Air France Report Cites Pilots And Gear

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PARIS, July 29 (UPI) — The French agency investigating the crash of an Air France jet into the Atlantic Ocean called Friday for better pilot training and equipment upgrades.

An interim report cites both gear malfunctions and pilot error in the June 1, 2009, Rio-to-Paris Flight 447 crash, which killed all 228 people aboard.

The Bureau d’Enquêtes et d’Analyses made 10 safety recommendations, including placing an image recorder in the cockpit that can observe the whole instrument panel and better “task sharing” with relief crews, The Wall Street Journal reports.

The cockpit crew of the Airbus A330 was distracted by fluctuating air-speed indications and kept pulling back on the controls while reducing engine thrust as the jet fell into the sea, a violation of standard procedure, the report said.

Air France said Friday, “at this stage, there is no reason to question the crew’s technical skills” and pointed to faulty equipment.

The BEA said the air-speed instruments gave conflicting readings, probably because ice was blocking sensors on the exterior of the plane. But the engines functioned throughout and responded to pilot directions.

The agency said airlines must train pilots in manual airplane handling, especially during high-altitude stalls.

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