BEA Releases Update
Report On The Crash Of Air France Flight 447
By Mike Mitchell
May 29, 2011 - Air France Flight AF447 which had
departed from Rio de Janeiro on May 31, 2009, with
twelve crew members (3 flight crew, 9 cabin crew) and
216 passengers for Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport,
crashed killing all onboard.
France’s aviation investigating body, Bureau d'Enquêtes et d'Analyses (BEA), on Friday released its new findings report on Flight AF447. The report indicated that at the time of the crash, the weight and balance of the airplane were within the operational limits.
the time of the initial event, the two co-pilots were
seated in the cockpit and the Captain was resting. The
Captain returned to the cockpit about 1 min 30 after the
disengagement of the autopilot.
There was an inconsistency between the speeds displayed on the left side and the integrated standby instrument system (ISIS). This lasted for less than one minute. After the autopilot disengagement the airplane climbed to 38,000 feet, the stall warning was triggered and the airplane stalled.
made by the copilot were mainly nose-up, the descent lasted 3
min 30, during which the airplane remained stalled. The angle of
attack increased and remained above 35 degrees; the engines were
operating and always responded to crew commands. At around 22 h
10, the crew was cleared to start the engines and to leave the
parking space. Take-off took place at 22 h 29. The Captain was
PNF, one of the co-pilots was PF. The take-off weight was 232.8
t (for a MTOW of 233t), including 70.4 t of fuel.
At 1 h 35
min 15, the crew informed the ATLANTICO controller that they had
passed the INTOL point then announced the following estimated
times: SALPU at 1 h 48 then ORARO at 2 h 00. They also
transmitted the SELCAL code and a test was undertaken
At 1 h 35
min 46, the controller asked the crew to maintain FL350 and to
give their estimated time at TASIL. At 1 h 55, the Captain woke
the second co-pilot and said "[…] he’s going to take my place".
Between 1 h 59 min 32 and 2 h 01 min 46, the Captain attended
the briefing between the two co-pilots, during which the PF
said, in particular "the little bit of turbulence that you just
saw […] we should find the same ahead […] we’re in the cloud
layer unfortunately we can’t climb much for the moment because
the temperature is falling more slowly than forecast" and that
"the logon with Dakar failed". The Captain left the cockpit.
approached the ORARO point. It was flying at flight level 350 and at
Mach 0.82 and the pitch attitude was about 2.5 degrees. The weight and
balance of the airplane were around 205 tons and 29% respectively.
Autopilot 2 and auto-thrust were engaged.
At 2 h 06 min 04, the PF called the cabin crew, telling them that "in two minutes we should enter an area where it’ll move about a bit more than at the moment, you should watch out" and he added "I’ll call you back as soon as we’re out of it".
At 2 h 08 min 07,
the PNF said "you can maybe go a little to the left […]". The airplane
began a slight turn to the left, the change in relation to the initial
route being about 12 degrees. The level of turbulence increased slightly
and the crew decided to reduce the speed to about Mach 0.8.
From 2 h 10 min
05, the autopilot then auto-thrust disengaged and the PF said "I have
the controls". The airplane began to roll to the right and the PF made a
left nose-up input. The stall warning sounded twice in a row. The
recorded parameters show a sharp fall from about 275 kt to 60 kt in the
speed displayed on the left primary flight display (PFD), then a few
moments later in the speed displayed on the integrated standby
instrument system (ISIS).
Note 1: Only the
speeds displayed on the left PFD and the ISIS are recorded on the FDR;
the speed displayed on the right side is not recorded.
Note 2: Autopilot
and auto-thrust remained disengaged for the rest of the flight. At 2 h
10 min 16, the PNF said "so, we’ve lost the speeds" then "alternate law
Note 1: The angle of attack is the angle between the airflow and longitudinal axis of the airplane. This information was not presented to pilots.
Note 2: In
alternate or direct law, the angle-of-attack protections are no longer
available but a stall warning is triggered when the greatest of the
valid angle-of-attack values exceeds a certain threshold.
pitch attitude increased progressively beyond 10 degrees and the plane
started to climb. The PF made nose-down control inputs and alternately
left and right roll inputs. The vertical speed, which had reached 7,000
ft/min, dropped to 700 ft/min and the roll varied between 12 degrees
right and 10 degrees left. The speed displayed on the left side
increased sharply to 215 kt (Mach 0.68). The airplane was then at an
altitude of about 37,500 ft and the recorded angle of attack was around
From 2 h 10 min
50, the PNF tried several times to call the Captain back.
seconds later, the speed displayed on the ISIS increased sharply towards
185 kt; it was then consistent with the other recorded speed. The PF
continued to make nose-up inputs. The airplane’s altitude reached its
maximum of about 38,000 ft, its pitch attitude and angle of attack being
inconsistency between the speeds displayed on the left side and on the
ISIS lasted a little less than one minute.
At around 2 h 11 min 40, the Captain re-entered the cockpit. During the following seconds, all of the recorded speeds became invalid and the stall warning stopped.
Note: When the
measured speeds are below 60 kt, the measured angle of attack values are
considered invalid and are not taken into account by the systems. When
they are below 30 kt, the speed values themselves are considered
The altitude was
then about 35,000 ft, the angle of attack exceeded 40 degrees and the
vertical speed was about -10,000 ft/min. The airplane’s pitch attitude
did not exceed 15 degrees and the engines’ N1’s were close to 100%. The
airplane was subject to roll oscillations that sometimes reached 40
degrees. The PF made an input on the sidestick to the left and nose-up
stops, which lasted about 30 seconds.
At 2 h 12 min 02,
the PF said "I don’t have any more indications", and the PNF said "we
have no valid indications". At that moment, the thrust levers were in
the IDLE detent and the engines’ N1’s were at 55%. Around fifteen
seconds later, the PF made pitch-down inputs. In the following moments,
the angle of attack decreased, the speeds became valid again and the
stall warning sounded again.
At 2 h 13 min 32, the PF said "we’re going to arrive at level one hundred". About fifteen seconds later, simultaneous inputs by both pilots on the sidesticks were recorded and the PF said "go ahead you have the controls".
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