There was plenty of backlash when I wrote about the causes of the 2009 crash of Air France flight 447 into the Atlantic Ocean back in May. Many of you wanted to wait until the final report came out, but I was confident that the story had become quite clear. With the latest interim report (which I can only find in French – summary in English is here), it looks like I was right on track.
Here’s what I said at the end of my last post:
Remember, the pilots were already working to pick their way through the worst of the storms. Add to that the loss of the autopilot, dozens of failure messages, and inconsistent speed readings and it seems like the answer might be simple. The pilots may have been so distracted that they forgot to do the one thing they needed to do to survive: fly the airplane. Once the final report is issued, look for training changes to come out of this and possibly even some changes in the way Airbus puts its airplane logic together.
Sure enough, the focus of the latest report is on training and puts a lot of the blame on Air France, but there is some discussion about aircraft logic as well. This has been enough for the investigators to push out safety recommendations, though not without controversy.
Throughout this 3rd interim report, a picture of normalcy is painted throughout the beginning of the flight. It was noted that when the Captain left to take his rest, he didn’t leave “clear operational instructions” and there was “no explicit task-sharing” between the two remaining pilots, but the crew composition was fine and the aircraft weight and balance was within the proper limits.
As mentioned in the last report, the crew was well aware of the weather ahead and had made course corrections to avoid the worst of it. That’s when things got ugly.
According to the report, the aircraft was flying at the “upper limit of a slightly turbulent cloud layer” when the autopilot disconnected. It’s believed that this happened because the pitot tubes froze over and that gave the aircraft incorrect speed information. When the system can’t make sense of the information it’s being fed, it shuts off autopilot and the pilots have to fly the airplane. Turbulence, however, was not a problem. The plane was perfectly flyable, but poor decision-making fed by weak training brought the airplane down.
Proper procedures were not followed for dealing with unreliable airspeed indication. To make things worse, neither of the two copilots had been trained to properly handle manual flying at high altitude. Despite the stall warning, the pilots continued to apply nose-up pressure, the opposite of what they should have done. In less than a minute, the plane went from being correctable to operating outside the design limits because of the improper recovery efforts by the pilots.
About 1 minute and 30 seconds after the autopilot disconnected, the Captain came back into the cockpit. At this point, stall warnings were going on and off and the airplane was still at 35,000 feet. Unfortunately, it was also losing 10,000 feet per minute as forward speed just disappeared. At times, the aircraft rolled from side to side as the pilots struggled to get the airplane under control. Those in the back must have felt sheer terror. The pilots never made an announcement to the passengers, and soon after, they all plunged into the Atlantic. I get goose bumps just thinking about how awful that must have been.
So after all that, what have we learned? We know the aircraft functioned properly. Were it not for the pitot tubes freezing over, this would have been a routine flight. Even when the pitot tubes failed, had the pilots been able to properly fly the aircraft manually, the passengers probably wouldn’t have even known there was an issue. Out of this, the French accident investigators have released safety recommendations that will need to be implemented by regulators in order to go into effect.
The main recommendation is around training. The idea is to make sure that all pilots have the proper training for manual flight at high altitudes, a skill which is rarely used in commercial aviation today. There is also additional training suggested around stall avoidance and recovery. Additionally, it’s suggested that the role of relief captain should be better-defined when the Captain is on rest. This way, there will be less confusion and more defined task-sharing if something goes wrong.
But the blame wasn’t solely on the training and pilots. One recommendation for aircraft manufacturers is to look at including an angle of attack indicator that pilots can see on the flight deck. There is an indicator showing the angle of the aircraft to the ground, but there isn’t one that shows the angle of the wing as compared to the direction of the air (angle of attack). That could have helped the pilots in their recovery efforts.
One recommendation not made was to revisit the way stall warnings are handled on the A330 aircraft. In fact, the pilots union at Air France is so angry about this being left out that it has decided to stop cooperating with the investigation. The on-and-off nature of the stall warning may have simply added to the confusion, and made it more difficult for the pilots to make the right moves. The investigators say that there wasn’t enough evidence to include this just yet, but it will be discussed in some form in the final report.
Regardless of what comes out in the final report, the picture is already very clear. It seems that current pilot training standards were not enough to help these pilots get out of an entirely recoverable situation. Were the Brazilians running this investigation, they probably would have already filed criminal charges against anyone they could, but the French handle this properly. Find the problem, fix the holes, and make sure that something like this never happens again.
