Here is that topic again.
The short version: Flight crew screwed up. Too low, under surrounding terrain, while not in a stable altitude or speed, and too slow. The aircraft and engines performed beyond design limits, but by the time full throttle was applied, it was too late.
The long version. I will "republish" Crosswind's excellent answer from 21 April 2004. Very interesting:
From United Kingdom, joined Nov 2000, 1379 posts, RR
Posted Wed Apr 21 2004 21:19:54 UTC
+1 and read 147 times:
Some information on the Air France A320 crash, in the hope that people will stop spouting unsupported theories about it!
The Air France A320 that was written off at Habsheim was being operated on a public transport flight by Air France at the time of the crash. The aircraft had been used in flight testing, but had been delivered to Air France several days before the accident, and was involved in a promotional flight when it crashed. The A320 was in service operating revenue flights at the time of the accident, F-CFKC was in fact Air France's 3rd A320.
Most importantly, the fly-by-wire did not "lock up" - and the plane did not "think" it was landing and prevent the application of TOGA power. The accident was classic pilot error, no fault was found with the FBW system...
Some findings of the accident investigation:
• The captain had participated as Air France's technical pilot in developmental test flying on the A320, during which manoeuvres were carried out beyond the normal operational limitations. This could have lead to overconfidence in the systems of the new aircraft.
• The flight had only been briefly prepared, without real consultation between the departments (of Air France) concerned, or with the crew.
• Descent was started 5.5nm from the aerodrome. Throughout the descent, the engines were throttled back to flight idle with the airspeed reducing.
• At 1000ft AGL the rate of descent was still ~600fpm.
• The captain levelled off at a height of ~30ft, engines at flight idle, pitch attitude increasing. He did not have time to stabilise the angle of attack at the maximum value he had selected.
• Full-power was rapidly applied when the angle of attack was 15° and the airspeed 122kt.
• The response of the engines was normal, and in compliance with their certification.
• The accident resulted from a combination of the following;
• Flyover height lower than surrounding obstacles (Flown at 30ft against the planned 100ft)
• Slow speed, reducing to reach maximum angle of attack
• Engines at flight idle
• Late application of go-around power
In summary the crew flew the aircraft onto the wrong side of the drag curve in a critical situation overflying a very small grass strip with trees above the height of the aircraft off the end of the runway, the aircraft was low, slow and at a high angle of attack - there was no residual energy to get them out of trouble. It's a basic lesson in flying, and the A320 was found to have actually exceeded it's certified performance once TOGA power was selected.
The crew had been briefed to overfly the concrerte runway 02/20 at 100ft, but unknown to them the airshow was alligned along grass strip runway 16/34. The crew were unaware of this until descending through 200ft, 24 seconds before the accident, at which time they had to chose to reposition the aircraft to conduct an overflight they had not briefed for over runway 16/34 as the height decayed to 30ft and the airspeed to 122kt...
If you're interested in the subject Macarthur Job's "Air Disaster" series is excellent - the Habsheim A320 accident is covered in depth in Volume 3.
Re-post of my original reply to this thread:
"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots." - John Ringo