German newspaper Der Spiegel is reporting that stricken Air France Flight 447 appears to have entered a deep stall from which the Airbus A330’s crew could not recover before crashing into the Atlantic Ocean on June 1, 2009. The newspaper cites sources close to the investigation as saying cockpit voice recorder data shows 58-year-old captain Marc Dubois rushed into the cockpit from the crew rest area after trouble started and began issuing instructions to two copilots as they desperately sought to deal with the in-flight emergency.
Air France Flight 447’s flight recordings show the aircraft slowed to a stall after its speed sensors failed while the two copilots were at the controls, sources told the newspaper.
The crash killed all 228 aboard, triggering a massive search for the airplane wreckage and its black boxes, which were finally located two and half miles below the ocean surface earlier this month. French accident investigation authorities are expected to issue a factual report tomorrow as manufacturer Airbus presses for a quick resolution to the matter, apparently confident that no technical problems with the A330 caused the crash. Indeed, immediately after information from the airplane’s flight data recorder was analyzed, Airbus issued a bulletin to A330 operators telling them investigators had not been able to pinpoint any technical failure.
Details leaked to Der Spiegel paint a picture of a crew attempting to navigate around severe storms while en route from Rio de Janeiro to Paris before the airplane went out of control. The big question now rests on whether pilot error or a technical malfunction is to blame. Airbus reportedly would like to have that answer made public before the start of next month’s Paris Air Show.