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Anger at Air France

2009-07-13 22:04 via AFP

Paris – The head of an association representing families of those killed in the crash of Air France flight 447 accused the airline on Monday of keeping relatives in the dark about the investigation.

Christophe Guillot-Noel hit out after receiving a letter from Air France chief executive Pierre-Henri Gourgeon which he said ignored precise questions about the accident.

In response, Air France said it did not want to comment on a private letter between Gourgeon and Guillot-Noel, but insisted it had complete confidence in its pilots and was doing all it can to keep families informed.

AF447, a modern Airbus A330 jet airliner with an experienced flight crew, plunged into the Atlantic on June 1 during an overnight flight from Rio to Paris with the loss of all 228 people on board.

Some 51 bodies and 640 pieces of wreckage have since been recovered, but the plane’s black box flight recorders remain missing in ocean waters up to 3 500 metres deep, and the cause of the crash remains unknown.

“We are very, very disappointed with Mr Gourgeon’s response. Air France has not at all responded to our questions,” said Guillot-Noel, who lost a brother in the crash and chairs a victims’ support group.

In his letter, seen by AFP, Air France’s Gourgeon refers the families to the inconclusive, interim results of the French BEA accident investigation agency.

He also, and at some length, explains how pilots have the authority and the ability to avoid patches of bad weather, noting that a second Air France jet on the same route diverted to avoid a storm shortly afterwards.

“They are fully free to modify the plane’s course in consultation with air traffic control or having announced their plans on the area’s auto-control frequency,” Gourgeon wrote.

“Extra fuel is systematically loaded to cover these detours. These reserves were loaded onto AF447. The decision to detour east taken by flight AF458 that was following the same route 37 minutes later shows this,” he said.

There were electrical storms on the doomed flight’s route, but crash investigators have yet to link them directly to the crash, and Gourgeon insisted he was not prejudging the inquiry.

“In the absence of more consistent facts, and particularly the flight data recorders, please believe that we understand and share the despair of families faced with, at this stage, the impossibility of saying what happened,” he said.

Nevertheless, Guillot-Noel and one of the specialist aviation lawyers working with the families, felt that Air France was insinuating that its own pilots ought to have detected and flown around the storms.

“He seems to be implying pilot error,” Guillot-Noel told AFP, while noting the weather agency Meteo France has reported that the storms encountered by the flight were neither particularly fierce nor unusual for the region.

An Air France spokesman insisted that the company had full confidence in its pilots, and said that it was doing all it could to communicate with families.

“We are in contract with more than 2 000 people with ties to passengers on board that plane. Whenever there is news, whether from the BEA or from us, there is a news bulletin for the relatives,” Cedric Leurquin said.

He added that Air France had set up a website with information for the families, including contact details for victims’ associations and insurers, and documentation on the BEA inquiry.

Guillot-Noel said the association would consult with expert advisers and write again to demand more information from Air France. “I hope they’re not counting on us to let this drag on 10 or 15 years,” he warned.


13/07/2009  —  20h36 20h36 — the Efe in Paris via Folha (English Translation)

Brazil will have coverage of radar in an area where the Air France plane crashed, said Jobim

Defense Minister Nelson Jobim said this Monday in Paris, that Brazil work to install, up to two years, a device capable of providing coverage over a wide area of the crossing of the Atlantic Ocean – including the region where the plane of Air France fell, on May 31.

According to Jobim, the country works to deploy the technology SNS / ATM, which provide coverage of radar signals by satellite. Currently, Brazil uses three satellite systems to cover their jurisdictional area: the American GPS, the European Galileo and Russian Glonass.

One of the issues raised at the time of the accident was that the area where the aircraft crashed was poorly covered by Brazilian radars, and the air traffic controllers in Brazil have moved to his fellow Senegalese control when the plane disappeared.

Jobim met today, among others, with the chairman of Air France, Pierre Henri Gourgeon, and with the French Minister of Defense, Hervé Morin.

According to report released by France, Airbus of Air France is not broke in flight. According to investigations, the plane touched the water full with great speed.

The aircraft of Air France crashed on May 31 with 228 people aboard – most French and Brazilian. Overall, we found the bodies of 50 victims of the tragedy.



Blog citizen of a former captain

AF 447: Airbus, Air France, DGAC, BEA, EASA, what to do now! (English Translation)

For many years, the crews of Airbus A330/340 reported cases of loss or fluctuations of air speed indicators in severe weather conditions, the cause may be the presence of ice crystals and / or water mixed with particulate matter in the tubes and drains Pitot probes. Clog pipes and high complexity of the aircraft “fly-by-Wire” is déglingue!

