Air France 447 Flight Data Recorders Recovered

The black boxes from a Rio to Paris Air France flight that crashed into the Atlantic Ocean killing all 228 aboard have finally been recovered after a 2 year search. Some of the information from the flight data recorders have been released but have not provided definitive answers as to what actually caused the plan to stall and plummet into the ocean. What is clear is that sensors that feed airspeed information to the computer system of the Airbus A330 failed giving pilots unreliable data from which to respond to stall warnings. These faulty sensors have since been replaced on all Airbus planes. What is alarming is that Airbus Industries may have known that these sensors were defective.

Though there are still many questions left unanswered, and a full report not due out for another year, it appears that the co-pilots could not be blamed if data systems failed. That they were unable to take full control of the plane was not due to lack of skill, but may have more to do with the fact that Airbus’ fly-by-wire (FBF) technology makes it more difficult for them to do so. But even if they were able to take control, without accurate data, it would be like trying to fly the plane in the dark and even the most capable pilot would not likely have success.

While we cannot know with certainty what those last minutes were like for the passengers aboard the flight, it does appear that the flight crew remained calm and that the rapid descent may have felt more like turbulence than a nose dive. They may never have known what was happening. Death would have been instant upon impact and they would not have suffered.

My heart goes out to the families and friends of the plane crash victims. May this latest development in the investigation help bring them closure and peace.

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