"Pull Up, Pull Up, Pull Up": A Gripping Transcript Of The Final Few Minutes Of The Air France Jet

air france

Photo: ap

A new report from France’s BEA blames pilot error for the 2009 Air France crash. With the report comes more details on the final 3.5 minutes when the plane entered freefall.It is clear that the junior pilots didn’t realise the plane was in an aerodynamic stall, when the correct action is to point the nose downwards, and instead pulled upwards. The captain was taking his routine rest when the trouble began and refused to come help. When he returned to the cockpit it may have been too late.

Reuter’s Tim Hepher presents the transcript in a gripping account (via @pkedrosky):

(Captain) “Get your wings horizontal”

(First co-pilot) “Level your wings”

(Second co-pilot) “That’s what I’m trying to do”.

“What the — how is it we are going down like this?” asked the junior pilot.

“See what you can do with the commands up there, the primaries and so on,” the senior co-pilot said.

“Climb climb climb climb,” ordered the senior co-pilot.

“But I have been pulling back on the stick all the way for a while,” observed the younger pilot.

The captain interjected: “No, no, no, don’t climb.”

Senior co-pilot: “Ok give me control, give me control.”

“Watch out you are pulling up,” prodded the captain.

“Am I?” said the first co-pilot.

“Well you should, we are at 4,000,” said the young pilot.

The computer spoke. “Sink rate. Pull up, pull up, pull up”.

“Go on, the captain urged, “pull”.

“We’re pulling, pulling, pulling, pulling,” said number 3.

The last words that could be made out from the veteran captain were remarkably calm, reverting to cool-headed jargon.

“10 degrees pitch,” he appears to have said.

Less than half a second later, the recording stopped.

Read the complete account of the final minutes here >

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