French air accident investigators have blamed pilot error for the crash of an Air France Airbus A330 en route from Rio de Janeiro to Paris.
The Air France flight went down in the Atlantic on June 1 2009, killing 228 passengers and crew. An interim report by the French air accident investigation bureau, BEA, has attributed the disaster to a “series of failings” by the pilots after sensors providing speed readings froze.
The bureau reported a sequence of events that unfolded after the aircraft encountered turbulence, saying: “The situation was salvageable.”
The BEA suggests the least experienced of the three pilots in charge of the aircraft was at the controls when the speed sensors failed, leading the autopilot to disengage and hand control of the aircraft to the pilot.
He appears to have reacted by taking the aircraft above 37,000 feet, where the engines stalled. By the time a more experienced pilot returned to the controls it was too late.
In a statement, Air France said the altitude alert system had malfunctioned. Airbus welcomed the interim BEA report. Both companies face potential charges. The BEA recommended additional training on manual flying for pilots.
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