France’s aviation safety watchdog on Wednesday said it was launching an investigation into an incident at the main Paris airport that saw pilots partially lose control of an Air France plane seeking to land after arriving from New York.
The Bureau of Enquiry and Analysis for Civil Aviation Safety (BEA) has classified the problem over the landing of the Boeing 777 at Charles de Gaulle airport Tuesday morning as a “serious incident”, a term that means it believes there was a serious risk of accident.
In the end, flight AF011 landed safely and none of the passengers or crew were harmed.
On its Twitter account, the BEA said that the flight was hit by “instability to the flight controls” on the final approach, forcing the pilots to perform a “go around” after an initial aborted landing.
“The BEA has opened a safety investigation,” it said.
The classification of the incident as “serious” is due in particular to the fact that it took place “in the approach phase, where there is the most risk,” a source close to the BEA, who asked not to be named, told AFP.
Air France confirmed in a statement to AFP that the crew “interrupted their landing sequence and carried out a go-around during the approach to Charles de Gaulle”.
“The crew landed the aircraft normally after a second approach,” it added.
Extracts of the exchanges between the cockpit and the control tower posted on the internet underlined the seriousness of the incident.
“Stop, stop,” said one of the pilots to his colleague, in a stressed voice.
“I’ll call you back,” he then told the control tower which had contacted him.
“We performed a go-around, there was a flight control problem, the plane was doing all sorts of things,” the pilot told the tower once the situation was back under control.
The BEA said the black boxes containing the flight data and the cockpit conversations had been recovered and are “currently being analysed”.