Air France crash defeats simulators
Almost four years after an Air France-KLM Group (AF) plane crashed into the Atlantic killing 228 people, Airbus SAS, which built the ill-fated A330 jetliner, is still seeking ways to help pilots avoid a repeat occurrence.
With flight simulators unable to accurately replicate the conditions after an aircraft loses lift, or stalls, wholesale changes to training regimes may be required, according to Airbus test pilot Terry Lutz. Other solutions might include giving more control to computers even in the confused conditions under which command currently diverts to the human crew.
Air France Flight 447 was lost en route from Rio de Janeiro to Paris on June 1, 2009, after its pilots took control when the autopilot disengaged in response to conflicting speed data later found to have been caused by iced-up sensors. “The whole training philosophies need to be adjusted,” Lutz said in a presentation at the Royal Aeronautical Society in London. “It’s time for everybody to take a step back in the training environment and decide what things are absolutely crucial and need to be maintained year after year.”
Air France Flight 447 was lost en route from Rio de Janeiro to Paris on June 1, 2009, after its pilots took control when the autopilot disengaged in response to conflicting speed data later found to have been caused by iced-up sensors. A probe by French accident investigators said the crew lacked the training to respond to the surprise scenario and worsened the situation by opting to lift the plane’s nose in an attempt to gain altitude. While work is under way across the industry to improve the models used to run simulators, until the feedback they provide is completely reliable their use could cause pilots to make poor decisions.