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 This recommendation was withdrawn from the draft report.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BEA explained in a statement that the safety recommention “was withdrawn because it appeared to BEA investigators that the recommendation was premature at this stage of the investigation.”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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EASA proposes Airbus Flight Control Primary Computer software update in wake of AF447 accident

August 3, 2011

The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) is proposing an Airworthiness Directive for an Airbus A330/A340 Flight Control Primary Computer (FCPC) software update in the wake of the fatal accident involving Air France flight AF447.

EASA states that it has been determined that, when there are significant differences between all airspeed sources, the flight controls of an Airbus A330 or A340 aeroplane will revert to alternate law, the autopilot (AP) and the auto-thrust (A/THR) automatically disconnect, and the Flight Directors (FD) bars are automatically removed.
Further analyses have shown that, after such an event, if two airspeed sources become similar while still erroneous, the flight guidance computers will display the FD bars again, and enable the re-engagement of AP and A/THR. However, in some cases, the AP orders may be inappropriate, such as possible abrupt pitch command.
In order to prevent such events which may, under specific circumstances, constitute an unsafe condition, EASA issued AD 2010-0271 to require an amendment of the Flight Manual to ensure that flight crews apply the appropriate operational procedure.

Since that AD was issued, new FCPC software standards have been developed that will inhibit autopilot engagement under unreliable airspeed conditions. The proposed AD requires software standard up-grade of the three FCPCs by either modification or replacement. The Proposed AD will be open for consultation until 30 August 2011.

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BEA releases third interim report on AF447 accident

July 29, 2011

The French BEA releases the third interim report in the course of their investigation into the cause of the fatal accident involving an Air France Airbus A330 in the Atlantic Ocean.

The third BEA Interim Report will be published on Friday 29 July 2011. This report will present the exact circumstances of the accident with an initial analysis and some new findings based on the data recovered from the flight recorders. At the same time, a press briefing will be organised at the BEA at 14 h 30.

The report will be available here:



BEA publishes AF447 investigation update

May 27, 2011

The French Bureau d’Enquêtes et d’Analyses (BEA) released an update with factual findings of their investigation into the AF447 accident.

Faced with the regular disclosure of partial and often approximate information since 16 May, the BEA wished to publish the update  so as to inform the families of the victims and the public about the first facts established, based on analysis of the data from the flight recorders, which started on 14 May for the FDR and 15 May for the CVR.

The updatr describes in a factual manner the chain of events that led to the accident and presents newly established facts. The initial analyses will be developed in a further interim report that is scheduled to be published towards the end of July 2011.

Only after long and detailed investigative work will the causes of the accident be determined and safety recommendations issued, this being the main mission of the BEA. The latter will be included in the final report.

View this document on Scribd

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AF447 flight recorders arrive in Paris for analysis

May 14, 2011

One of the recorders recovered from the sea bed (photo: BEA)

The flight recorders of Air France flight 447 have been lifted from the Ocean and have been transported to a BEA facility in France.

In the week following May 3, 2011 several parts of the wreckage of the Air France Airbus A330 have been lifted from the Ocean. Flight recorders, parts from the avionics bay and an engine were retrieved.

The flight recorders were flown to Paris on May 12.

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Parts of FDR found in AF447 underwater search

April 28, 2011

The FDR chassis on the Ocean floor (photo: BEA)

During the underwater search for the wreckage of Air France Flight 447 which crashed in the Atlantic Ocean in June 2o09, an ROV found the chassis of the airplane’s Flight Data Recorder (FDR).  

The chassis didn not contain the Crash Survivable Memory Unit (CSMU) that contains the data. It was surrounded by debris from other parts of the airplane.

The searches are continuing.

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France to resume search for AF447 wreckage in Atlantic Ocean

February 4, 2011

The French government said that another attempt to find the wreckage of an Air France A330 (FLight AF447) that crashed in the mid-Atlantic in June 2009 would begin in March.

The new campaign is based on the strategy of systematically searching all of the zones that have not yet been explored by means of sonar underwater imagery. It will begin in the 20 nautical mile (37 km) circle centred on the last known position of the airplane.
Given the large area of seafloor to be explored and given the performances expected from the simultaneous use of three REMUS autonomous underwater vehicles (AUV’s), the localisation campaign could last until July 2011.

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ATSB concludes investigation into unreliable airspeed indication incident involving an Airbus A330

January 27, 2011

Location of pitot and TAT probes on an A330 (Photo: ATSB)

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) concluded their investigation into an unreliable airspeed indication incident involving an Airbus A330.

On 28 October 2009, an Airbus A330-202 aircraft, registered VH-EBA, was being operated as Jetstar flight 12 on a scheduled passenger service from Narita, Japan to Coolangatta, Australia. Soon after entering cloud at 39,000 ft, there was a brief period of disagreement between the aircraft’s three sources of airspeed information. The autopilot, autothrust and flight directors disconnected, a NAV ADR DISAGREE caution message occurred, and the flight control system reverted to alternate law, which meant that some flight envelope protections were no longer available. There was no effect on the aircraft’s flight path, and the flight crew followed the operator’s documented procedures. The airspeed disagreement was due to a temporary obstruction of the captain’s and standby pitot probes, probably due to ice crystals. A similar event occurred on the same aircraft on 15 March 2009.

The rate of unreliable airspeed events involving the make of pitot probes fitted to VH-EBA (Goodrich 0851HL) was substantially lower than for other probes previously approved for fitment to A330/A340 aircraft.

In it’s investigation into the June 1, 2009 accident involving an Air France A330 (flight AF447),  the French Bureau d’Enquêtes et d’Analyses pour la sécurité de l’aviation civile (BEA) found 36 occurrences between the period 12 November 2003 and 7 August 2009 that the aircraft manufacturer concluded were attributable to the blocking of at least two pitot probes by ice.  27 events involved aircraft fitted with Thales model C16195AA pitot probes, the same model fitted on the AF447. Two events involved aircraft fitted with Goodrich 0851HL probes.

Both of the events involving VH-EBA occurred in environmental conditions outside those specified in the certification requirements for the pitot probes. The French Bureau d’Enquêtes et d’Analyses pour la sécurité de l’aviation civile (BEA) has recommended the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) to review the certification criteria for pitot probes in icing environments.

At the time of the occurrence, most of the operator’s A330 pilots had not received unreliable airspeed training. Most of these pilots had transferred from the operator’s A320 fleet, and the third-party training provider had not included the topic in its A320 endorsement training program, even though it was included in the aircraft manufacturer’s recommended program since 2004.

The operator identified the problem and included unreliable airspeed in its recurrent training program for the A320 from May 2009 and the A330 from October 2009. The training provider included the topic in its endorsement program from July 2010. The operator, training provider and the Civil Aviation Safety Authority all initiated safety action to minimise the likelihood of similar problems in the future.

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