The crash of Air Algerie MD-83 in Mali last July, an accident that claimed 116 lives, was triggered by the icing of pressure probes after pilots failed to turn on anti-icing systems, investigators said.
When the probes iced up in difficult weather conditions, the aircraft’s autopilot thought the engine power was excessive and slowed thrust below that required to maintain cruise height, triggering the events that caused the plane to lose control, the French accident investigator BEA said on its website. A final report will come by year-end, it said.
“If the engine anti-ice protection system is activated, these pressure sensors are heated by hot air,” BEA said in its interim report. “Analysis of the available data indicates that the crew likely did not activate the system during climb and cruise.”
BEA shared the findings with the European Aviation Safety Agency and through EASA with U.S. regulatory authorities and expects they will form the basis for future publication of corrective measures to help crews identify similar situations and respond, the organization said.
Two similar events occurred, in June 2002 and in June 2014, BEA said, though there were no serious consequences after the crew detected the problem and responded appropriately. BEA will ask regulators to issue new advice to pilots.
The plane was carrying 110 passengers and six crew. The plane disintegrated upon hitting the ground.
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