"You analyze, you see that there is a loss of speed reading, you wait calmly until the pitots thaw. The pitots come back and after 40 seconds, everything is forgotten," he said.
While it sounds puzzling in hindsight that the pilots didn't respond to the stall warnings, it's understandable that they were confused given the conditions in the cockpit, said John Goglia, an aviation safety expert and former U.S. National Transportation Safety Board member.
"It was like a giant pinball machine in there," Goglia said. "You have lights and whistles going off all over the place. Which one do you believe? They have no reference to the sky because it's night and stormy. At the very least, they didn't know what to rely on."
He said other pilots in the same situation might have done the same thing as those on Flight 447, adding, "This accident is not the problem of this crew alone."
Pilot Gerard Arnoux said, "A normal pilot on a normal airliner follows" the signals on the flight director system, which tells them to go left, right, up or down.
William Voss, president of the Flight Safety Foundation in Alexandria, Virginia, said the pilots were unable to look past the conflicting information and understand what the aircraft was actually doing.
"Pilots a generation ago would have done that and understand what was going on, but (the AF447 pilots) were so conditioned to rely on the automation that they were unable to do this," he said.
"This is a problem not just limited to Air France or Airbus," Voss said. "It's a problem we're seeing around the world because pilots are being conditioned to treat automated processed data as truth, and not compare it with the raw information that lies underneath."
The report could have legal implications: A separate French judicial investigation is still underway, and Air France and Airbus have been handed preliminary manslaughter charges.
Airbus, the manufacturer of the A330 plane, said in a statement that it is working to improve the pitot tubes and making other efforts to avoid future such accidents.
Air France stressed the equipment troubles and insisted the pilots "acted in line with the information provided by the cockpit instruments and systems. .... The reading of the various data did not enable them to apply the appropriate action." It didn't address the training issue.
The final report included a study of the plane's black box flight recorders, uncovered in a costly and extraordinarily complex search in the ocean depths.
Robert Soulas, who lost his daughter and son-in-law in the crash, asked, "Why did they waffle for 13 years before ordering the pitots changed?" He said the crash was a "chain of responsibilities" and could not be blamed on a single pilot.
Lais Seba, the mother of 31-year-old victim Luciana Clarkson Seba, said, "It's going to be forever difficult" for survivors to deal with the loss of their loved ones.
"We are surviving," she said. "We live one day at a time, with lots of pain, and always missing her."
Catherine Gaschka in Le Bourget, Slobodan Lekic in Brussels, Jenny Barchfield in Rio de Janeiro, and Joan Lowy in Washington contributed to this report.
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