Serious Incident On Air France Boeing 777 Prompts Inquiry

Credit: Rob Finlayson

LYON—An Air France-operated Boeing 777-300ER was involved in a serious incident April 5 when the crew experienced problems with the flight controls on final approach to Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG).

French air accident bureau BEA has opened a safety investigation into “instability of flight controls on final, go-around, hard controls, flight path oscillations.” Data from the cockpit voice recorder and the flight data recorder were retrieved after the aircraft landed. They are currently being analyzed, BEA says.

The aircraft, registered F-GSQJ and operated as Air France flight 011 from New York JFK, deviated to the left when on approach to runway 26L.

Pilots apparently struggling with the controls can be heard speaking in French on an recording. “Stop! Stop!” a voice utters with an alarm beeping in the background.

The air traffic controller asks the crew to interrupt the approach at 1,500 ft. The crew then reports the aircraft has gone around and is keeping an altitude of 4,000 ft. instead of the assigned 1,500 ft. “That’s fine,” the controller answers. “Maintain 4,000 ft. ... The departure below was aborted. Call back when you can.”

“A problem with flight controls,” a pilot later says. “The aircraft did whatever it liked. We are ready for a final approach with radar vectoring. As we need time to manage the situation, could you give us a very long downwind leg?”

The controller suggested using runway 26L but the crew expressed a preference for runway 27R. The controller accommodated the pilots’ requests and the aircraft landed without further apparent problem.

Thierry Dubois

Thierry Dubois has specialized in aerospace journalism since 1997. An engineer in fluid dynamics from Toulouse-based Enseeiht, he covers the French commercial aviation, defense and space industries. His expertise extends to all things technology in Europe. Thierry is also the editor-in-chief of Aviation Week’s ShowNews.