A French government investigation into the crash of Air France Flight 447 has found that pilot errors in the wake of technical problems were responsible for the plane plummeting into the Atlantic in June, 2009, killing all 228 people on board.
The study, release today by the Bureau of Investigation and Analysis and reported on by CNN, explains how pilots reacted incorrectly when the aircraft’s speed sensors began to give inaccurate readings. According to a prior report, the plane stalled at 38,000 feet before falling for a full three minutes and 30 seconds.
The agency has now concluded that the plane did not fall apart in mid air and that the cabin never depressurized, meaning most of the passengers likely died on impact.
A black box recovered from the wreck shows that no announcement was made to the passengers as the plane fell.
As the tragedy began, the captain of Flight 447 had retired to take a nap, leaving the plane in the hands of a junior co-pilot named Pierre-Cédric Bonin, who was being supervised by another co-pilot named David Robert.
Neither co-pilots apparently had previous experience flying without instruments, and Bonin seems to have reacted by pulling the plane up to a dangerous altitude.
Robert was recorded telling the captain, "We've totally lost control of the plane,” after he rushed back into the cockpit.
In the wake of today’s report, pilot training regimens will like face greater scrutiny.