French pilot union suspends participation in AF447 investigation

August 4, 2011

The French airline pilot union SNPL  (Syndicat National des Pilotes de Ligne) suspended their participation in the Air France Flight 447 accident investigation after expressing concerns about the recent progress report published by BEA.

In a statement on their website, SNPL said that the confidence in BEA is “seriously damaged” because the BEA progress report published on July 29 did not contain a safety recommendation relating to the functioning of the stall warning. This recommendation was withdrawn from the draft report. SNPL is also concerned about other “significant” alterations in the progress report, but does not elaborate.

BEA explained in a statement that the safety recommention “was withdrawn because it appeared to BEA investigators that the recommendation was premature at this stage of the investigation.”  A new working group, which will be made up of specialists in cognitive sciences, ergonomics and psychology will have to examine all aspects linked to man-machine interactions and to the pilots’ actions in the last few minutes of the flight.

“Only after all of this work has been completed and included in the Final Report will it be possible for a recommendation on the functioning of the stall warning to be made, based on reasoned scientific analysis, work in which EASA will participate,” BEA says. Also, “it should be noted that the warning sounded uninterruptedly for 54 seconds after the beginning of the stall, without provoking any appropriate reaction from the crew. This fact must be analysed as a priority by the working group.”

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