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  • Black box data from crashed Air France jet said to be intact

    [IMG]http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-UIPkHu8Vn8E/TcCqjR***YI/AAAAAAAAASM/Ow28bv1G0hM/s1600/Air%2BFrance%2B447%2Bblack%2Bbox.jpg[/IMG]




    PARIS (Reuters) – Investigators have pulled data from the black boxes of an Air France jet which crashed in the Atlantic in 2009, boosting efforts to explain what caused the disaster and killed all 228 people on board.

    France's BEA air crash investigation agency said on Monday it had managed to transfer all the information stored in devices hauled from the seabed two weeks ago, almost two years after the Airbus A330 vanished in an equatorial storm.

    The transfer -- carried out at the weekend and filmed in front of investigators from four countries and French judicial officials -- is the most important breakthrough yet in efforts to find out what caused the mysterious crash.

    The BEA brought forward its target date for publishing a new report on the crash by around six months and said it may be able to issue interim findings in the summer.

    "The most interesting thing will be to find out what the crew were seeing and understanding and how they were reacting and managing their responses," said Paul Hayes, safety director UK-based aviation consultancy Ascend Aviation.

    Flight 447 from Rio de Janeiro to Paris vanished in the storm on June 1, 2009, triggering an international hunt for the wreckage and black boxes that might contain clues.

    The recorders were hauled nearly 4 km (2.5 miles) to the sea's surface in early May after a search operation costing $50 million and shipped to Paris, where they arrived on Thursday.

    At first it was unclear whether the data would be readable.

    The successful data transfer includes all information from the flight data recorder, which monitors aircraft systems, and a loop containing the last two hours of cockpit voice recordings.

    The operation took place after the memory cards and chips containing the recordings were dried out in carefully controlled conditions at BEA labs just outside Paris.

    The data will now be analysed in detail, the BEA said.

    "This work will take several weeks, after which a further interim report will be written and then published during the summer," it said in a statement.

    Investigators had earlier said any information gleaned from the black boxes would take months to process and that they did not expect to issue a report until early in 2012.

    Relatives of some of the 228 people killed in the crash have voiced hope that their two-year wait for an explanation may soon be over.

    The next stage of the investigation is expected to focus on whether any systems were at fault, cross-checking with alerts sent out by the aircraft's automatic messaging system, and what information was available to the pilots before the disaster.

    Two Lufthansa jets were in the same area half an hour before the Air France crash, the World Meteorological Organization said at the time of the accident, but some passenger aircraft are reported to have taken different routes.

    Initial investigations focused on apparently inconsistent readings from the aircraft's Thales speed sensors, as relayed by the aircraft's automatic maintenance message system. But investigators have said no single cause can be identified.

    The BEA was expected to make two recordings of the black box data -- one for its own investigation and one for French judges probing whether anyone should be held criminally responsible.

    Air France and Airbus, part of the European aerospace group EADS, have both been placed under formal investigation, a step short of charges but which can ultimately lead to trial.
    (Reporting by Tim Hepher; Writing by John Irish; editing by Elizabeth Piper)
    Life is what you make of it

  • #2
    I recently watched a documentary about the crash of Air France flight 447 on cable television because I am fascinated about learning how transportation accidents occur and how they can be prevented. I was surprised to learn just how much we already knew before the black boxes were discovered. Thanks to the automatic messaging system that was transmitting all the faults that were occuring to Air France's headquarters.

    I had high hopes back in 2009 when I learned that manned submarines would be used in the underwater search during the first 30 days after the crash. That's when the black boxes were supposedly still transmitting a locator signal. But when they were not located after that herculian effort, I lost hope of them every being found.

    I am looking forward to the interim updates this summer, as well as the final report that is expected in 2012. Will the data confirm the speculation that the speed sensors confused the on-board computers?
    Living it one day at a time.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by BAinCJ View Post
      I recently watched a documentary about the crash of Air France flight 447 on cable television because I am fascinated about learning how transportation accidents occur and how they can be prevented. I was surprised to learn just how much we already knew before the black boxes were discovered. Thanks to the automatic messaging system that was transmitting all the faults that were occuring to Air France's headquarters.

      I had high hopes back in 2009 when I learned that manned submarines would be used in the underwater search during the first 30 days after the crash. That's when the black boxes were supposedly still transmitting a locator signal. But when they were not located after that herculian effort, I lost hope of them every being found.

      I am looking forward to the interim updates this summer, as well as the final report that is expected in 2012. Will the data confirm the speculation that the speed sensors confused the on-board computers?
      Pitot tubes (the speed sensors) failed on other aircraft including the A330 and pilots retained control before so if the FDR shows that there no were other unrelated faults then there might be crew error here although granted they were in a bad storm at night so that really won't help with things.

      http://www.bea.aero/docspa/2009/f-cp...90601e1.en.pdf the first BEA report released awhile ago.
      Life is what you make of it

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      • #4
        Wow, I didn't even know they were still looking for the recorders.