It is an insoluble problem for the engineers at Airbus, because it comes from the architecture of sensors. The manufacturer then suddenly last SB, SIL, TFU and checklists! In 2006, to prevent serious incidents associated with Pitot probes as crews continue to defer any type of probe, Airbus increased the interval between 2 cleaning pitot probes of 2-C to check all the check-C ( or 18 months …) the rebroadcasting of SIL 34-084. Although serious incidents are continuing not to succeed, Airbus does over this interval as the logic would have liked, and as did the manufacturer Bombardier in 2008 for the same problem with the DHC-8 ( cleaning every 3 months)

– Airbus has to explain why!

Directive 94/56/EC of 21 November 1994 establishing the fundamental principles governing the investigation of accidents and incidents in civil aviation provides in its annex a list of examples of serious incidents. In this list are: “multiple failures of one or more aircraft systems that significantly hamper the operation of the aircraft. . There is therefore no ambiguity, the events associated with Pitot probes as crews continue to see incidents are serious.

Air France has officially recorded 9 incidents of this type before the accident flight AF 447. Crews have written “Air Safety Report (ASR) that have a path and use well defined. In the booklet “Notify incident” made available to operators by the DGCA said:

Apart from accidents and incidents, which must be reported promptly to BEA, the notice must be sent to the competent authority within three days. A copy of the completed form will be retained by your company. Besides the adoption of any corrective measures, your employer may be required, if the facts which have occurred or if their interest in improving aviation safety so warrant, conduct a thorough analysis of the incident. It will then 4 months to do this work forward and the lessons to the authority notified. “

– Air France has to prove that 9 cards of notification of these incidents were addressed to the DGCA and the corresponding RAS 9 were sent to BEA!

– Air France must prove that the depth 9 of these incidents have been performed

– Air France has to prove that the lessons learned from the 9 serious incidents have been forwarded to the Authority!

– Air France must provide a list of corrective measures were taken following the analysis of these incidents 9!

DGAC trafficking incidents operating first by “combing” of the events and then draw up a list to follow more precisely and then decide what action to take. The DGAC stated that to maintain the safety of air travel at its highest level, it applies a “method” proactive “, based on the reporting of incidents, considered most likely to maintain the risk of accidents to an acceptable level” .

– The DGAC must provide a list of measures taken following receipt of several serious incidents related to Pitot probes from Air France, Air Atlantic Caribbean and elsewhere!

When a serious incident occurs, the BEA says it will “identify and understand the circumstances, identifying the causes and derive lessons in safety.” Indeed, Law No. 99-243 of 29 March 1999 relating to investigations of accidents and incidents in civil aviation. Art. L 711-1.III requires: Any accident or serious incident of civil aviation occurred in an aircraft with an airworthiness certificate issued in accordance with the Convention on International Civil Aviation is the subject of a technical survey .

– The BEA has received numerous RAS on incidents related to Pitot probes, must disclose records concerning investigations related to these events it has made mandatory!

Certification of transport aircraft is regulated by the document “Certification Specifications for Large Airplanes.” It is the responsibility of EASA since 2003. Paragraph CS 25.1309 (c) of this document requires for the certification of transport aircraft that obstruction of the pitot tube probe and its consequences is reported to pilots so they can take appropriate remedial action, an alarm can indicate to drivers that immediate corrective action may be necessary in order to minimize crew errors which could create a hazard.

The EASA has to explain why it did not require the manufacturer Airbus made the necessary changes required by paragraph CS 25.1309!

The DGAC must explain why she had not done before 2003!

Airbus, Air France, the DGAC, the BEA and EASA have the answers to the families of victims of flight AF 447.

Citizen space implemented by Henri-Marnet Cornus, a former fighter pilot, former commander.


A Web site for pilots – documents, files and other goodies

In-flight ice encounter (ERA ASWG) Many of us will recall the days of turboprop operation, when we used to fly in icing conditions for hours on end and the shedding of ice by alternating the propeller speed was daily winter routine.  In these days of jet flying we quickly climb through the weather, and once in the upper airspace, are left at peace.  But we still fly our approaches in icing conditions: at low speed, with a high body angle and with the engine fans at low speed – a high potential for icing. This article is a straight transposition of an incident report, subsequent interview with the Safety Manager, and analysis of the problems encountered.  The closeness to the “adjacent” unfolding accident of a Fokker 70 provided an interesting dimension for the operating crew, and the subsequent analysis provides some poignant revision of the effects of icing on engines and airframe.

Use of rudder on transport category airplanes (pdf)(561kb)(BOEING) As part of the on-going accident investigation of American Airlines flight 587, an Airbus A300-600, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) issued a Safety Recommendation letter on Feb. 8, 2002. The letter recommends that pilots be made aware that aggressive maneuvering using “sequential full opposite rudder inputs” can potentially lead to “structural loads that exceed those addressed by the requirements.”

