AF 447

Understanding Air France 447

When Air France 447 was lost on the night of May 31, 2009, the aviation world was stunned. An Airbus A330, one of the most modern airliners flying, an airplane with an excellent safety record had disappeared, leaving only a series of maintenance messages transmitted in the final minutes. It was hours before it was discovered that the airplane was missing, and five days before the first bits of the wreckage were found floating on the sea north of Brazil.

Theories abounded. The flight had transited a known area of thunderstorms and the maintenance messages hinted of instrument failure, possibly icing, and a pressurization problem. Had the airplane broken up in flight? Nobody knew.

Nearly two years later, after five sea search efforts, the airplane wreckage was discovered on the ocean floor - 12,000 feet deep.

The discovery of the flight’s black box recorders did not provide easy answers. The captain had left the cockpit for a rest break. Minutes later the two first officers flying the plane encountered unexpected icing in the upper levels of a thunderstorm causing the loss of their airspeed indications. The autopilot and autothrust tripped off, the airplanes modern fly-by-wire flight controls degraded to a backup mode losing its built-in protections. The two first officers struggled to understand what had happened and maintain control of the airplane, but were unable to do either.

They climbed the airplane and lost critical airspeed. The stall warning blared yet no recovery was made. The ice melted, yet the airspeed indications still did not function and the stall warning fell silent along with it. Deeply stalled, the airplane started an unprecedented plummet at up to three miles per minute. The captain returned to the cockpit but was equally puzzled as to what had happened and what to do.

Armchair experts came out of the woodwork, but none explained it all, and few got it right. A new book by A330 captain and seasoned instructor Bill Palmer, will be the most comprehensive explanation of what happened and why. Palmer puts all the pieces together like no one else; what happened, the weather, communication problems, how the airplanes systems played their part, the aerodynamics that many pilots don’t understand, what the maintenance messages really meant; how the pilots’ training and experience contributed to their failure to recover, and the future of pilot training.

Whether you're a casual aviation observer or an current A330 pilot, this book tells the story and shares insights you will not soon forget.

Get your Copy:

Currently available only in e-book format

iTunes store (iBooks) : pending


Companion Website

Download chapter 1 of Understanding Air France 447 and access other related data such as the accident reports, transcripts, flight data and other interesting materials at:

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