‘An Accident Like This Could Happen Again’
Spiegel has the summary.
One alarm after another lit up the cockpit monitors. One after another, the autopilot, the automatic engine control system, and the flight computers shut themselves off. “It was like the plane was having a stroke,” …
The final minutes of flight AF 447 had begun. Four minutes after the airspeed indicator failed, the plane plunged into the ocean.
Investigators have finally pieced together sufficient evidence to unravel what happened during the last four minutes of Air France Flight 447, the ill fated flight from Rio to Paris. The key culprit: Pitot tube malfunction. All three airspeed indicators gave different readings and once that occurred, the flight computer decided to call it quits.
Flying through a thunderstorm is always a bad idea but there was apparently little latitude to divert based on fuel. Like many accidents, it involved a chain of events. They suspected this could possilby happen. And it did.