The pilots of an Air France jet that crashed into the Atlantic Ocean in 2009 killing all 228 passengers and crew have been faulted in in preliminary findings of an investigation.
The pilots apparently became confused by a series of flight control alarms as the twin-engine Airbus A330 encountered heavy turbulence on the route from Rio de Janeiro to Paris, Bloomberg reports.
German weekly news magazine Der Spiegel reports, meanwhile, that the captain of the doomed Air France flight was not at the controls when the plane ran into trouble.
The magazine quoted an expert who said Captain Marc Dubois, 58, could be heard on the black box recordings rushing into the cockpit when the plane hit bad weather.
It also wrote that:
So far, it's unclear who was controlling the Air France plane in its final minutes. Was it the experienced flight captain, Dubois, or one of his two first officers? Typically, a captain retreats to his cabin to rest a while after takeoff. Indeed, there's corroborative evidence to suggest that the captain was not sitting in the cockpit at the time of the crash: His body was recovered from the Atlantic, whereas those of his two copilots sank to the bottom of the ocean still attached to their seats. This would suggest that Dubois was not wearing a seatbelt.
The Wall Street Journal reported in its Monday edition that the crew of AF447 struggled to make sense of the different warning messages and chimes while also monitoring key indicators of the plane's trajectory and engine power. It said the pilots failed to follow standard procedures as they tried to figure out what was happening.
At 35,000 feet, pilots had to deal with unexpectedly heavy icing, which is renowned for making airspeed indicators and other external sensors unreliable, Bloomberg reports.
The Journal said Airbus had registered 32 instances of the same problem on similar aircraft between 2003 and 2009.
Investigators are expected to reveal their findings from the aircraft's two flight recorders, recovered at the beginning of May using a robot submarine, on Friday.