The French air accident investigation agency (BEA) yesterday released its final report into the crash of the Airbus A330 en route from Rio de Janeiro to Paris that killed all 228 onboard. The report concludes that pilot error coupled with technical malfunctions of the speed sensors (pitot tubes) and faulty computer readings led to this disaster.
The findings of the BEA tell us nothing new. It was known before this accident that there was a problem with the pitot tubes on the A330 aircraft and they were being replaced but this was not a priority for Air France, Airbus or EASA. Early on in our independent investigations it became clear that a combination of faulty pitot tubes, computer systems and lack of appropriate pilot training led to this preventable tragedy. Among the 25 further safety recommendations the BEA have called for better training of pilots in how to handle unreliable air speed events at high-altitude.
It is notable that no public apology or expression of contrition has been made by Air France or Airbus or Thales (makers of the speed sensors) to any of the families who lost their loved ones in this accident. Continued finger pointing between Airbus and Air France over whom is to blame is highly distasteful.
The forthcoming Criminal Investigation led by Magistrate Zimmerman in Paris will be met with considerable interest.
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