Air France has denied a Vanity Fair and Daily Mail UK report that two of their three pilots were asleep when AF447 crashed into the Atlantic in 2009 on a flight from Rio De Janero to Paris. Three young Irish doctors were on booard.
Air France stated the report "shows a major misunderstanding and misinterpretation of the events that occurred in the cockpit."
"It is completely inaccurate and defamatory to say that two of the three pilots of flight AF447 were sleeping when they entered a cloud of ice crystals, resulting in the loss of speed information.
As the BEA (accident investigation unit) formally stated in its final report, at the time the speed indications were lost, the two co-pilots were in the cockpit at the controls of the aircraft. In addition, 1 minute and 38 seconds after the beginning of the incident, the flight captain regained the cockpit and joined his two co-pilots."
Jane Deasy (27), from Rathgar in Dublin, Aisling Butler (26), from Roscrea, Co Tipperary, and former "Riverdance" dancer Eithne Walls, (28) from County Down all lost their lives when the flight from Rio de Janeiro to Paris plunged into the ocean just over four hours after leaving Brazil.
The Daily Mail had reported that an inexperienced junior pilot was left in charge as the captain had managed only one hour’s sleep the night before after a night out on the town in Rio with his opera singer girlfriend.
The black box recordings confirm that when the plane stalled inexperienced pilot Pierre-Cedric Bonin, 32, was at the controls.
Instead of lowering the plane’s nose as per stall protocol, he lifted it
By the time captain Marc Dubois, 58, woke up to the emergency and entered the cockpit it was too late. Bonin is heard to scream ‘F*** it, we’re dead’ on the recordings.
The three young Irish doctors were flying home from a holiday when the tragedy struck.
The report says the findings raise terrifying questions about safety aboard civilian passenger jetsme, you do not go on vacation during the main event.”
Americans Michael and Anne Harris were also among the 228 victims who died in the crash.
Previous reports had stated that Dubois was sleeping off a night out in Rio with his girlfriend, an off-duty hostess and opera singer who was on the doomed flight.
He is heard to say on the recordings: “I didn’t sleep enough last night. One hour – it’s not enough.”
The report said: “On the night of May 31, 2009, the pilots of Flight 447 certainly did not serve their passengers well.
“The plane was suffering from a loss of lift – or a ‘stall’ – and its airspeed sensors had malfunctioned.
“But instead of lowering the plane’s nose to deal with the stall, as they should have done according to normal procedures, they raised it.
“Dubois finally entered the cockpit 1 minute and 38 seconds after the pitot tubes malfunctioned, but by that time panic was setting in.
“Robert said: ‘F***, we’re going to crash! It’s not true! But what’s happening?’
“Soon after, either Robert or Bonin are heard to say: ‘F***, we’re dead’ before – 4 hours and 15 minutes into the flight – it crashes into the Atlantic.”
Both Air France and Airbus are facing manslaughter charges, with a judicial investigation led by Paris judges under way.