Air France Pilots Miss Volcano

Air France Pilots Narrowly Avoid Flying Plane With 37 Passengers Into Active Volcano

Air France pilots managed to evade what could have been a catastrophic tragedy in early May.

The New York Daily News reports that an Air France Boeing 777 had a close call on May 2 when bad weather conditions forced the plane to go off course. That plane was carrying 37 passengers towards 13,000-foot Mount Cameroon, France’s BEA air traffic investigation agency reported.

Flight 953 had left from Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, and headed to the city of Douala after a near-miss of the Cameroon volcano. Emergency alarms rang out in the cockpit, and Air France pilots pulled the plane higher in altitude. The aircraft climbed 4,000 feet higher in an effort to avoid crashing and killing everyone.

“Pilots receive regular training in this type of manoeuvre,” the airline said in a statement.

CNN further reported that the plane ascended from 9,000-feet to 13,000-feet when pilots heard the emergency alarm. Moreover, it’s been discovered that passengers about Flight 953 weren’t even aware that Air France pilots were trying not to crash into Mount Cameroon volcano.

There were three pilots, 10 crew members, and 23 people passengers aboard the plane, Air France reports. The BEA reports that 37 people total were on the commercial airliner.

After the scary incident, Air France said its crew will get more training for “managerial and medical support.”

French investigators are calling the close call of hitting the active volcano as a “serious incident.”

The airline’s full statement was released on its website.

“Air France confirms that the crew of flight AF 953 on 2 May 2015 carried out a procedure in line with the company’s and manufacturer’s procedure manual in response to an alarm generated by the aircraft.

The Boeing 777-200 F-GSPG was flying at cruising altitude between Malabo and Douala in stormy conditions. The route they took to avoid the storm took their trajectory close to Mount Cameroon.

This proximity was detected by the EGPWS system (enhanced ground proximity warning system, that gives more detailed information than the GPWS). This system generated an alarm in the cockpit to which the pilots responded immediately by applying the appropriate procedure. Pilots receive regular training in this type of manœuvre.

The flight continued on to Douala without any further incidents.

Pending the results of the internal investigation, several precautionary measures have been implemented by the company:
– Additional information transmitted to the crew on the specifics of the land around Douala
– The crew of this flight receives pedagogical, managerial and medical support.

Air France’s priority is to ensure the highest safety standards in all circumstances.

Air France has always chosen the best equipment for flight safety and places great importance on the monitoring of its crews.”

Air France pilots successfully landed the aircraft safely in Douala. Mount Cameroon is said to be the tallest peak in the country — and fourth highest in Africa. Cameroon is part of a family of volcanoes running through the country and into the Atlantic Ocean.

[Photo by Pascal Le Segretain / Getty Images]