        And the fact that the recorders survived the crash, AND two years sitting on the ocean floor two and a half miles down... WOW to that too. Honeywell needs to start making cell phones like that.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Squirrel View Post
          Wow, I didn't even know they were still looking for the recorders.

          And the fact that the recorders survived the crash, AND two years sitting on the ocean floor two and a half miles down... WOW to that too. Honeywell needs to start making cell phones like that.
          Yep this is the 4th search that was funded by Airbus and Air France plus Woods Hole lent a hand with their deep sea experience which is most notable for locating the Titanic wreck. I think they raised some parts of the wreck including an engine and they are also recovering bodies that are still in the fuselage.

          Life is what you make of it

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          • #6
            MD11pilot, thanks for that image of some of the wreckage on the ocean floor nearly 2.5 miles deep. I'm surprised to see that the terrain appears to be flat without any obstructions. Initial search reports mentioned that since they were having so much trouble locating the black boxes, they surmised that this was because they were located in an area with underwater mountains the size of the Alps, along with deep crevices. Yet your image seems to dispute this.


            – Mon May 23, 10:44 pm ET
            (Reuters) – Preliminary findings from the recorders of an Air France jet that crashed into the Atlantic Ocean in 2009 have found that the pilots became distracted with malfunctioning airspeed indicators and failed to properly manage other critical systems, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter.
            The crew did not follow standard procedures to maintain air speed and keep the aircraft's nose level after the Airbus 330 encountered some turbulence and unexpectedly high icing at 35,000 feet, the paper said.
            Air France and Airbus were unavailable for comment outside business hours.
            The Journal said the cockpit recorders show that the pilots apparently became confused by the alarms blaring from their instruments and despite trying to systematically respond to each warning, were unable to sort out the chaos and maintain a steady course.
            The findings from the recorders, which are to be released on Friday, are expected to show that the twin-engine jet slowed dangerously after the autopilot disengaged.
            The crash killed all 228 people on board Flight 447, which was on a scheduled flight from Rio de Janeiro to Paris.
            Looks like a preliminary indication of false airspeed data that caused information overload that resulted in a disregard of proper corrective procedures.

            I still wonder that at some point as the aircraft fell from the sky, they should have been able to sense the dangerous descent. So why couldn't they recover?
            Could it be that damage to the aircraft was preventing a corrective response? Or was the cockpit crew even conscious?

            One report claims the descent from 35,000 feet to ocean impact took 4 minutes. Another report claims that the aircraft was still in the air approximately 3 hours after the first fault was transmitted to Air France headquarters.
            Last edited by BAinCJ; 05-24-2011, 04:51 AM.
            Living it one day at a time.

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            • #7
              PARIS (Reuters) – A French airliner plunged out of control for four minutes before crashing into the Atlantic in 2009, investigators said, in a report raising questions about how crew handled a "stall alarm" blaring out in the cabin. Information gleaned from black boxes, and recovered almost two years after the disaster killed 228 people, confirmed that speed readings in the Airbus cockpit had gone haywire, believed to be linked to the icing of speed sensors outside the jet.

              As Air France pilots fought for control, the doomed A330 dropped 38,000 feet, rolling left to right, its engines flat out but its wings unable to grab enough air to keep flying. The plane crashed on June 1, 2009, en route from Rio de Janeiro to Paris. Black boxes stopped recording at 0214 GMT.

              France's BEA crash investigation agency said in a detailed chronology of the crash that commands from the controls of the 32-year-old junior pilot on board had pulled the nose up as the aircraft became unstable and generated an audible stall warning. Aviation industry sources told Reuters that this action went against the normal procedures which call for the nose to be lowered in response to an alert that the plane was about to lose lift or, in technical parlance, 'stall'.

              This type of aerodynamic stall is nothing to do with a stall in the engines, both of which kept working as crew requested. "A stall is the moment at which a plane stops flying and starts falling," said David Learmount, operations and safety editor at the British aviation publication Flight International. A top aircraft industry safety consultant said the standard guidance in the Airbus pilot manual called in this event for the pilot to lower the nose by pushing the control stick forward.

              "The BEA is now going to have to analyze and get to bottom of how crew handled this event," said Paul Hayes, safety director at Ascend Aviation, a UK-based aviation consultancy. "The big question in my mind is why did the pilot flying (the aircraft) appear to continue to pull the nose up," he said.

              French investigators said the emergency began with the autopilot disengaging itself two and a half hours into the flight and the junior pilot, who had been in control at take-off, picked up manually and saying "I have control."

              The autopilot appears to have responded to a loss of reliable airspeed information. This was accompanied moments later by the disembodied voice of a recorded "stall" alert. It is what happened next that is likely to fuel most theories on what preceded the crash, but Air France and its main pilots union insisted faulty speed probes were the root cause.

              In a passage likely to attract particular scrutiny, the BEA said the pilot "maintained" the nose-up command despite fresh stall warnings 46 seconds into the four-minute emergency.

