By Glenn Pew, Contributing Editor, Video Editor
A book titled "Erreurs de Pilotage" (Pilot Error) by French flight instructor Jean-Pierre Otelli provides a transcript of the last two minutes captured by Air France Flight 447's cockpit voice recorder as the jet crashed at night into the ocean off Brazil in June, 2009, killing all 228 aboard. The BEA says disclosure of the transcript is a violation of European regulations and is also ethically improper. "Any attempt at interpretation at this stage is partial," the BEA said as part of a statement that also warned that the disclosure could be "harmful to all concerned." Air France has called the newly published information "unverifiable" and says it "impairs the memory of the crew and passengers who lost their lives." At this time, the information is widely available from numerous sources.
As problems unfolded for Flight 447, Captain Marc Dubois was not in the cockpit. The two pilots who were on the flight deck appeared anxious for his return. That information has been available for some time. Britain's Telegraph UK has now published content from "Pilot Error." According to the newspaper, author Otelli writes that upon the captain's return to the cockpit, the cockpit crew responded to his inquiry by saying, "What's happening? I don't know. I don't know what's happening." One of the men at the controls then says "I've got a problem. I don't have vertical speed. I don't have any indication," and the captain responds, "I don't know, but right now we're descending." As the airplane fell, a stall alarm sounded multiple times and a computer-generated voice repeated the word "Stall." According to the Los Angeles Times, the stall warning sounded 75 times as the aircraft descended. During the event certain air data indicators available to the crew became unreliable. In the Telegraph's account, the captain ultimately warns "watch out, you're pulling up." The Sydney Morning Herald quotes him saying "No, no, no! ... Don't go up! ... No, no!" One of the copilots then says, "Go down, then!" But it is late in the accident sequence. The other copilot says "Damn it! We're going to crash. It can't be true!" According to Otelli, the final words spoken on the flight deck are recorded seconds before impact. They are those of the pilot who'd been flying as the event began. According to Otelli, the pilot said simply, "But what's happening?" The BEA's final report is due next June.