'I can't control the plane': Air France crash pilots' last conversation

Ruth Doherty
'I can't control the plane': Air France crash pilots' last conversation revealed
'I can't control the plane': Air France crash pilots' last conversation revealed

Flight recorders from Air France flight 447. Photo: PA

The last conversation between two pilots who struggled to save the Air France jet that crashed into the sea has been revealed.

The black box recordings show the crew battled to find a way to save the crash of Flight 447, which killed all 228 passengers on board, including five Britons and three Irish doctors.

The conversation between pilots David Robert, 37, and Pierre Cedric Bonin, 32, was revealed by the black box recorder found two years after the crash in June 2009, and has been released as part of a report that ultimately lays blame with their lack of experience.

'What do you think? What should we do?' asks Robert when the Airbus 330 hit upon a tropical storm.

'I don't have control of the plane at all,' Bonin replies, as a stall alarm sounds for the sixth time in two minutes.

Marc Dubois, the 58-year-old captain, was on a routine break. He had 11,000 flying hours experience, compared to Robert's 6,500 and Bonin's 2,900.

'So is he coming?' Robert ­says, swearing in frustration as Dubois takes a full minute to get back to the cockpit.

Robert is also heard saying: 'What's happening? I don't know, I don't know what's happening.'
It is thought the plane's airspeed sensors had frozen up because they had frozen, and the plane was suffering a loss of lift, or stall.

But instead of lowering the nose to deal with the stall, as they should have done, they raised it.
'I've got a problem I don't have vertical speed. I don't have any indication.'says Bonin, before his captain says: 'I don't know but right now we're descending.'

The last four minutes sees the pilots desperately trying to control the plane with short, panicked questions.

As they approach the water, the on-board computer is heard announcing: 'Sink rate. Pull up, pull up, pull up'.

To which Captain Dubois reacts with the words: 'Go on: "pull".'

Bonin says: 'We're pulling, pulling, pulling, pulling.'

The last words from Captain Dubois, are: 'Ten degrees pitch'. The recording stops half-a-second later.

At no point do the crew discuss the possibility of dying, or losing the lives of passengers on board - they were fully focused on trying to right the situation.

Air France and Airbus are both facing manslaughter charges, and a full judicial investigation into the crash is being carried out in Paris.

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