The AF358 Crash Cause
September 16, 2005 - Report: Pilot Error Cause Of Toronto Crash

PARIS, France  -- Air France said it would not confirm nor deny a newspaper report Thursday that said the crash of a jet as it landed in Toronto last month could have been caused by pilot error.

Le Figaro newspaper said analysis of one of the plane's flight recorders showed that 12 seconds elapsed between the moment the plane touched down and when pilots applied the reverse thrusters, which are used to

 assist braking.

The newspaper did not say how it obtained the information.

Air France Flight 358 from Paris landed at Lester B. Pearson International Airport during heavy thunderstorms on August 2, skidding off the runway for about 200 meters (yards) before slamming into a ravine and catching fire. None of the 309 passengers and crew members died.

Air France spokeswoman Marina Tymen said the company had no comment on the newspaper report while the investigation into crash was continuing. She said the black boxes were still in the possession of Canadian authorities.

"We can neither confirm nor deny it," she said. "We don't comment on newspaper reports whatever they are."

The Figaro report said experts found the 12-second delay to be "excessive." It said that the black box recordings were expected to be made public on October 4.

Christian Plouffe, a spokesman for the Transportation Safety Board of Canada, said they could not comment on the Figaro report and that the chief investigator, Real Levasseur, would now focus his investigation on Paris before issuing his report.

"The investigator in charge is now on his way to Paris. He's going to do some analysis and some interviews and I believe he should be back next week," said Plouffe.

Levasseur had said several days after the crash that the aircraft landed farther down the runway than it should have, though he had yet to determine whether the long landing contributed to the crash.

He said the Airbus 340 appeared to have landed 1,200 meters (4,000 feet) down the 2,700-meter (9,000-foot) long runway.

see also this link and this link


Analysis   The final report of the accident will NOT point out one single responsibility for this accident. 
The media and public however, will.

Indecision and Changing one's Mind

The airplane landed 1200m down the runway.

It took the plane a further 12 seconds to start slowing down (ie 700m), which might include the 4 seconds to get the nose-gear on the ground, 4 seconds hesitating or arguing and another 4 seconds (perhaps) for thrust-reversers to actually start having a deceleratory effect on the speed of the plane.

The Le Figaro source assumes that these 4 seconds were due to this hesitation between the pilot and the co-pilot; although both of them deny it, the CVR should tell the story.

The report does not say that human error is the major cause of the accident, it just adds it to a series of factors (wet runway, false indication of ATC reported wind velocity due to an equipment hit by thunder, wind gusts, lack of visibility, etc). It would seem to be a re-cast replay of the QF1 overrun at Bangkok..... where the captain's decision to direct the copilot to go round was then ineptly and injudiciously overridden after touch-down by the captain himself, once he'd assumed control.
"The auto-brake system was disarmed automatically because the number 1
thrust lever was left advanced for more than
three seconds, with the main wheels on
the ground. The crew did not notice that
the brakes had been disarmed."

QF1 Bangkok link

Apparently, the Crew of AF358 "lost" 12 seconds in deciding if they should "go-around" (co-pilot wish) or continue the landing (Captain's final decision).

Can anybody say this is the cause of the crash ?

The Weather conditions reported to the crew right before landing were wrong.
The wind speed and windshear detectors were found to be out of service because of the thunderstorm.
ATC reported "calm wind 11 knots, 3/4 face (i.e. headwind)." according to "le Figaro"
However the FDR reveals that it was actually a "cross wind of 23 knots" ...
How did this affect the pilot's decision to land and/or to go-around or not ?

The gully/ravine did not contribute directly to the accident itself, but did contribute to the loss of the aircraft.

The investigation says also that the plane was evacuated in 75 seconds.
The Crew opened only 4 of the 8 doors, the 4 others being inoperative because of the fire. 3 escape slides out of 4 deployed correctly but 2 of them burst just a few seconds afterwards because of debris/pieces of wood next to the plane.

The Captain of flight AF358 will never fly again.
The Co-Pilot, a former AF Flight Attendant, will fly again by the end of this month.

from this link
"Le Figaro revealed Thursday that twelve long seconds  passed between the touch-down of the main-gear and the introduction of the reverse-thrust  when the Air France A340 Airbus left the runway on August 2 in Toronto. "These twelve seconds, a time which the investigators consider excessive, was derived from one of the black boxes analyzed by the Canadian investigators with the assistance of the French BEA and Airbus",  the daily newspaper reports but without quoting its sources. "At the beginning, only the  wheel-brakes were utilized, these being less effective on a contaminated runway. At their speed of 120 knots (220 km/h), at least 700 meters were covered without maximum braking ", specifies Le Figaro. "Another contributory factor, the conditions communicated by the control-tower gave a moderate headwind component of 11 knots whereas the black box of the Airbus indicates 23 knots of cross through to the touch-down", adds the newspaper. According to Le Figaro, "it is probable that the copilot, in control for this landing, and the commander, then in charge of the radio comms and system management, had a disagreement". The newspaper announces that the publication of the recordings of the CVR (Cockpit Voice Recorder) is envisaged on October 4, and "will show if that indeed had been the case". The Air France Airbus left the runway end at a speed of some 150 km/h, to finally finish its trip in a ditch 200 m further on, before catching fire. The evacuation proceeded very quickly and none of the 309 passengers and members crew lost their lives in the accident."