              "The inputs made by the pilot flying were mainly nose-up," the report added.
              The Airbus jet climbed 3,000 feet to 38,000 feet despite the crew having decided earlier against a climb, and then began a dramatic descent, with the youngest pilot handing control to the second most senior pilot a minute before impact.

              The captain returned after "several attempts" to call him back to the cockpit but was not at the controls in the final moments, according to information gleaned from black boxes. By the time the 58-year-old returned, just over a minute into the emergency, the aircraft was in serious trouble: plunging at 10,000 feet a minute with its nose pointing up 15 degrees and at too high an angle to the air to recapture lift.

              The BEA did not provide extracts of the transcript for the last minute before the jet hit the water with its nose up. It promised a fuller interim report which could say more about the causes of the crash in July.

              Relatives of victims had waited long for the report. "It's very emotional to see the unrolling minute by minute or second by second at some points of what happened," said John Clemes, vice president of the families' support group. "You automatically think of your family member and how they were living through this. It's the events that caused the deaths of 228 people so it's traumatic and moving."

              The BEA report put to rest speculation that the pilots recklessly flew into the center of an equatorial storm cell. Pilots had decided calmly to alter course slightly to avoid turbulence shortly before the crisis. But the pilot did tell flight attendants to prepare for a "little bit of turbulence." "In two minutes we should enter an area where it'll move about more than at the moment; you should watch out," he told cabin staff. "I'll call you back as soon as we're out of it."

              Air France said the crew had displayed a "totally professional attitude" and stayed committed to the end. The crew's response to stall warnings contrasts with advice to pilots contained in an Airbus training seminar in October last year, according to a document obtained by Reuters.

              In large red capital letters, the slide presentation says that in the event of a stall warning, pilots should "APPLY NOSE DOWN PITCH CONTROL TO REDUCE AOA (ANGLE OF ATTACK)."

              Two aviation industry sources said the drill in force at the time of the accident was to apply full thrust and reduce the pitch attitude of the aircraft, which means lowering the nose. Later guidance calls for pilots to push the nose down and adjust thrust as necessary, they said, asking not to be named.

              Despite the apparent anomaly, aviation experts said it was early and most probably far-fetched to blame the miscommands -- so basic one compared it to hitting the accelerator instead of the brake when facing a car collision -- on a conscious error.

              "One of the weird things about this is that the aircraft was definitely stalled, because the crew had had a stall warning, but they were not doing anything to recover from the stall," Learmount said. "It was almost as if they didn't know the aircraft was stalled, because they could have recovered."

              The report and a more detailed follow-up are eagerly awaited by lawyers representing victims' families, but cannot be used in many courts. A separate French criminal probe is also under way.
              So with a stall warning active in the cockpit, why does it appear that the proper corrective action was not taken?
              It appears that although the most senior pilot was not in the cockpit when the stall warning activated, there still was a second senior pilot and a junior pilot in the cockpit who were alternating control of the aircraft.
              Also, it seems strange that although the senior pilot did return to the cockpit during the emergency, he never took active control of the aircraft. Did he believe that whoever was at the controls was taking the proper corrective action?
              Last edited by BAinCJ; 05-28-2011, 05:24 PM.
              Living it one day at a time.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by BAinCJ View Post
                So with a stall warning active in the cockpit, why does it appear that the proper corrective action was not taken?
                It appears that although the most senior pilot was not in the cockpit when the stall warning activated, there still was a second senior pilot and a junior pilot in the cockpit who were alternating control of the aircraft.
                Also, it seems strange that although the senior pilot did return to the cockpit during the emergency, he never took active control of the aircraft. Did he believe that whoever was at the controls was taking the proper corrective action?
                Actually he did return to the cockpit after being summoned multiple times by one of the First Officers, it took him a while to work his way from the crew rest module to the cockpit while the jet was being tossed around plus we still don't know if he took his seat back. All 3 pilots (extra pilot due to longer flight and to permit one crew member to rest at a time) were qualified on the Airbus A330 and all received the same training although the Captain obviously has more experience than the junior crew members. Pages 14-17 will list details on the flight crew.

                http://www.bea.aero/docspa/2009/f-cp...90601e1.en.pdf

                As for why the pilots did what they did we will have to wait for a full report to be released during the summer but here is the latest note they released.

                http://www.bea.aero/fr/enquetes/vol....mai2011.en.pdf
                Life is what you make of it

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                • #9
                  MD11pilot, thanks for the links to those two official reports. I have skimmed through both of them and was shocked to learn that "The angle of attack, when it was valid, always remained above 35º".
                  Do you know what the critical (stall) angle of attack is for the Airbus A330-203?
                  Living it one day at a time.

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                  • #10
                    Do you know what the critical (stall) angle of attack is for the Airbus A330-203?
                    Not really familiar with the A330 but just like the MD-11 it would depend on state of flight and aircraft configuration (eg flap setting, thrust, and CG).


                    This will explain AOA itself better than I can

                    http://www.boeing.com/commercial/aer...ero_12/aoa.pdf
                    Last edited by MD11pilot; 05-29-2011, 12:08 AM. Reason: added link
                    Life is what you make of it

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