At Popular Mechanics, they have published the transcript of the flight recorders recovered from two miles beneath the sea from Air France flight 447, which inexplicably disappeared over the mid Atlantic during bad weather. What they reveal is incredible.
Quotes from the article:
Another of the pitot tubes begins to function once more. The cockpit's avionics are now all functioning normally. The flight crew has all the information that they need to fly safely, and all the systems are fully functional. The problems that occur from this point forward are entirely due to human error.
The plane now reaches its maximum altitude. With engines at full power, the nose pitched upward at an angle of 18 degrees, it moves horizontally for an instant and then begins to sink back toward the ocean.
02:11:21 (Robert) On a pourtant les moteurs! Qu'est-ce qui se passe bordel? Je ne comprends pas ce que se passe.
We still have the engines! What the hell is happening? I don't understand what's happening.
A minute and a half after the crisis began, the captain returns to the cockpit. The stall warning continues to blare.
02:11:43 (Captain) Eh… Qu'est-ce que vous foutez?
What the hell are you doing?
02:11:45 (Bonin) On perd le contrôle de l'avion, là!
We've lost control of the plane!
02:11:47 (Robert) On a totalement perdu le contrôle de l'avion... On comprend rien... On a tout tenté...
We've totally lost control of the plane. We don't understand at all... We've tried everything.
Note that in a minute and a half, they have gone from what seems like perfectly normal flight to complete confusion and
chaos. Talk about the need to be on your toes when you are a pilot!
It seems that a major problem here was a failure to communicate between the pilots, and the co pilot who clearly had no idea what was happening was allowed to maintain control or partial control during the entire descent. Nothing at all wrong with the plane, other than too much automation. It is just hard to comprehend how quickly things went so wrong, and how little time the pilots had to figure it out.