From the known weather and flight trajectory data, I think it is fairly obvious what happened. You really don't need any exotic explanations for this
The flight crew made a grave error by not changing course to avoid a massive CB cluster. They apparently flew smack into the middle of what we call In
Texas, a supercell.
There's a very good reason airlines over land in the USA are FORBIDDEN by air traffic control from flying into a supercell. The wind shear forces are
so violent, extreme turbulence is likely inside a supercell. "Extreme" means the crew loses control of the aircraft. That's how badly it's shaking
and gyrating and being tossed about.
Think about the effect of hitting a 100 - 200 mph vertical updraft... when you flip a coin, what happens to the coin? Then, if you hit a downdraft of
similar velocity, it would drive you down like being hit by a giant hammer.
Not to mention possible tornadic rotation, large hail, and enough water to flood and drown out engines.
Let this be a lesson to all airline flight crews... always change course and navigate around supercells and supercell clusters... don't play russian
roulette with the lives of all onboard by arrogance, snobbery, overconfidence, thinking you can "pick your way though it"... don't think that
because you are in a big, state-of-the-art heavy that you are invincible... you are not
All airlines should hold one-on-one meetings with all pilots and ask "what is your opinion about remaining on course at cruising altitude on
autopilot heading into severe weather?" If the pilot says something like "just some turbulence, but these babies are built to take it, no
problem".... O.K., ground that guy until he can be trained on why it is forbidden to fly into a towering CB supercell.
From what I have seen here...
there is no reasonable excuse for the tragedy. Flying into that supercell instead of going around foolishly put the lives of all onboard in lethal
peril when it could have been avoided.
You've got some big time corporate executives on board who don't want to be late getting into Paris. Well, tough cookies, GO AROUND the severe storm
cluster and arrive late or make an alternate landing somewhere else. Lives are at stake.
As passengers, we have to trust that pilots will make decisions with due caution. I've been on many diverted flights in the USA because of severe
weather. No one complained about hours of delay or in a few cases landing in some other city because the pilot simply announced to the cabin "we have
severe weather ahead and it's best we go around it... this will cause a pretty major delay in our schedule but we have to go around this storm."
Unanimous reaction is always "fine, just keep us out of danger".
I sincerely hope airlines initiate some special remedial training for flight crews regarding severe weather. Flying into the heart of a severe storm
is not worth the risk for any reason.
If I were a pilot or flight crew, I would refuse to fly into a storm system like the one that downed Air France 447. I have been ticketed on flights
before that were cancelled altogether because of such storm systems.
I think, from what we know of 447 flight path, the ride being autopilot until the end, and the weather data... this may well have been pilot error.
There should be protocol, if there isn't already, for crew to overrule the pilot and just stand up and say "Sir, we are not continuing on this
heading straight into a CB supercell cluster. We are going around." There should be a way that a crew could relieve the captain of command when and
if such captain endangers the lives of all onboard due to grave error in judgement.
Of course, if any further evidence is found, we could find out there was another contributing factor but you really don't need any. It was a killer
storm they flew right into. Bad move. Insane risk taking. No excuse.