[Photo of Sister Ship to Crashed Airplane via Flickr user Tab59|CC 2.0]
Cranky, you do a great job here…but no need to tout your own horn so much in the beginning. We can read your blog and know you do a good job (why you have so much return traffic..) – you don’t need to prove anything to your readers here. Just let the words speak for themselves. You’re got a highly successful thing going here
Good discussion, but don’t be so quick to praise the French over the Brazilians. Don’t forget that the French did (and continue) to engage in criminal prosecutions over AF4590 (the Concorde crash) against Continental and Continental employees. Granted, they did wait several years to do so, but they are still among the few countries in recent history to engage in criminal prosecutions as a result of a civil aviation accident.
Gah, you’re right. How could I have forgotten about that?! Well at least we know there won’t be prosecution in this one because only the French are involved.
I was going to bring up the same point, I think there have been some good op-eds on the subject over the years and there’s this 4 agency resolution on the subject: http://flightsafety.org/files/resolution_01-12-10.pdf
There’s not a pilot alive who doesn’t look at this accident and wonder what the AF pilots were thinking by climbing steeply. To suggest they need training to avoid doing that is about as sensible as suggesting that drivers need to be taught not to drive into brick walls. It’s just that fundamental to basic flying. There must be more to it. I wonder if this doesn’t illustrate the inability of the human brain to deal with novel, high sensory input situations, especially when life is on the line.
Two thoughts on implications not yet mentioned. First, what will this do to the Multi-Pilot License which skips out on the actual aircraft stall training that other pilots get? A traditional pilot will have performed stalls in actual aircraft hundreds if not thousands of times. It builds a very strong instinct for how aircraft fly in all attitudes and airspeeds, and I believe that training in a light aircraft is vastly superior to a few sim sessions in an airliner.
Second, with computer power being cheap it seems unreasonable that any air-data input should be dependent on just one type sensor. Clever engineers can surely derive indicated airspeed from AOA, altitude, weight, inertial reference, accelerometers, GPS. I’d wager that every bit of info going into the computers can be validated by the remaining sensors, either to flag invalid input or to provide a reasonably approximate alternative input. The Turkish crash could have been prevented if the 737 were smart enough to flag the Radar Alt data as invalid, and there are many other incidents and accidents caused by invalid computer input that could have been prevented with this kind of data filtering.
Glad somebody said it. When I was pursuing my engineering degree, I did about 10 hours of flight training before I ran out of money. I was maybe hour 2 or 3 into it when my instructor started teaching me stalls and stall recovery.
I mean quite honestly, “don’t keep pulling the nose up in a stall” is Piloting 101. Drop the nose, build some airspeed and drop the AOA. Rule #1 is always keep the airplane flying because bad things tend to happen when it stops flying.
There’s a lot of amateur pilot / general aviation types all over the Internets and on the news being armchair quarterbacks on this thing, saying stuff like “geez I learned to recover from / prevent a stall in my Cessna, so these French guys are idiots”.
I have two words for you: COFFIN CORNER. Read about this phenomenon and you’ll realize that high-altitude aviation is a whole different ball o’ wax, and that your PPL/MPL knowledge is worth almost nothing once you’re zipping around the stratosphere.
If you want to understand the situation properly, read the BEA report in its entirety. This thread is also great, with informed opinions from experienced pilots who actually fly the types involved:
There’s also a lot of highly experienced airline pilots such as myself saying the same thing, not just armchair PPLs. There’s no excuse for pulling the nose into a 7000fpm climb with >10 deg pitch up at FL350 in any airliner. It’s not something done deliberately. It’s either distraction, inadvertent, or clumsy attempt at the loss of airspeed data procedure. If it was intentional it wasn’t done with rational thinking. Either way, it’s not something that pilots need to be told not to do.
There’s an insidious feeling that develops after thousands of hours flying airliners that they are somehow immune from stalls. My airline has had several shaker/pusher events and incorporated them into training. One interesting observance is that the most under-performing plane has the fewest issues, in part because crews are more suspicious of its performance and monitor closely. There’s a disbelief that a jet with superb high altitude performance could ever stall. Maybe that disbelief plays into this. Maybe they saw -10000fpm and their brains couldn’t accept it as true. That’s partly why I say this may highlight the failure of the brain more than the failure of training.
Wei, are you the Wei one senior to me?
