The pilots could no longer fly the plane. An Air France Boeing 777 from JFK Airport in New York City on Tuesday had to give up landing at Roissy-Charles-de-Gaulle (Val-d’Oise) after a serious incident.
Flight AF011 was on “final”, the last leg of the approach phase, descending in the runway axis, when the pilots noticed that the aircraft had stopped responding to the controls and was drifting to the left. The aircraft was then at an altitude of 1,200 feet (about 370 m) according to air journaland had to perform a “go around”, an emergency restart.
A document posted online (to listen to below) allows you to hear the exchanges between the pilots and the control tower at the airport at the time of the incident. We mainly hear an alarm and one of the pilots says “stop! stop!”, after which the air traffic controller immediately asked for news and the pilot answered visibly stressed: “I’ll call you back”. Guessing a problem, and, as he will say a few seconds later, seeing on the radar that the plane is going to the left, the air traffic controller orders another plane to stop climbing so as not to interfere. “We’ve gone over the throttle, 4,000 feet, we’re going to service them, we’ll call you back,” adds one of the New York-Paris pilots a few seconds later. The pilot then resumes a less enthusiastic tone, calling “a problem with flight control, the plane did almost everything”.
“The plane surfaced extremely quickly”
Michèle, 75, was in business class on this “brand new plane”. “There was a lot of fog, we saw the track at the last minute,” she says. We were almost on the runway when the plane took off extremely fast.” At that point, “this regular traveler thinks he missed his landing.” But the passengers do not panic. His neighbors, Americans, even go on with their night.
As the pilots circled over Paris for about ten minutes, she continued, the crew was slow to inform passengers of the incident. The captain finally picked up the microphone to justify the setback: “He told us that a plane on the runway had prevented them from landing. When we arrived, we learned nothing more.”
Next Wednesday, the BEA (Bureau for Research and Analysis for Civil Aviation Security) announces in a press release that it is opening “a security investigation”. It shows a “serious incident”, with “flight control instability on final, go-around, hard checks and trajectory oscillations”. The data recovered Tuesday and Wednesday is being “analyzed,” the BEA said.
‘Go-around due to technical incident during approach’
For its part, Air France explained in a press release that the flight crew “interrupted their landing sequence and performed a go-around due to a technical incident during the approach. The crew had mastered the situation and landed normally after a second approach” .
According to this press release, the relaunch is “a normal procedure” and “crews are trained and regularly informed about these procedures used by all airlines to ensure the safety of flights and passengers, which is an absolute necessity. Air France” .