Air France 447 - 9 Years On

Air France 447

9 years ago, doesn’t it make you feel old that 9 years ago Air France 447 vanished without a trace?

June 1st 2009, Air France 447 took off from Rio en route to Paris. The overnight flight would cross the Equator which was known for vicious storms. Three men were in-charge of the aircraft.

The captain, 58-year-old Marc Dubois joined in February 1988 and had 10,988 flying hours,
The first officer, co-pilot in left seat, 37-year-old David Robert had joined Air France in July 1998 and had 6,547 flying hours,
The first officer, co-pilot in right seat, 32-year-old Pierre-Cédric Bonin had joined Air France in October 2003 and had 2,936 flight hours, (not much more than me on IF yet the things he did was Grade 1 worthy.)

The two first officers were in charge of the aircraft as it headed into the storms. The pitot tubes froze over as it headed into the storm. This caused the speed indicators to go offline and the autopilot to switch off. Normally pilots just keep the plane level till the autopilot comes back on 1 minute later. However, Pierre pulled the plane into a 7000ft/m climb. More than twice that of a normal climb just after takeoff. More than 10 times what is normal at that altitude. The plane stalled shortly after and the alarm went off.

This alarm went off 75 times before the plane crashed. Yet Pierre kept the nose back till shortly before the crash.

Once Dubois had returned and realised that Pierre was stalling an A330, he ordered to relinquish the controls and lower the nose. However, at 2000ft the plane GPWS warning went off telling the pilots to climb. They attempted to climb but the plane did not have enough room or speed. It crashed at 02hours14minutes28.4seconds.

228 people died making it the deadliest crash of an A330 ever, and the first A330 to have loss of life in commercial service.


As we get closer to the possible recovery of Malaysia Airlines flight 370, we have to remember lots of other planes have vanished into the water and taken years to find. Air France 447 crashed on June 1st, it took till June 8th for floating debris and bodies to be found. And took nearly two years for the debris at 3800metres to be found. Hold on tight, MH370 will be found, hopefully next week but maybe next year. Let this be a reminder it can happen

Video reconstructions and documentaries:

The Sydney Morning Herald. (2011). Bodies found in Air France wreckage. [online] Available at: [Accessed 1 Jun. 2018].
Wikipedia. (2018) Air France Flight 447. [online] Available at: [Accessed 1 June. 2018]

Stark, L. and BARRETT, K. (2009). Jet’s Tail Could Lead to Answers. [online] ABC News. Available at: [Accessed 1 Jun. 2018].


Is there any airbus pilot in here? I’m curious, is there any anti ice on the pitot tube? If there is anti ice system, why didnt they turn it on?

There are A330’s that have pitot tubes which are better at preventing icing over. The reason the A330 didn’t have them sooner is because of how pointless they are. When a pitot tube freezes over, you hold the plane level for 1 minute and then it’s solved. No need to pitch up so much that you slow to 90 knots

I thought the plane commanded the pitch up due to a lack of information and it got away from them before they knew what was going on. The real issue was in the stall recovery procedure.

The pitch up was man made. The computer was in no control at all because the pitot tubes had frozen over

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This is one of the saddest accident ever. So much could have been done to prevent it.

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The thing that confuse me the most is why that the FO pull back on the stick? And lets say that the plane is stalling,why is the FO doesnt press the side stick priority button? There should be an alarm if there is a dual input right?

How does holding the plane level de-ice the pitot tube?

It’s extremely tragic what happened. My sincere condolences to all those involved and the families of the victims, 9 years on its still a great loss to comprehend.

Whenever I see anything related to flight 447 I immediately think of these few things.



These images where on BBC new and Sky news for days just on there with the chilling title Air France 447 is Missing. Now that’s crazy to see especially since I hadn’t been alive to see many if those happen. Now it’s more common with the Air Asia incident, Egypt Air and MH370.

Then when the wreckage was found these were on the front pages of the newspaper, it’s crazy how it’s still intact and with containers still in there.



Anyway I just thought I would share this as I was so interested in what happened, glued to the news and reading every newspaper on it.


The phenomena is called ice crystal icing. It’s a very rare occurrence where liquid water can exist well above the freezing layer and into the troposphere. Upon contact with any piece of foreign matter (dust, dirt, aircraft etc.) it freezes instantly.

AF were aware of certain MOD state pitot probes that were susceptible to freezing. Airbus had issued an engineering bulletin to the effect that all such probes were to be swapped out asap. The curing time for the rubber seals is a minimum of 24 hours. AF engineering decided to defer the change until the aircrafts next C check.

At the time of the blockage the ‘computers’ would have happily been in control of the aircraft. Blocked pitots lead to under-reading ASI’s in the descent or over-reading ASI’s in the climb. If the aircraft flies level then the ASI’s will register no change. In turbulence however there will be discrepancies leading to the Unreliable Airspeed drill being carried out. At this point the auto thrust and auto pilot are disconnected. One pilot should, at this point, positively take control and the other diagnose. Fly the aircraft at all times.

Sadly there were many mistakes made in the subsequent actions which have been gone over many, many times. The aircraft systems didn’t help either and the combination of the two led to a disaster.

The positives to come out of the whole episode are that the whole awareness of unreliable airspeed has been ramped up and the training given has been robustly performed.

RIP and hope that the sad experiences have helped other avoid such terrible pitfalls.


From what I heard,

Captain Dubois headed out of the cockpit for his sleep break since it was an overnight flight. Pierre was in the cabin when the plane took off and Robert was in the co-pilot seat. After Captain Dubois left the cockpit, Pierre took over in the captain’s seat with Robert in the co-pilot seat.

After the pitot tubes froze and the autopilot disconnected, Robert was the one who pulled the nose up which caused the plane to stall. Pierre called for control and pushed his side stick forward. But Robert’s side stick was still pulled back and the plane’s nose was still pointing up.

By the time Captain Dubois came back and found out, it was too late.

Where did I get this information? I saw the air crash investigation.of this flight.

Anyways, this is a really tragic accident because of pilot error. Over 200 people had to die because of this.

That’s only one side of the story… There’s still those other cases.

So remember that lots of other planes have vanished into the water and have never been found. 😢

This is really sad, horrible is all i can say. From what i’ve found there hasn’t been anymore accidents with commercial jets where the pitot tube is at fault since AF447…

And for MH370… We can hope and pray for its discovery to arrive soon but only time will tell 😞

The difference between Air France 447, Malaysian 370 and Egypt Air 804, Air Asia 8501 was Air Asia and Egypt air didn’t vanish for long times.

They had crashed in the place they lost radar contact and it took just days for the Aussies to find 8501.

Malaysian 370 and Air France 447 crashed after they lost radar contact and no one knew the area they had crashed in. Thus the reason it took them so long to find

Air France was found in the same period as the others. The black boxes however weren’t for around 2 years.

You could then say we found Malaysian 370 in 2015

See my post on the MH370 new search thread.

This is the Haixon site, where two black box pings were detected in 2014. The AUV were deployed not long ago and it takes a while to read everything in this area

It just does, the only thing to unfreeze it quicker would be to dive to an altitude where it is above 0˚ and then climb back to 35,000ft.

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