The Black Boxes from which the
official report has been made show a series of anomalies, which has
led a lot of critical people since 1988 to call in question their
- The black boxes have been
physically opened, the magnetic tape has been cut. Normally you put
the black boxes into a reading machine without opening them - the
same way you read a cassette in a video recorder.
- 8 seconds are missing in
the recording, 4 seconds are missing just before the impact. That
means that the DFDR would have stopped accidentally just before the
- The DFDR and the CVR are 4
seconds out of synchronization during the last part of the
- There is no indication of
longitudinal deceleration at the impact. This might be expected in a
collision with a mountain, but in Habsheim the recorders should have
been able to operate until the aircraft disintegrated. Any crash
which could be survived by all but 3 passengers should not have
caused an abrupt stop in the DFDR recording.
Due to these anomalies, and the fact that the
Black Boxes were in the hands of the DGAC, it has always been
supposed, and is finally proven since May 1998, that the Flight Data
Recorder confiscated on July 5 from the DGAC is NOT the one which was
taken from the aircraft after the crash.
The engines of the crashed aircraft have been
examinated by the manufacturer (CFMI/SNECMA) himself instead of
independent experts. An Operational Bulletin (OEB 19/1) about
Engine acceleration deficiency at low
altitude was sent out before the accident, in May 1988
(but Air France didn't pass it to its Airbus A320 pilots) and was
modified in August (OEB 19/2). The engines, too, were modified after
Germain Sengelin, investigating magistrate at
Mulhouse, was amazed that the Black Boxes had been out of control of
justice for 10 days. On Tuesday July 5 1988 at 12.30 pm he ordered the
recorders to be confiscated at Paris. His order ought to have been
executed before 5 pm; in fact, for some reason, it was not executed
before Wednesday July 6 8.00 am: This is another anomaly.
Norbert Jacquet, an Air France pilot who spoke
out in Asseline's support, was suspended from duty and had his licence
withdrawn by Air France on the grounds of "mental instability".
Meanwhile he has got five psychiatric certificates which unanimously
state that he is completely sane and does not have any signs of mental
trouble. One understands that co-pilot Pierre Mazière, who has
continued to fly for Air France after the accident, cannot dare to
express himself on the subject.
When the aircraft hit the trees, its wings made
an aisle in the forest - a valuable source of evidence. However the
forest has been razed with precipitation within 3 days after the
accident. The order to cut the trees was given by Mr Mangane and Mr
Villeneuve from the Accident Investigation Bureau. While going down,
the aircraft cut the trees at a height of 11 m (36 ft) on the left and
8.5 m (28 ft) on the right side. This difference might indicate that
the engines were not running at the same speed. That has not been
taken into account in the final report.
Consider the following argument: If anything was
OK with the aircraft, why did the DGAC withhold the tapes until the
police confiscated them? Why are there several seconds missing in the
recordings, just before the impact? Why have the Black Boxes been
substituted? The people interested in the success of the aircraft
would be stupid if they aroused unnecessarily suspicion and rumours.
Why should someone who has a clear conscience
behave in a suspicious way? That's why I think it's difficult to
believe that the investigation was in order.
5 persons have been accused for injury and
manslaughter by the Court of Colmar/France:
- Captain Michel Asseline
- First Officer Pierre Mazière
- the president of the
- a Security Officer of Air
- a Director of Flight
Operation of Air France
In 1996, the court refused a request of
Asseline's defense for annulment of the flight-data recordings. On
March 14, 1997, the Court of Colmar pronounced its judgment under the
presidency of judge Christian Riss: Asseline gets 6 months of
imprisonment plus 12 suspended on probation. The other 4 accused all
get prison sentences suspended on probation. So the Court gives the
major responsibility to Captain Asseline. Asseline announced he would
make appeal, if necessary he will appeal to the European Court of
Human Rights. Mazière said he accepted the judgment. Anyway Mazière
never comments the accident - he is still flying for Air France.
The appeal process startet in January 1998,
again at the Appeals Court of Colmar, under the presidency of judge
Claudine Krieger-Bour. On April 9, 1998, the Court declared Asseline
guilty of manslaughter and bodily harm, again on the basis of the
doubtful recordings, and increased the original sentence to 10 months
of imprisonment plus 10 months on probation.
Asseline walked free from the court and said he
would appeal to France's Supreme Court, the Cour de Cassation. The
arrest will become valid in about one year, and according to French
law, Asseline must declare himself prisoner before his appeal is
examined by the Court.
So the French Justice fails to
confiscate in due time pieces of evidence, which could possibly prove
the innocence of an accused, and nevertheless uses these pieces
against him after 8 years.