ABC News reports a failure in a pitot tube sensor may be the cause of an AirFrance Rio to Paris flight tragedy. Excerpts from the news include:
An Associated Press investigation at the time found that Airbus had known since at least 2002 about problems with the type of pitots used on the jet that crashed, but failed to replace them until after the crash.
As a storm buffeted the plane, ice disabled the plane's pitot tubes, blocking speed and altitude information. The autopilot disconnected. The crew resumed manual piloting, but with erroneous navigation data. The plane went into an aerodynamic stall, its nose pitched upward and then it plunged into the sea on June 1, 2009.
Air France is accused of not having implemented training in the event of icing of the pitot probes despite the risks. It has since changed its training manuals and simulations. The company said it would demonstrate in court “that it has not committed a criminal fault at the origin of the accident” and plead for acquittal.
If a pilot recognizes that flight condition sensor inputs (Altitude, AOA, etc) are faulty: what prevents the pilot from "dead reckoning" and safely land the aircraft at the nearest airstrip?