Erik: “There’s an insidious feeling that develops after thousands of hours flying airliners that they are somehow immune from stalls”
It is very strong for Airbuses: in “normal control law” the fly-by-wire system does not allow pilot inputs to stall the plane. Normally, an Airbus pilot will not be able to stall his plane with joystick inputs alone. However, pretty soon after autopilot disengagement, the fly-by-wire system changed to “alternate law”, dropping the stall protection ‘filter’ from the control input processing. In alternate law it IS possible to stall an Airbus.
I look at it from the view of a “Man-Machine Interface designer” and my question is: ‘Can a pilot reliably depend on important safety features in the design?’ AF 447 shows that pilots should not depend on Airbus stall protection, it can go away with little notification to the pilots.
That still does not answer why the PF initiated a steep climb… Why the PNF did not effectively correct the PF here… Why the pilots reduced engine power after a stall warning…
Well, this “amateur pilot / general aviation type” also happens to have a BS in aerospace engineering, emphasis in flight mechanics and quite a few years experience working aircraft performance, so I think I’ve already got a pretty firm grasp of “coffin corner” along with the remainder of the flight envelope and the nitty gritty of flying in it. :p
Even if you’re experiencing a stall up in the coffin corner, the last thing you should do is keep pulling the nose up, because all it will do is bleed airspeed, increase AOA and worsen the stall condition. In fact, I can’t think of a dumber thing to do than riding a stall all the way down 35,000 feet to impact.
Worst case scenario is that you drop some altitude, which makes recovery easier as increased air density both allows the wings to provide more lift AND pushes the speed of sound higher. You then push the nose over and let the aircraft start flying again.
You have accept that dropping the nose and possibly over speeding and damaging/destroying the aircraft is a lot better option than the assured destruction of riding the stall all the way to impact. It is an immutable fundamental truth that at some point, the plane has to start flying again or you will impact the ground.
Eric, regarding the computing power, the A330’s design dates from around the late 80s. I’m sure there have been some updates, but thinking through a redesign like you’re suggesting is probably more than Airbus could justify from a market perspective, and it’d probably take a good amount of testing to ensure that the sensors don’t cause some sort of loop upon themselves.
I’d hope that the A350, A380, 747-8 and 787 have this type of logic built in from the onset.
Cranky, I am a big fan of this blog….but come on, don’t break your arm patting yourself on your back or anything. Your faithful readers know you were right, you don’t have to force feed us. Your humility has always been one of your best assets.
Think I read something not to long ago about the more automation in the cockpit the less pilots will know what to do if they had to do it themselves. Not the exact wording, but you all know what I mean.
Cranky, I´m a big fan but praising the French for not filing criminal charges is “criminal!” Do you forget the pending charges against Continental at present over the Concorde crash? The only reason the French haven’t filed charges is because its an Airbus (partially French company) and Air France, (a French carrier) If this had been a Boeing airliner and/or other Foreign carrier, the magistrates in the French courts would have been having a field day!
Eric makes a good point about training. I think there is fundamental human trait here that the 2 relief pilots did not have (and maybe the captain): the ability to deal with things in a high state of pressure and resolve them. Some people can deal with high pressure circumstances, others just freeze and can not make even the simplest decision in a crisis.
Thanks for keeping us up to date on this. Thanks.
First of all, my clear recollection of training for stalls is: nose down, nose down, nose down! (and yes to the ‘experts’ I have high altitude experience). Also, what happened to the heated pitot tubes? And there is redundancy there, so did they ALL fail at the same time?
It’s more than a mere need to nose down.– we’re talking about loss of situational awareness. Night flight over water, essentially instrument-flight-rules but with loss of valid instrumentation. Plus current training is NOT simply nose-down — nose-down is simply one of many trained solutions to many scenarios for heavy transports at different altitudes.
Again, read the BEA report (the full English version is available now) in its entirety, and also read the airliners.net thread I mentioned. Your questions and many more have been raised and discussed in exhaustive detail there.
There were a bunch of problems with these pitot tubes and they were more prone to freezing than they should have been. Most of these have been or will be replaced by newer models.
I haven’t wanted to fly them since the YYZ accident. I’m in no hurry to try out Qantas given there years of issues as well.
