Inquiry blames crew failures for 2014 plane crash in Mali

(Wikipedia / Milad A380 / CC BY 3.0)

LE BOURGET, France (AP) – A series of crew failures likely caused the 2014 Air Algerie crash in Mali, air accident investigators said Friday, although they said they were not assigning responsibility for the disaster that killed 116 people.

France’s Analysis and Investigations Bureau (BEA) says the McDonnell Douglas MD-83 went down on July 24, 2014, near the rural town of Gossi after problems with its sensors that were probably caused by obstruction by ice crystals.

The bureau’s report says the plane’s crew failed to activate the aircraft’s anti-icing mechanism even though they were flying in an area where the presence of ice crystals was likely. They also reacted late when the plane started to slow and then stall. The crew never managed to recover from the stall, sending the aircraft plummeting.

BEA Director Remy Jouty told journalists at his office in Le Bourget that catastrophic damage to the plane’s cockpit voice recorder meant it wasn’t clear why the pilots acted the way they did.

“We were not able to analyze the reasons for the crew’s lack of reaction, so it is certainly not accurate to say that this is a question of the pilots’ responsibility,” he said. “We can ask a question, ‘Why didn’t they react?’ We don’t have answers to that, but we aren’t talking here about responsibilities.”

The report’s recommendations included studying a permanent anti-icing system for the plane’s sensors, modifying the criteria by which those systems kick in and giving more training to crews about how to deal with stalls on MD-80-type aircraft.

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