The tragic 2009 crash of doomed Air France Flight 447 has been attributed to pilot error, preliminary reports by French investigators of the Bureau d’Enquêtes et d’Analyses (BEA) have supposedly revealed.
According to numerous online reports that have circled in the last week, sources close to the investigation say the Airbus A330’s autopilot disengaged after unreliable airspeed readings forced the pilots to take back control of the aircraft. The faulty airspeed readings, most likely caused by heavy icing on the aircraft’s pitot tubes is thought to have distracted the pilots and taken their focus away from other vital systems on board the aircraft. This in turn led to the A330 stalling and plunging into the Atlantic Ocean, four hours into its flight from Rio de Janeiro to Paris and killing all 228 onboard.
Led by Air France Captain Richard Marc Dubois, the veteran pilot was out of the cockpit on a routine break, leaving his two co-pilots in charge. According to The Age, Dubois himself had clocked 11,000 flying hours over his airline career, while his more junior counterparts had 6500 and 2900 hours respectively. Encountering severe turbulence at the time of the incident, both less experienced pilots were forced to wrestle with the aircraft in an effort to maintain correct air speed and pitch altitude.
“It is impossible today to draw conclusions about any kind of responsibility,” Air France CEO Pierre-Henri Gourgeon told a news conference on May 19. “Let’s wait until the experts give us a coherent message before heading off in one direction or another and speculating.”
Air France has since been at odds with Airbus since the June 1 2009 crash, as to who is responsible for the unfortunate chain of events that transpired. Meanwhile, the BEA is due to publish a full report of its findings on May 27, and has remained coy about any media speculation regarding the crash.