Air France flight AF011 from New York to Paris carrying 192 passengers and crew was around 1,000ft from the ground on its final approach to Charles de Gaulle airport when the pilots ran into trouble and had to abort the landing. During the incident, the captain and co-pilot can be heard battling with the Boeing 777’s controls while emergency alarms sound in the cockpit recording.
Investigators now say the issue was caused by the two pilots pulling their joysticks in opposite directions at the same time without realising in what they deemed a “serious incident”’, industry jargon meaning it could have led to an accident.
Alerting air traffic control to the crisis on board the transatlantic flight, one pilot said: “The airplane is pretty much going nuts.”
The controller responded: “I’ve seen on the radar, it swayed to the left.”
In a preliminary report released yesterday, France’s BEA air accident investigation agency said the two pilots “simultaneously made inputs on the controls” during a go-around for a second attempt.
The report said: “The captain held the control column in a slightly nose-down position while the co-pilot made several, more pronounced, nose-up inputs.”
A spokesman for Air France said: “Our crew are trained and regularly rehearse procedures that are practised by all airlines.”
The Boeing 777 is equipped with control columns that move in tandem with each other to aid coordination.
Experts say only one pilot is usually expected to be actively flying at a time.