'Series of errors' caused Air Algerie crash: report

AFP

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Forensics gather evidence at the crash site of the Air Algerie flight AH5017 in Mali's Gossi region on July 29, 2014 Forensics gather evidence at the crash site of the Air Algerie flight AH5017 in Mali's Gossi region on July 29, 2014

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A French judicial probe has found a series of "tragic" errors that caused an Air Algerie plane to crash in the Malian desert last year with 116 people on board, Le Figaro reported Thursday.
Two judges investigating the crash, which included 54 French nationals among the dead, found the "failure to activate the anti-icing system" of the plane's motors was the main cause of the crash, the French daily reported on its website.
The French civil aviation authority BEA in April said the McDonnell Douglas 83 jet ran into trouble after the crew did not activate the system, causing the failure of certain sensors.
But the judicial probe also found several other factors contributed to the crash of Flight AH5017 in Mali, just half an hour into its journey from Burkina Faso's capital Ouagadougou to Algiers.
The situation would have been compounded when the pilot attempted to regain altitude by pulling back on the joystick, instead of pushing it forward, Le Figaro added.
The flight simulator system used to train the crew was also not exactly the same as the actual plane, while the pilots were not experienced at flying in Africa's specific meteorological conditions, the newspaper added, citing the judicial probe.
Bertrand Courtois, lawyer for 52 of the victims' families, said the evidence was "overwhelming" against Air Algerie and Spanish carrier Swiftair which was operating the flight on its behalf.
"There were a series of errors, blunders and incompetences which, in the end, cost dearly," said Sandrine Tricot, head of the French victims association.
"We were a bit stunned," she added, recalling the reaction of the victims' families when they were given details of the inquiry on Tuesday.
Bereaved relatives also want to know why there wasn't a specialised team on the ground at Ouagadougou who knew how to deal with McDonnell Douglas planes, she added.
Another issue was that neither Spanish pilot had mastered French, the language which the air traffic controllers were speaking.
A source close to the inquiry said the judges were still awaiting the results of an Algerian commission probe, along with details on the manufacture of the plane and of the pilots' training.

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