Use of rudder on transport category airplanes (pdf)(403kb)(AIRBUS) On February 8th, 2002, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), in cooperation with the French “Bureau Enquetes Accidents” (BEA), issued recommendations that aircraft manufacturers re-emphasize the structural certification requirements for the rudder and vertical stabilizer, showing how some maneuvers can result in exceeding design limits and even lead to structural failure. The purpose of this document is to re-emphasize proper operational use of the rudder, highlight certification requirements and rudder control design characteristics.

Use of rudder on large transport aeroplanes (pdf)(313kb)(UK AIS)   As a result of the A300-600 accident at New York on 12 November 2001, the NTSB recommended further guidance for pilots on the use of rudder and the structural implications of inappropriate use of this control.

Aerodynamic Principles of Large-Airplane Upsets (BOEING)  Loss of airplane control in flight is a leading cause of fatalities in the commercial aviation industry. A variety of reasons exist for airplane upsets, but none is statistically significant. Reducing the number of reasons for upsets is a continual training process, and eliminating one reason will not necessarily reduce the number of loss-of-control accidents and fatalities. Additionally, many reasons for upsets are associated with the environment, in which case avoidance is the best solution, but is not always possible. Therefore, pilots must have the necessary knowledge and skills to recover an upset airplane.

Airplane upset recovery A test pilot’s point of view (pdf)(102kb)(AIRBUS)    The idea for a joint industry working group to produce an Airplane Upset Recovery Training Aid* was first proposed by ATA in June 1996. It was in response to increasing interest by the NTSB in aircraft loss of control accidents which, together with Controlled Flight Into Terrain, cause a large proportion of all accidents. They were putting a lot of pressure on the FAA to produce new regulations covering this subject. The working group was a voluntary industry initiative to see what could be done within the existing regulations to improve the situation.

Airbus Safety Library

CFIT avoidance maneuver in FBW transports (pdf)(241kb)(ALPA)  A test program was developed to compare the CFIT maneuver performance capabilities of aircraft with hard versus soft Fly-By-Wire (FBW) flight control systems. To obtain this data, simulated CFIT avoidance maneuvers utilizing a Boeing 777-300 and an Airbus A330-200 were performed. These tests were performed at the Boeing Flight Test Facility in Seattle, Washington and the Airbus Flight Test Facility at Toulouse, France. As a direct result of this flight-test activity, one major US operator of Airbus aircraft (United Airlines) has changed the CFIT escape maneuver for these aircraft.

High Altitude Handling (BOEING)  Center of gravity (CG) and altitude significantly affect the longitudinal stability of an airplane. An understanding of handling characteristics at various CG positions and altitudes permits flight crews to use proper control inputs when manually flying throughout the flight envelope.

Flight in Severe Turbulence (pdf)(2.1MB)(AIRBUS)   A Close Encounter of the Rough Kind

New In Flight Contingency Procedures NAT MNPS (pdf)(50kb)(NAV CANADA)  An amendment to the international standards and recommended practices, as detailed in ICAO’s Procedures for Air Navigation Services, Air Traffic Management (PANS–ATM Doc 4444), became effective on November 24, 2005. The portion of the PANS–ATM amendment relating to contingency procedures will result in the NAT Regional Supplementary Procedures (NAT SUPPS, Doc 7030) being amended effective February 16, 2006. Until February 16, 2006, pilots should follow the contingency procedures as detailed in the NAT SUPPS, Part 1, “Rules of the Air, Air Traffic Services and Search and Rescue.” As of February 16, 2006, some of the NAT SUPPS contingency procedures will be replaced by the PANS–ATM procedures.

Oceanic Errors Safety Bulletin OESB-01-06 (pdf)(37kb)(NATPCO) ICAO North Atlantic Working Groups composed of industry, ATC and state regulators have noted repetitive oceanic errors. These include Gross Navigation Errors (25nm or more), Large Height Deviations (300 feet or more) and Erosion of Longitudinal Separation. Operators are reminded that the safety of the airspace is constantly monitored and its performance is reviewed. Thus, repeated errors present a recurring hazard and pose a threat to overall flight safety.

ACAS II Bulletins (pdf)(2.1MB)(EUROCONTROL) A series of ACAS II Bulletins is being published, each with a different safety related theme, and intended for a wide aviation audience. Each bulletin focuses on an ACAS operational issue relevant to both aircrews and air traffic controllers. The following bulletins have already been produced:

Bulletin 1 – Follow the RA!

Bulletin 2 – RAs and 1000 ft level-off manoeuvres.

Bulletin 3 – Wrong reaction to “Adjust Vertical Speed” RAs.

Bulletin 4 – TCAS II and VFR traffic.

Bulletin 5 – Controller and Pilot ACAS regulation and training.

Bulletin 6 – Incorrect use of the TCAS traffic display.

