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Andy Leavitt's profile photoSam Garfield's profile photo
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The amazing thing is not that the plane automatically switches between multiple different fly modes by itself, or that the controls average out between two people rendering neither in control, but that not a single of three trained pilots bothered to look at the artificial horizon, airspeed, or altitude while they fell 37,000 feet. Not only that but the plane incessantly repeated the problem all the way down and even with that warning nobody checked any of those instruments.

This is probably the first thing you learn when you play a flight simulator. I think my eight year old self could have diagnosed the problem.
 
To our benefit, we've both spent a lot of time fixing computer problems.

Something that I've learned is to take every alert seriously and question even my most fundamental assumptions about a given environment. I think the lesson here for me is, during an emergency situation, to clearly communicate as much as possible. If, 5 minutes into the situation somebody had said, 'hey, I've been pulling back on this stick for 5 minutes, what do you think about that?' the crash may have been avoided.

The whole thing, while tragic, is a fascinating study in poor interpretation of input and poor management and I think the lessons learned have some real value outside of the cockpit.
 
My brother (who speaks french) offers a better version of what the captain said when he came into the cabin:

When the pilot comes back in it quotes him as saying "What the hell is going on?", it's more like "What the fuck have you done?!"

So the pilot comes in, freaking out, the guy behind the controls says he doesn't know what's happening and is clearly confused and the pilot says "okay, I'm going to sit here behind you and do nothing about it and not look at a single instrument. Let's all stare out the front window until we can see fish out of it."
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