The Final Minutes of Flight 447

Investigators are growing closer to solving the mystery of Flight 447: experts now say the plane experienced multiple system failures before going down, painting a chaotic picture inside the cockpit, where the crew likely worked frantically to fix the issues. The first glitch appeared when control was lost in three “pitot tubes” that determine airspeed and maintain lift in the wings. The loss of control in the tubes probably caused autopilot to disengage, which forced pilots to fly the plane by hand – which would have been even harder when air speed was unknown and turbulence was violent. After autopilot switched off, other systems began to fail. Laser gyroscopes that determine the pitch and roll of the plane failed, causing pilots to lose their artificial image of the horizon. Then it was the stabilization system, which took the plane into “alternate flight law”—which probably kept pilots from saving the plane. It’s possible that after that, the flight control system applied so much pressure on the fuselage that the tail ripped off, causing the plane to fall to pieces before it even hit the water.