The answers that I have researched seem viable. To pilot error, the crew was highly experienced and had flown this route many times prior. Re the pitot tubes, the Airbus uses three and the air data computer selects the reading from any two that agree. As none agreed on 447, it shifted control from fully automatic mode to alternate mode. The latter is about the same as the amount of computer control on the 777. The pilots then have a well-learned backup procedure to maintain airspeed and attitude control.
Director’s Viewpoint Challenge of New Aircraft W hen Air France flight posite material and an extensive 447 plunged into the array of electronic and computer Atlantic more than schemes. The new Airbus 350 and a month ago, I began to won- the Boeing Dreamliner are nearly der again about the safety of all-composite aircraft, the latter these new airliners that have 80 percent by volume, by weight composite materials replacing 50 percent. The problem facing metal for many key structural us with Flight 447 is the absolute elements and are heavily reliant Nick Sergi, need to answer why and how it on computer-controlled flight Director of Content went down. and navigation systems. My At this point anything sug- mind went back to November 2001 and the gested is speculative until the black boxes Airbus that lost its tail on departure from are recovered. This will probably not hap- JFK and crashed in Queens, so close to 9/11 pen. So it becomes necessary to hypoth- that many initially thought it was a terrorist esize. From what I have read, theories act. Turns out the pilots overcontrolled the include: pilot error in flying into a severe aircraft in wake turbulence causing the rud- thunderstorm (this is already being men- der to snap off. Frankly, that was a first for tioned by Air France management indicat- me, and I am fairly sure for American who ing that other flights managed to change trained the pilots to react as they did. radar settings and were able to fly around The Airbus rudder is attached to the the storm); the pitot tubes iced up depriv- empennage by composite material. The ing the crew of vital airspeed information; more composite the manufacturer can use, in reaction to the turbulence and unreliable the more weight that is saved. This is good airspeed information the crew over sped because you can replace that weight with the aircraft causing it to break up; does passengers and fuel. More efficient engines lightning have a harmful effect on com- add to the plane’s capability to carry far- posite materials; and finally do composite ther, faster, and more effectively; however, materials degrade more easily and faster the issue is, at what cost to safety. Please, than aluminum. I am not saying nor implying that aircraft
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