Boeing 777 incident investigation points to pilot liability

Are the pilots responsible for the “serious incident” that occurred during the landing phase at Roissy of an Air France Boeing 777 on April 4? That day, on approach to Paris airport, the crew of flight AF011 New York-Paris had performed a go-around as they were preparing to land. The plane, with 177 passengers and 15 crew members on board, finally landed safely after a second approach.

“We went around so, flight control problem, the plane did almost anything,” the pilot explained to the control tower, according to audio extracts of the exchanges between the cockpit and the tower posted on the Internet. Except that the analysis of the black boxes containing the recording of flight data (FDR) and conversations in the cockpit (CVR) seems to rule out any technical problem.

“No anomaly was found on the aircraft”

“No malfunction alarms were triggered during the event. No anomaly was found on the plane,” said Wednesday by the Bureau of Investigations and Analysis (BEA). All the action took place in less than a minute, details the investigation office. While at 340 meters altitude, a different perception of the situation between the captain and the co-pilot caused them to abort the descent and go around.

This did not seem justified because “until the go-around, the trajectory remained within the operator’s stabilization criteria”, according to the BEA. The “plate”, that is to say the angle of ascent, was then too important for this type of maneuver, he believes. This led to a desynchronization of the pitch controls – which determine the attitude angle – “due to opposing forces”: “The captain kept the pitch control slightly nose down while the co-pilot applied several times more marked nose-up actions. Once stabilized, the crew “analyzes the situation, without having perceived the antagonistic actions on the controls”, adds the BEA.

The go-around, “a normal procedure”

Asked by AFP, Air France affirmed that it “continues to provide its full cooperation with the investigation”. The company “recalls that the go-around procedure is defined by aircraft manufacturers and Air France as a normal procedure, which is in line with safety”.

“Crews are trained and regularly practiced in these procedures practiced by all airlines”, she adds, recalling “that the safety of flights, of its customers and of its crews is an absolute imperative”.

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