Angry pilots say Air France crash inquiry shields Airbus
Thursday 04 August 2011
French air crash investigators were accused yesterday of "protecting" Airbus after it emerged that implicit criticism of the plane-maker was sliced from last week's report on the Rio-Paris disaster.
The largest Air France pilots' union withdrew from the official investigation saying it had turned into a "one-sided" prosecution of the crew of the Airbus A330 which plunged into the south Atlantic on 1 June 2009.
It was confirmed yesterday that the French air accident investigation agency, the Bureau d'enquêtes et d'analyses (BEA), had removed from its report at the last moment a "recommendation" that the "stall" warning on Airbus A330 aircraft should be improved or replaced.
It was reportedly known long before the crash that "stall" warnings on some jets could confuse cockpit crews by sounding when there was no problem.
Last Friday's interim BEA report pointed to the failure of the pilots to respond to repeated audio and visual warnings that their plane was about to "stall" – or lose sufficient "lift" to keep it in the air. The jet dived for three and a half minutes towards the ocean with "stall" warnings sounding, but the pilots made no mention of this fact in their tape-recorded conversations. All 228 passengers and crew were killed.
Air France, which is in a battle with Airbus to avoid the legal and financial consequences of the crash, claims that the pilots may have been confused, given previous experiences with faulty alarm warnings. According to one airline source, the stall alarm would sometimes sound while a message would appear on pilots' screens telling them to ignore the "superfluous" warning. Airbus says that it had received no "precise" reports of faults of this kind.
The BEA admitted yesterday that it had removed, at a late stage, a recommendation on stall alarms from its interim report. The change was made, it said, because it was felt that "further work was needed" on this part of the investigation. A recommendation on Airbus stall alarms would be issued in the near future, the BEA said.
Air France, pilots' unions and a support group for victims' families are indignant that an official report should have been issued last Friday including strong implicit criticism of the performance of the pilots but no mention of the faulty "stall alarms".
Entraide et Solidarité AF447, an association of French victims' families, has been protesting for weeks against what it sees as BEA's determination to pin the blame on the three dead pilots. The president of the association, Robert Soulas, said yesterday the belated cut in last week's report "definitively discredits the investigation".
"We have now the proof that the suggestions (that pilots were to blame) coming from the BEA were premature, biased... and skewed towards defending Airbus," he said.
Air France and Airbus have been placed under formal criminal investigation for the "manslaughter" of the passengers and crew of Flight AF447. The final BEA report is expected this autumn but the criminal investigation may continue for many more months.
- 1 BBC election debate: The one photo that summed up the whole 90-minute leaders debate
- 2 A bottle of wine a day is not bad for you and abstaining is worse than drinking, scientist claims
- 3 18th century sex toy found in 'toilet of sword fighting school' in Poland
- 4 'I wish my teacher knew...': Young students share their 'heartbreaking' worries in notes
- 5 Rebecca Francis accuses Ricky Gervais of using 'influence' to target female hunters after receiving barrage of death threats
General Election 2015: David Cameron catching up in polls – but he badly needs a clear lead
South Africa xenophobic attacks: Shops looted and violence on streets of Johannesburg as foreigners are forced to hide in police stations
Earthworms rain down from skies over Norway, puzzling scientists
18th century sex toy found in 'toilet of sword fighting school' in Poland
'I wish my teacher knew...': Young students share their 'heartbreaking' worries in notes
The only black face in the Ukip manifesto is on the page about overseas aid
Ukip is the only main political party to not address LGBT rights in its manifesto
If I’m being racially abused I don’t need a stranger with a saviour complex to rescue me
BBC election debate: The one photo that summed up the whole 90-minute leaders debate
Religion isn't growing, it is becoming vigorous in its demise, says philosopher AC Grayling
General Election 2015: Polish prince challenges Nigel Farage to a duel over immigration question
£30000 - £40000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application ...
£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...
£27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Domestic Service Only Engineers are requ...
£23600 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Employability Service withi...