Air France Flight 447: ‘Damn It, We’re Going to Crash’

Gripping, heartbreaking reporting by Nick Ross and Neil Tweedie for The Telegraph:

As forward thrust was lost, downward momentum was gathering. Instead of the wings slicing neatly through the air, their increasing angle of attack meant they were in effect damming it. In the next 40 seconds AF447 fell 3,000 feet, losing more and more speed as the angle of attack increased to 40 degrees. The wings were now like bulldozer blades against the sky. Bonin failed to grasp this fact, and though angle of attack readings are sent to onboard computers, there are no displays in modern jets to convey this critical information to the crews. One of the provisional recommendations of the BEA inquiry has been to challenge this absence.

User-interface design is, in some cases, life or death.

Sunday, 29 April 2012