To your question:
"If if any of this is true, did AirFrance (and perhaps others) make fundamental improvements to their hiring and/or training after this accident?"
As regards the Training aspect, here is the Foreword to the ICAO Doc 10011 -
"MANUAL ON AEROPLANE UPSET PREVENTION AND RECOVERY TRAINING". This was published in 2014, after a landmark study by all major players, and is a direct result of 447 and other such accidents. Implicit, is recognition that there was a gap to be filled, but not just for the 2 pilots, or a particular airline.
Between 2001 and 2011, aeroplane accidents resulting from a loss of control in flight (LOC-I) event were the leading cause of fatalities in commercial aviation. LOC-I accidents often have catastrophic results with very few, if any, survivors.
Following a conference in June 2009 on aeroplane upsets and loss of control in flight, the Royal Aeronautical Society (RAeS) initiated a study to investigate the LOC-I phenomena and make recommendations on mitigating strategies, notably with respect to potential improvements to international civil aviation standards and guidance material. This work was undertaken by the RAeS International Committee on Aviation Training in Extended Envelopes (ICATEE). ICAO supported this initiative.
In 2011, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) of the United States of America commissioned an aviation rulemaking committee (ARC) to develop effective upset prevention and recovery training methodologies. In 2012, ICAO, the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and the FAA decided to combine efforts to identify and establish an acceptable approach to reduce such occurrences. ICAO sponsored seven meetings in 2012 during which Civil Aviation Authorities (CAAs), the FAA ARC and subject matter experts were encouraged to participate in focused discussions. Also, as several initiatives were underway simultaneously that sought to reduce the number of LOC-I events, ICAO brought many of the groups involved with these efforts into the ensuing discussions under what became known as the loss of control avoidance and recovery training (LOCART) initiative.
Reducing the number of LOC-I accidents is an ICAO priority, and ICAO has developed harmonized training requirements for flight crews that address and mitigate LOC-I events. Supported by ICATEE and the FAA ARC, ICAO has introduced improvements to existing Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs) and corresponding guidance material. Both on-aeroplane training at the commercial pilot and multi-crew pilot level and training in a flight simulation training device at the airline transport pilot and type rating level are now promulgated in Annexes 1 — Personnel Licensing and 6 — Operation of Aircraft, Part I — International Commercial Air Transport — Aeroplanes, as well as in the Procedures for Air Navigation Services – Training (PANS-TRG, Doc 9868,), with an applicability date of 13 November 2014. This manual provides guidance to support these new provisions and is only applicable to the training of aeroplane pilots.
The content of the manual was developed over a period of three years with input from many groups of experts from aircraft and flight simulator manufacturers, pilot representative organizations, airlines, training organizations, accident investigation bureaus, human performance specialists, etc., and was thereafter submitted for an extensive peer review to collect and take into account comments from the expert community. It is based upon the latest forms of technology available at the time of its publication. As such, it will be subject to a revision process that will be governed in large part by changing dynamics within the industry. Comments on this manual, particularly with respect to its application, usefulness and scope of coverage, would be appreciated. These will be taken into consideration in the preparation of subsequent editions. Comments concerning the manual should be addressed to:
The Secretary General
International Civil Aviation Organization
999 University Street,
Québec H3C 5H7
I hope this brings a better perspective.