I hate to jump in, but the “nose down” comments don’t acknowledge transport category aircraft stall training up to this point so they aren’t really accurate. Unfortunately there was a lot of negative learning involved with stall training, usually involving pulling like crazy on the yoke as the aircraft slows down without retrimming, and then powering out at the stick shaker, or before the stall has occurred. Its was never “nose down”, it was always “power out” with minimal altitude loss (less than 100 feet), which works during an approach to stall but not in this situation. It really is different than a Cessna, although that is getting fixed…..
High altitude stall training where you have to accept altitude loss and training beyond the shaker is occurring now thankfully and the travelling public should be confidant the changes are being made.
Muscle memory of pulling on a shaking yoke (never have flown airbus products) and shoving the thrust levers forward will fade, hopefully quickly. Here and with colgan it seems this muscle memory of pulling and applying power when being incredibly startled did them in, because they applied too much pull. I doubt AF training ever had any stall situations with the fly-by-wire envelope protections disabled. I’d bet a lot of money that a high altitude full stall with no envelope protections was never taught, and its hard to become a test pilot at night in those conditions.
Cranky is exactly right ” poor decision-making fed by weak training brought the airplane down.” or as I would tweak it: “Startled and confused pilots unable to overcome their over-applied muscle memory, developed from weak training, brought the airplane down.” Disclaimer – I have flown FBW and non-FBW aircraft but never the sidestick.
And too add more clarity, from my experience stall training used to look like this:
-engines to idle, airplane starts to slow.
-You pull and add trim to maintain altitude, this takes a while, you are pulling and trimming for 30 seconds +
-At some point you are no longer allowed to trim and have to really pull the nose of the airplane up to maintain altitude as the aircraft slows
-stick shaker, etc… announces the stall is close, maintain the pull and add full thrust to recover
Stop right there and take a picture of what is happening.
It seems in these accidents the stall warning immediately transported the imperfect human brain back to the simulator, and back to the end of the maneuver! Where: “one hand has to pull x amount, add power with the other, it’ll be fine shortly” If the autopilot has already done the trimming, the amount of pull you are used to is way too much. Thankfully the pilot brains will be retrained.
I’ve got my PPL too, and if there’s one thing I learned from working around large airplanes over the years is that I know next to nothing about them.
Now, I always assume that the human brain is somewhat rational. In this case, the pilots did what they did for a reason. The key here is trying to reverse engineer their thought process and see what lead to them thinking what they did. Only then can we really learn from this crash.
Despite the fact I’m no psychologist, I’m a big big fan of human factors work. Generally speaking, I don’t believe intelligent people do dumb things for no reason.
FYI: Le Figaro, French equivalent of the New York Times today published a piece stating that the BEA (French NTSB) only released 10 minutes of the 2 hours of Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR) they have for the Rio-Paris AF # 447 crash because other moments reflect very poorly on the competence and professionalism level of that particular Air France crew.
Not released, but obtained confidentially by the Figaro more CVR quotes from the Captain saying ” We’re no going to let some thunderstorms hassle us.” (original quotes in French “on va pas se faire emmerder par des cunimbs”)
Also that the flight was the only one that night not to take early and appropriate evasive action away from known severe weather in the area.
Also that in full knowledge of the severe weather, the CPT departed the flight deck 20 minutes before the crash saying ” It’s going to be bumpy, when I go to bed…” And then, as he exited the cockpit: “Okay…I’m out of here.”
Futhermore, says the Figaro piece, Air France also refuses, two years after crash, to release the training records of flight 44’7s crew, including a line check unsatisfactory ride the captain suffered in January 2007.
The CVR quotes leaked to the Figaro come against a background of furious infighting between the French version of the FAA, the DGAC, who should have probably (A) insisted that Airbus the know to be unreliable pitot tubes (B) mansated that Air France not fly planes with potentially defectives tubes, (C) better supervised Air France pilot training and certification….. and Airbus, in the hot seat for the pitot tubes and the lack of backup attitude indication instruments… and, finally, Air France and their pilots’ union.
I hope you’ve read the interim report (in French at first, and I believe an English version has since been posted). You have to read it, it paints quite a different picture than the 4-page English summary which in my opinion was worthless. There’s also a very interesting discussion on airliners.net that is quite interesting. Your conclusion of ‘I was right’ seems way oversimplified and in truth sounds wrong to me.
The BEA facts are close to what you said. Pitot’s likely froze and caused autopilot to disconnect, pilots manually flew the aircraft from there. The plane stall and was never recovered from.
