everyone's mind. It will also hopefully highlight gaps in everyone's understanding and procedures.

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    The most scary thing that i've watched on this subject is the story of the boeing plane that had an event occur that forced the rudder controls over centre and essentially reversed them and caused a crash. if the pilots had known what had hapened the plane would have been awkward but manually flyable.

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    The AAIB website publishes quite a lot of reports which also make interesting reading:

    Air Accidents Investigation: Home

    Thankfully most of the reports are minor, some are actually amusing.
    Last edited by Gibbo; 13th December 2011 at 09:14 AM.

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