French aircraft accident investigators have opened a probe into what has been described as a ‘serious incident’ involving an Air France operated Boeing 777-300 passenger plane that allegedly stopped reacting to the commands of the two pilots as it came into land at Paris Charles de Gaulle airport on Tuesday.
The Bureau d’Enquetes et d’Analyses or BEA as it is more often known said on its official Twitter account that a safety investigation was now underway due to the ‘instability of flight controls’ of the 17-year-old aircraft.
The BEA will also be looking at the ‘hard controls’ and ‘flight path oscillations’ that prompted a go-around at Paris’ main airport yesterday morning.
Air France flight AF11 from New York JFK landed safely on its second attempt after performing a go-around when the aircraft seemingly stopped responding to the commands of the pilots and started to ‘significantly veer left’ on its initial final approach.
One of the pilots can be heard shouting “Stop! Stop!” in a recording between the flight and air traffic control that has been publicly released. The pilot, who sounds distressed in the audio recording, goes on to shout “Stop it!” as various flight control alarms ring in the background.
According to the Aviation Herald, air traffic controllers instructed the crew to discontinue the approach as the plane reached 1,500 feet but the pilots didn’t actually manage to disconnect the autopilot until 1,200 feet and the go-around was only initiated when the aircraft was a mere 1,150 feet above the ground.
By this point, the aircraft had “veered to the left off the localizer” and the pilots told air traffic control that the plane was not following commands.
“The airplane is pretty much going nuts,” one of the pilots tells the controller.
After abandoning the first landing attempt, the pilots managed to perform a successful go around and landed without incident on the second try.
In a statement, a spokesperson for Air France said the pilots of flight AF11 “aborted their landing sequence and performed a go-around due to a technical incident during the approach.”
“The crew mastered the situation and landed the aircraft normally after a second approach. Air France understands and regrets the discomfort felt by customers,” a statement from the airline continued.
The airline added that the go-around procedure is used by all airlines “to guarantee the safety of flights and passengers, which is an absolute necessity for Air France.”
Aircraft manufacturer Boeing has so far declined to comment on the incident.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.