French Investigator says Pitot system failure not cause of AF-447 crash

Posted on 02. Jul, 2009 by in Featured

Alain Bouillard, leading the investigation into the June 1 crash for the French accident investigation agency BEA, says the sensors, called Pitot tubes, were not the only factor.
He says “it is an element but not the cause.”

With this statement I agree; and the unstated cause? Weather would be an easy explanation, however Mr. Bouillard has already stated the aircraft remained intact. That makes the weather an “element” not cause. What was the cause? The evidence points to a loss of control.

Putting the issue of whether the aircraft broke apart or not aside, the question then becomes what caused the loss of control? If the aircraft was intact then either the crew lost control or the fly by wire system failed. Two very similar incidents have happened with the Airbus 330 since AF-447. In both these recent incidents the crews maintained control and the backup fly by wire system functioned.

Therefore we must look for more data points. Qantas Flight 72 provides, in my opinion, a very plausible explanation. QF-72 experienced un-commanded pitch events caused by ADIRU #1 (Air Data Inertial Reference Unit) reacting to spurious angle of attack inputs according to the ATSB (Australian Transportation Safety Board). This event caused a loss of control to the crew, twice. The second time after they complied with the emergency procedures designed to prevent it, again according to the ATSB.

Another statement I agree with, is that if they do not find the Black Boxes, then the cause will not be definitively known.

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