Bulletin 7 – The Dos and Don’ts of TCAS II Operations.

Bulletin 8 – TCAS II operations in European RVSM airspace.

More about ACAS:

Getting to grips with cabin safety (pdf)(7.5MB)(AIRBUS)    This brochure is a comprehensive review of Cabin Crew Emergency Procedures, incorporating Fire, Smoke, Emergency Evacuation, Ditching, Cabin Depressurization and Crew Resource Management.

Getting to grips with cold weather operations (pdf)(4.25MB)(AIRBUS)   The purpose of this document is to provide Airbus operators with an understanding of Airbus aircraft operations in cold weather conditions, and address such aspects as aircraft contamination, performance on contaminated runways, fuel freezing limitations and altimeter corrections.

Training philosophy for protected aircraft in emergency situations (pdf)(446kb)(AIRBUS)   The civil aviation environment has evolved considerably in the past decade. The passenger and cargo demands have increased enormously, leading to a far larger number of aircraft in service. Also flight safety criteria have become more and more stringent. Furthermore, the media and the expectations of the public, in terms of safety, have set even greater pressure on the civil aviation industry. Although the accident rates have dropped considerably, due to the ever-increasing number of airliners in service, accidents do not seem to be much less frequent, and it is this factor which may influence public opinion. Consequently, the civil aviation industry has to fight untiringly against the main causes of accidents which occur mostly in approach phases: controlled flight into terrain, and to a lesser extent, windshear.

Airbus Safety Library

Lighting strikes and Airbus FBW aircraft (pdf)(131kb)(AIRBUS)   Pilots new to fly-by-wire aircraft tend to ask very legitimate questions concerning the effect of lightning strikes on the systems of these technically very advanced aircraft. In general, lightning strikes generate direct and indirect effects on aircraft.

Airbus Safety Library

Airborne Weather Radar Interpretation (pdf)(2.9MB)(Honeywell) This familiarisation is targeted for aircraft equipped with Honeywell weather radar. The fundamental principles are, however, applicable to all weather radars in all aircraft.

Optimum Use of the Weather Radar (pdf)(441kb)(AIRBUS)   The aim of this Flight Operational Briefing Note is to provide additional information about weather radar capabilities and limitations, in order to improve the flight crew’s overall understanding of the system, and to help prevent such incidents from occurring. Airbus Safety Library

Engineering Aspects of Cabin Air Quality (pdf)(175kb)(BOEING) This paper discusses engineering aspects of a modern commercial jet airliner environmental control system (ECS), focusing on cabin air quality. News media coverage suggests that aircraft cabin air quality is a serious concern. However, an objective review of pertinent data and comprehensive testing do not support this perception.

Continuous ignition selection in adverse weather (pdf)(80kb)(AIRBUS)    The recommendation for the selection of the continuous ignition selection in turbulence conditions has been deleted from the FCOM. This paper explains the reasons of this deletion. Here are listed, for each engine manufacturer, the instruction to be applied in case of adverse weather as far the continuous ignition is concerned.

A330 Flight deck and systems briefing for pilots (pfd)(6.2MB)(AIRBUS)   General, flight deck layout, electrical system, hydraulic system, flight controls, landing gear, fuel system, engine controls, auxiliary power unit, automatic flight system, environmental flight system, electronic instrument system, radio management and communication, central maintenance system.

Optimum Use of Automation (pdf)(210kb)(AIRBUS) refers to the integrated and coordinated use of the following systems:

• Autopilot / flight director (AP / FD);

• Autothrottle / autothrust (A/THR); and,

Flight management system (FMS).

Three generations of flight guidance systems are currently in airline service, providing different levels of integration and automation.

Flight Crew Reliance on Automation (pdf)(248kb)(UKCAA)  Modern large transport aircraft have an increasing amount of automation and crews are placing greater reliance on this automation. Consequently, there is a risk that flight crew no longer have the necessary skills to react appropriately to either failures in automation, programming errors or a loss of situational awareness. Dependence on automatics could lead to crews accepting what the aircraft was doing without proper monitoring. Crews of highly automated aircraft might lose their manual flying skills, and there is a risk of crews responding inappropriately to failures. This preliminary report is intended to provide clarification of areas of concern.

Coping with long-range flying (pdf)(3.28MB)(AIRBUS)   Recommendations for crew rest and alertness a flight operations view. This recommendation guide was put together after a series of extensive field studies supported by the DIRECTION GENERALE DE L’AVIATION CIVILE spanning some 156 long-range flights during military transport and commercial airline service. Data collection on physiological behaviour and crew functions and activities were the result of a joint effort by the UNIVERSITY RENE DESCARTES in Paris and AIRBUS’s Training and Flight Operations Support Division. Airbus Safety Library