An Air France plane crash in the Atlantic Ocean, which killed an 11-year-old pupil from Clifton College, has been blamed on the pilots and faulty equipment, air accident investigators said yesterday.
Alexander Bjoroy was one of 228 people who lost their lives when flight AF 447 from Rio de Janeiro to Paris plunged into the ocean in 2009.
A boarder at the school, he was travelling back to Bristol following a half-term break in Brazil in June.
Yesterday, investigators listed a combination of “human and technical factors” behind the crash, which happened during a heavy storm on June 1.
In one fatal decision, the report says, one of the co-pilots in the cockpit at the time nosed the Airbus A330 upward during a stall – instead of downward, as he should have – because of false data from sensors about the plane’s position.
Chief investigator Alain Bouillard said the two pilots at the controls never understood that the plane was in a stall. He said only a well-experienced crew with a clear understanding of the situation could have stabilised the plane in those conditions. “In this case, the crew was in a state of near-total loss of control,” he said.
The report included information from the plane’s two black box flight recorders, which were eventually found on the sea bed two years after the crash.
Pilot Gerard Arnoux defended the pilots’ actions, saying they were doing what they had been taught to do. “A normal pilot on a normal airliner follows” the signals on the flight director system, which tells them to go left, right, up or down, he said.
In a separate French judicial investigation still under way, Air France and Airbus have been handed preliminary manslaughter charges.