The Daily Parker

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French newspaper suggests pilot error in Air France 447 crash

Le Figaro is reporting that the French accident-investigation authority (BEA, the French equivalent of the NTSB) reviewed the flight data recorder from AF447 over the weekend. Airbus Industrie, the airplane's manufacturer, this morning reported to its customers that they do not anticipate a finding that the airplane was at fault, an elliptical way of saying it's pilot error. The BEA is livid that Le Figaro leaked the story:

“Sensationalist publication of non-validated information, whilst the analysis of the data from the flight recorders has only just started, is a violation of the respect due to the passengers and the crew members that died and disturbs the families of the victims, who have already suffered as a result of many hyped-up stories,” the BEA said in a statement responding to that story.

Le Figaro, though almost completely consumed for the last three days with Dominique Strauss-Kahn, still seems to have come to a reasonable conclusion based on leaked information from the BEA:

Selon les sources interrogées par Le Figaro, de nouveaux éléments sur la responsabilité d'Air France ou de son équipage seront communiquées par le BEA dans la journée de mardi. Le rapport définitif d'enquête du BEA devrait être rédigé durant plusieurs mois mais il est possible que le scénario du drame soit définitivement établi d'ici la fin de semaine. Contactée par Le Figaro, le porte-parole d'Air France s'est refusé à tout commentaire, «tant que le BEA n'aura pas mené à bien l'ensemble des vérifications nécessaires». De son côté, Airbus s'est également refusé à toute confirmation.

Translation: According to Le Figaro's sources, new information about Air France's responsibility or its crew's will be released by the BEA on Tuesday. The final report on the accident won't be released by the BEA for several months, but it is possible that the drama's scenario will be definitively established by the end of this week. Air France has declined to comment; for its part, Airbus has also refused to confirm the information.

The most widely-held hypothesis, advanced by PBS's Nova a couple of months ago, holds that the plane's computer lost airspeed information due to pitot tube icing, but the pilots failed to respond correctly to the problem.

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