You didn’t say this, but there are two emergencies here. First, loss of autopilot/autothrottle due to likely pitot failure. The pilot’s responses to there appear to have been appropriate although maybe overmodulated, but the plane also seems to have started rolling and the pilots attempted to resolve. On the unreliable airspeed, discussion suggests they didn’t call out the procedure but appear to have acted on it as it’s a ‘memory item’ not a checklist item.
Second emergency, a stall that ultimately went unrecognized. Airspeeds displayed by the computer were swinging wildly from there, stall warnings came and went, when the pilots attempted to put the plane nose down, stall warnings started, when they took the nose up, stall warnings stopped, etc.
The discussion seems to be that the pilots didn’t recognize their flying took them into a stall at first, and that they didn’t trust the stall alarm [one hypothesis is they felt they were in overspeed, because their engines were at full power, attitude was slightly but not egregiously positive, also because the stall alarm came and went, also they felt the stall alarm was unreliable because (a) stall warning can apparently be triggered by ‘low speed’ or ‘missing data’ and so they didn’t know if this was just the same issue at the first emergency, and (b) it is driven by unreliable airspeeds from the pitots, once you stop trusting them it’s not so easy to resume trusting them. Also there is a lot of discussion of what information was and wasn’t available to the Pilot Flying, since the DFDR doesn’t record it. Ultimately though, the pilots attempted to diagnose and resolve the wrong thing, never recognizing a stall and thus they didn’t apply a stall recovery. You should also note that several pilots are saying it would have been a very difficult recovery, not a ‘routine flight’ as you suggest.
The most recent leaks from Le Figaro referenced by Adam Shaw above, add another interesting dimension but I’m not sure what to make of them. Le Figaro has an agenda too, so do AF, Airbus, the pilots etc. You would have to take a position and choose sides to make sense of it all.
I also disagree with your conclusion. “It seems that current pilot training standards were not enough to help these pilots get out of an entirely recoverable situation.” You will find a lot of experienced pilots discussing the difficulty of escaping that stall
– at high altitude in a tight flight envelope
– with unreliable airspeed information
– with no AOA displayed to them
– with a plane that is giving you potentially incorrect warnings because of airspeed and other confusing computer information.
Personally I believe the ‘Procedures’ element of this will be reinforcing that the pilots needed to deal with the UAS more formally. It may or may not have changed the outcome. More significantly, I think ‘Training’ enhancements are going to be a ‘lessons-learned’ from this accident. They will discuss what and how this happened aerodynamically and how information was presented to the pilots. The training will essentially, in my opinion, remind pilots that at high altitude planes have a tighter flight envelope and extra care needs to be taken to avoid an AF447-like stall, and that the human-computer interface design is such that you need to be looking for it. It will teach the pilots how to interpret information especially if the computer is giving confusing or conflicting signals.
Lastly, not to pile on, but speculation is that passengers in the back would most likely not have been in a terrifying situation, but rather unawares of it unless they were watching ‘Airshow’ for the descent. The plane pancaked down to the ocean and didn’t experience severe G forces. It was dark outside, no visual references.
The previous report showed sudden stoppage of all electric sensors. That line of fault should have better been tackled from different angle. I think this accident and others along that longitude in the Atlantic ocean need more investigations and to be co-related to un-studied factor of the intense magnetic fields anomalies sometimes occurred along that line.
As chief pilot in our company we did hands-on STALLS at 30,000ft + to experience the attitudes one can get into with very small stick movements,also the dreaded “coffin corner”.This was part of our training at the company’s expense. This kind of training should be for all Captains in all Airlines. One subject that has been omitted is the ITCZ. Having spent a third of my carreer in that zone and experienced some unbelievable weather conditions, I find it irresponsible that a Captain left the flight deck in the hands of such low flight time co-pilots. Their appears to have been no weather debrief before leaving the cockpit ? At 20 miles their can be cu cloud 10,000ft. below and when you cover those miles you are suddenly faced with a “brick wall”. What sort of radar scan do you think these low time co-pilots would have been keeping at the time?
They definitely noted that the handoff wasn’t done well, and there were not clear roles between the two copilots left on the flight deck. I’m not sure that they were really that low time, IIRC, but certainly they weren’t adequately briefed on the situation and the division of labor wasn’t very clear.
Poor passengers! They had to suffer for pilot error. Why don’t airlines train their employees before they handle real planes. Check everything necessary to avoid accidents.
Just watched a documentary and the flight data and report about the accident.
