NOVA Working on Air France 447 Documentary

by Jonathan on June 2, 2010

The PBS science/documentary show NOVA is working on a documentary about the crash of Flight 447. The documentary will air sometime in the fall on PBS.

“The job of our film is to try, by piecing together the known evidence, to come up with some conclusions and a credible explanation of what could have happened,” says executive producer Julian Ware. “But obviously we can only be certain if they find the black boxes.”

One of the questions the film will raise concerns the degree of automation in modern aircraft and pilots’ consequent ability to handle emergency situations. Pilots are encouraged to fly on autopilot and otherwise rely on fly-by-wire systems because it saves fuel. But it means that pilots are “task-underloaded,” Ware says.

“When these automated systems fail, suddenly pilots go from a low-task saturation to an enormous overload task saturation, and they don’t have the flying hours now to deal with the situation,” Ware says. Nor do they necessarily know how to cope with a stall. “It’s no reflection on the pilots,” Ware says; it’s just that practicing recovery from a stall is not something pilots can train on in commercial flight simulators, which cannot reproduce stalls because of the extreme forces involved.

NOVA is the highest rated science series on television and the most watched documentary series on public television. It is also one of television’s most acclaimed series, having won every major television award, most of them many times over.

On May 30, the BBC aired a documentary on flight 447 titled Lost: The Mystery of Flight 447.

Source: Inside Nova Blog

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