Air France crash pilots not emergency-trained, says coroner

Arthur Coakley
Image caption Mr Coakley was among five Britons killed in the plane crash in 2009

Pilots at the controls of a jet that plunged into the Atlantic Ocean killing 228 people were not adequately trained for the emergency, a coroner has said.

North Yorkshire coroner Michael Oakley was speaking at the inquest into the deaths of two British passengers in the Air France jet disaster, in 2009.

Arthur Coakley, 61, of Whitby and Neil Warrier, 48, from London, both died.

The crash, during a Brazil-to-France flight, was blamed on technical failure and pilot errors.

Recording a narrative verdict on the men, who both died from multiple injuries, Mr Oakley said there had been a series of "systematic failures".

'Systematic failures'

These included a blockage of the aircraft's pitot tubes, which are used to measure fluid pressures, as well as human error.

"[There was] a lack of comprehension of the aircraft's situation between the pilots during the flight," Mr Oakley said.

"The pilots were not adequately trained to handle the aircraft safely in the particular high-altitude emergency situation that night.

"The air disaster highlights serious public concern of whether pilots are overly dependent on technology and are not retaining the skills required to properly fly complex commercial aircraft."

Speaking after the hearing Mr Coakley's widow, Patricia, said she was still waiting for an apology from Air France.

Mrs Coakley said: "I spoke to Air France's lawyer and he ignored it. That's all we want, an apology. It's four years and four months to the day exactly since it happened.

"The first of the month is really difficult and we always relive the exact time my son phoned and asked which plane he was on."

The official report into the crash by the French aviation authority highlighted faults with the Airbus 330's air-speed sensors which had confused the pilots, but it also said they had made several errors.

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