Instinct can be a pilot's worst enemy during disaster

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The plane nosedives and the cabin begins to shake so the pilot pulls back on the control stick, a motion completely guided by instinct.

The feeling in your stomach is very uncomfortable -- it's scary," Jean-Pierre Otelli, a veteran flight instructor, acrobatic pilot and author of a series of books on aviation safety, told the New York Times.

In July French accident investigators published a report in on the 2009 stall and crash of an Air France jet over the Atlantic, and there has been much debate in the subsequent months about why the pilots failed to take appropriate action in the four minutes it took the plane to plummet from 38,000 feet before hitting the water.

The increasing prominence of human error as a factor in fatal crashes like Air France Flight 447 is a distressing phenomenon and according to Bloomberg, the French Pilots Union are calling for a more independent inquiry into the crash that killed all 228 people aboard.

During an investigation France's Bureau of Investigations and Analysis found that the two co-pilots in the crash had not been trained to fly in manual mode at high altitude or to recognize the approach to, and recovery from, a high-altitude stall, the New York Times reported.

The plane crashed after ice-blocked speed sensors shut down the autopilot and the crew incorrectly reacted by pulling the jet into a steep climb until it slowed to an aerodynamic stall, the BEA said in May.

According to the New York Times, critics said they welcomed the regulators' recognition of the problem, but feel they should have amended training regulations more swiftly.

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This page contains a single entry by trits006 published on November 20, 2011 9:45 PM.

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