Air France crash pilots said to lack training

Hotel News - 02/08/2011

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Officials of the BEA, France’s air-safety organization, claim that the pilots of the Air France jet that plummeted into the Atlantic Ocean in 2009 were inadequately trained. Air France, however, has rejected the BEA’s allegation.

The BEA’s investigators have reportedly concluded that the flight crew had failed to discuss the repeated stall warnings the flight systems gave them. The pilots also, according to the BEA, lacked the training they needed to deal with the problem.

The BEA has called for all pilots to receive mandatory training in how to deal with high-altitude stalls. All of the 228 people who were on the Airbus A330 flying from Brazil to Paris died in the crash.

Jean-Paul Troadec, head of the BEA, said the situation had been salvageable in the last few minutes of flight. Investigators have drawn their conclusions based on information captured on the plane’s flight data recorders.

According to that data, the BEA says the pilots had not formally identified the aircraft’s loss of altitude. The BEA says the crew failed to do so, even though an alarm had sounded for almost a minute.

According to Mr Troadec, the tragedy was triggered by the automatic pilot being disconnected after the plane’s speed indicators failed. He added that the failure of the speed indicators was probably caused by ice crystals freezing on the instruments.

The head of the BEA went on to explain that the pilot should then have started a procedure called ‘Unreliable IAS’. Loss of IAS, or Indicated Air Speed, is supposed to be handled by assuming an angle (of attack) of five degrees.

This shallow ‘nose up’ attitude is meant to avoid the plane stalling (losing lift). The pilots of the ill-fated flight apparently put the plane at a much steeper angle of attack.

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