French officials on Friday unveiled a report about the last moments of Air France Flight 447, releasing information generated from ‘black box’ flight data discovered in early May.
The Rio de Janeiro to Paris flight trajectory was revealed, showing that the plane carrying more than 228 people was falling at nearly 11,000 feet per minute after stalling at a maximum height of 38,000 feet. Several warnings about stalling sounded as the plane hit turbulence.
Additional information provided flight input data related to the pilots’ movements.
The black box was discovered in what appeared to be good physical condition. It was found by a submarion scouring the ocean floor 3,900 meters (12,800 feet) below the surface.
The Bureau d’Enquetes et d’Analyses (Bureau of Investigation and Analysis) released a report outlining minute by minute what occurred.
Immediately below are selected moments from the report. Far below is the full report.
(Example: 1:55:32 means 1:55 a.m. with 32 seconds)
Date: May 31, 2009
Air France 447 Report:
Background: The plane was an Airbus A330-203 operated by Air France.
Flight: AF447 from Rio de Janeiro to Paris
People aboard: 3 flight crew, 9 cabin crew, 216 passengers
Departed at 11:29 p.m
Takeoff weight: About 233 tons, including 70 tons of fuel
1:55:32 to 2:01:46 – A member of the flight crew indicates “the little bit of turbulence that you just saw … we should find the same ahead. The crew members said that “unfortunately” the plane could go higher because of a temperature drop in the environment.
1:59:32 – 2:01:46 – speed is at Mach 0.82, flight level is 350
2:06:04 – A co-pilot (labeled as PF – Pilot Flying in the report) tells cabin crew that “in two minutes we should enter an area where it’ll move about a bit more than at the moment, you should watch out.”
2:08:07 – Turbulence increases slightly, crew decides to reduce speed to Mach 0.8. plane turns lightly to the left.
2:10:05 – Auto Pilot and auto thrust turned off and remain so for the rest of the flight. “I have the controls,” PF says. A stall warning sounds twice in a row. A sharp fall in airspeed from 275 knots to 60 knots takes place.
2:10:16 – PNF (the Captain – Pilot Not Flying) says: “so, we’ve lost the speeds” and then “alternate law …”
The plane begins to climb beyond 10 degrees. Vertical speed drops from 7,000 ft/min to 700 ft/min and plane rolls vary between 12 degrees right and 10 degrees left. Speed increases sharply to 215 kt (Mach 0.68)
Altitude is 37,500 ft.
2:10:50 – stall warning is triggered again. Plane is tilted 6 degrees as it climbs.
15 seconds later speed on ISIS increases sharply to 185 kt. Maximum height of 38,000 ft reached at angle of attack at 16 degrees.
2:11:40 Captain re-enters cockpit. All recorded speeds become invalid and stall warning stops. When speeds fall below 60 kt, measured angle of attack values are considered invalid and are not taken into account by systems. Below 30k, speed values are considered invalid.
Altitude is 35,000 feet and angle of attack exceeds 40 degreesand vertical speed becomes -10,000 ft/min. Nearly maximum engine speeds occur.
2:12:02 – PF says: “I don’t have any more indications” and the PNF says “we have no valid indications.” A stall warning sounds again.
2:13:32 – PF says “we’re going to arrive at level one hundred.” About fifteen seconds later, simultaneous inputs by both pilots on the sidesticks were recorded and the PF said “go ahead you have the controls.”
2:14:28 – the recordings stopped. The last recorded values were a vertical speed of -10,912ft/min, a ground speed of 107 kt and a pitch attitude of 16.2 degrees nose-up.