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What I remember reading of the Air France flight was that both people flying understood perfectly well the situation, and had plenty of time to get out of it, but one panicked and tried to pull up even though that was exactly the wrong thing to do. The other problem was that no one else realised that one of them was trying to pull up and the plane averaged the actions of the two sticks (pull up and dive) causing effectively zero net action. (Other planes feedback each stick's action to the other so the other person would soon have realised what was going on.) They had so long to fix the problem that the captain (who had been sleeping) had time to wake up and enter the cockpit, and he finally managed to coax out the information that one of the copilots was trying to pull up, and for them to stop. By that point they were only seconds from the water and it actually was too late.

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