I’m sorry but the pilot named Bonin should not have been given the responsibility of not even a Cessna. Reading the transcript I wanted to cry upon the incapability of that guy. Look at this part.
02:13:40 Robert Remonte… remonte… remonte… remonte… Climb… climb… climb… climb…
02:13:40 Bonin Mais je suis à fond à cabrer depuis tout à l’heure! But I’ve had the stick back the whole time!
OMG! The stall warnings coming on and off and you are pulling the stick the whole time????
I believe that since airline pilots constantly fly without actually flying the aircraft without any computer support, they forget manual flying in a chaotic situation. Because airlines don’t take them in once a year or 6-months to a local airport let them fly with a WWII type propeller airplane so they can continue to feel the aircraft and train on stalls. It’s much cheaper than booking an hour of simulation I believe.
RIP for all those who lost their lives, but this Bonin guy is a shame for all pilots. He totally screwed up and near the end he still didn’t grasp what was happening while the other two figured out and told to push the stick down, but they were two low to recover then.
Forgot to add. What the pilots needed to do (yeah I know it’s easier to say than to do) just ignore all error warnings and concentrate on attitude and the power of the aircraft ignoring all other messages from the control system.
However, since they were not used to fly without the system, they still try to figure out what was wrong with the system and their brain froze out under the flow of so many errors. Instead, they should have ignored all the warnings and just constrate on manual flying.
AFter flying so many times the same flights over and over, a pilot should have known by heart in at what altitude at what power, at what attitude, at which degree of pitch the airplane flies at what speed.
I.e. You should know by heart that at 35.000 feet, with an engine power of 85%, and 3 degree up pitch you will fly, say 0.80 mach.
So even if you loose the airspeed data (yes, all three redundant pitot tubes froze in this flight), you should manually fly the plane at a set configuration. But instead of setting the airplane to this configuration, they were trying to solve the airspeed problem all the way.
The letter of an A330 captain in the following link is very helpful.
My father was a A310 captain which had the early Airbus technology and had regular yoke rather than side stick like all new Airbuses. I remember he and his friends always praised Boeing for keeping the yoke and give feeling to the flight controls so pilots sense (especially the ones that come from military like my father) how the plane is reacting to the inputs.
This A330 captain kind of complains about the same thing.
That’s the difference between European VS American Pilot/Manufacturer philosophy of seeing aviation business… When somebody doesnt trust on their pilots and intend to sell equipment that is able do devalue the human being in a way that pilot should be less taken care of and respected .( I’ve experienced both geographic sides of aviation ) Hiring less skilled and kowledgeable persons is the reason… Some others are pioneers on the business and know that there is no better device in an airplane than a human hand , so no room for forgetting skill Most of the latest accidents are due to lack of basic skills of an aviator … America has shown an amazing safety record on airline transport. The professionals over there are highly expirienced and kownledgeable.Every airline interview covers technical subjects. Most of the european companies use IQ tests to see which one is best for the job-> THIS IS WRONG! Until europe stops thinking that flying is not about human skill but state of art tech… Things like these will keep happening… Examples : Turkish Amsterdam , Cause -> Total desorientation and loss of control of they were doing. Air France out of GIG , Cause -> Lack of confidence and currency on basic flying skills ( Airline pushes them to intervene as little as possible on the airplane and let the computer take them . US Airways – Success , cause -> Highly operational skilled professionals at the controls. Stop saying airplanes can fly by themselves .
From the perspective of a non-pilot, intrigued by this crash of a sophisticated aircraft:
A multiplicity of negative factors sealed the fate of this flight.
The plane should have been grounded until the up-to-date Pitot tubes were replaced. There was no backup, no use of new doppler shift measurement by lasers now available.
Current weather detection by satellites should have predicted the large thunderstorm and the flight should have been cancelled.
The stall warning system was flawed so seriously that it was activated when the nose was pitched down and cancelled when the nose was pitched up. How crazy is that?
The Autopilot kicks off automatically just when it is needed the most. The two dozen error messages were useless and distracting. Our computer technology should have been able to simply inform the pilots of the solution to resume safe flight. The pilots were in the dark, with no “feel” in the controls. The instruments were their only salvation, but they had been proven unreliable.
The Captain should have taken charge as Sully did. He would have been in the position to better sense what had to be done, just as the Captain of the 747 saved the flight when the 747 was doing aerobatics of its own accord.
How strong were the downdrafts and updrafts? 200 mph?
They did not stand a chance to survive these circumstances!