Pilot error, pitot tube error

Bloomberg:

Flight 447 from Rio de Janeiro to Paris crashed on June 1, 2009, after ice-blocked speed sensors shut down the autopilot and the crew reacted incorrectly by pulling the jet into a steep climb until it slowed to an aerodynamic stall, France’s BEA accident investigation bureau said in May. The interim report from the criminal probe broadly endorses those findings. “The aircraft’s stall went completely unnoticed by the crew, who made no reference to it,” according to the report, which was presented to victims’ families yesterday. Faced with unusual readings, the two co-pilots, alone at the controls while the captain was on a rest break, ‘rejected them en masse’…

The document identifies no fault with the Airbus SAS A330, beyond the failure of Thales SA (HO) airspeed sensors which caused the autopilot shutdown…

Air France Flight 447’s crew reacted badly to an autopilot shutdown and misread instruments showing the plane’s rapid descent before it plunged into the Atlantic, killing all 228 people aboard, a report shows. We’ve lost VSI’s, the junior co-pilot said of the Airbus’s vertical-speed indicator, according to a recording detailed in the report from court-appointed experts. In fact, the instrument was functioning normally, its analog needle immobilized at the lower limit because the plane was hurtling toward the ocean at 15,000 feet a minute,

Aircraft are designed to minimize the number of situations where a single failure can cascade into a catastrophe. It’s pretty disturbing that the pitot tubes’ getting fouled can lead to a disaster like this on an airplane that sophisticated.

3 Responses to “Pilot error, pitot tube error”

  1. Maggie's Farm Says:

    Friday morning links…

    Maurice Sendak update USA: The Geography of Same-Sex Couples Steve Jobs quotes Charity And Temptation Power Bills to Skyrocket as Promised Racism grows among Democrats Washington Times Editor: I Want A Gun! (h/t Insty) Data: Gun crimes down i…

  2. Sam L. Says:

    Well, let’s wait for someone with appropriate knowledge weighs in. I’d wait for Capt. Dave at
    http://flightlevel390.blogspot.com/ .

  3. JTW Says:

    This outcome was never in any doubt whatsoever. It’s standard whenever the crew dies: blame the crew.
    That way there’s no liability for either the airline, the regulators, or the manufacturer.
    The manufacturer has no design flaw to blame them for, the regulator no flawed regulations (after all, the regulations weren’t followed), and the airline no bad maintenance or training record (the pilots didn’t do as they were trained).

    Noone to blame but the dead, no financial consequences. What used to be called “an act of God” in our politically correct and atheist world has to be blamed on someone, so they blame it on the only people who can’t defend themselves, the dead.

Leave a Reply