Verdict: Poorly-trained pilots to 'blame' for Air France crash

Ruth Doherty
Verdict: Poorly-trained pilots to 'blame' for Air France crash
Verdict: Poorly-trained pilots to 'blame' for Air France crash


A report by French investigators has found that co-pilots of Air France 447 lacked the training to deal with a crisis at altitude when it plunged into the Atlantic - killing all on board.

The Airbuss A330 went down on 1 June, 2009 after flying through a high-altitude, thunderstorm, killing 228 passengers bound flying to Paris from Rio de Janeiro. The passengers came from 32 nations, including five from Britain, three from Ireland, and two from America.

According to a report based on the flight's recovered recorder by the Bureau d'Enquetes et d'Analyses, France's civil aviation authority, the 'co-pilots had received no high altitude training for the 'Unreliable IAS' (indicated air speed) procedure and manual aircraft handling.'

The captain of the aircraft, Marc Duois, 58, was resting when the plane began to fall.

The report further found that one of the co-pilots, Pierre-Cedric Bonin, 32, and David Robert, 37, tried to right the plane by bringing the aircraft's nose up, the wrong thing to do in the situation and that "the engines were working and always responded to the crew's inputs."

No announcement was made to passengers as the plane fell. The wreckage was found over 10,000 feet down, on the Atlantic sea floor.

Jean-Paul Troadec, director of France's BEA (Bureau d'Enquêtes et d'Analyses) air accident unit (pictured) which headed up the report, said 'The situation was salvageable'.

Air France politely rejected the BEA's finding in a public statement, saying that 'At this stage, there is no reason to question the crew's technical skill'.

The statement went on to say that Air France will comply with any recommendations handed down be the BEA and praised the pilots for the "courage and determination they showed in such extreme conditions."

Both Air France and Airbus are facing manslaughter charges, with a judicial investigation led by Paris judges under way.

A judge has already ordered Air France to pay some £120,000 in compensation to the families of each victim, but this is just a provisional figure which is likely to substantially rise.