EU regulators decree pitot tube replacement
European aviation-safety regulators have decided Goodrich pitot tubes must replace Thales-made pitot tubes on Airbus planes.
Pitot tubes are airspeed-measuring devices, and investigators strongly suspect they were at fault in the recent crash of an Air France-KLM SA jet.
(See the InTech story on the pitot tube, the crash, and the technology: www.isa.org/link/Pitot_0709)
The Wall Street Journal reported, “The European Aviation Safety Agency plans to propose an airworthiness directive mandating all A330 and A340 currently fitted with Thales pitot probes must be fitted with at least two Goodrich probes, allowing a maximum of one Thales to remain fitted to the aircraft.”
The agency described the move as precautionary, based on pitot tube data the agency had analyzed in recent weeks.
The proposal also seeks to ban all uses of an earlier version of Thales speed probes, which is the same model that was on the Air France jet that crashed nearly two months ago. The Air France A330 crashed in the Atlantic en route to Paris from Rio de Janeiro, killing all 228 people aboard. Automated maintenance data sent from the plane indicated serious problems with its speed probes (pitot tubes).
Since Air France Flight 447 disappeared in a high-altitude storm, airlines around the world have stepped up voluntary programs to swap out older-style Thales tubes for the company’s upgraded versions.
Regulators and safety experts, meanwhile, have focused on the reliability of the parts.
EASA’s technical analysis and “information received on the performance of the different types” of probes “indicates the Goodrich probes are more reliable,” said agency representative Daniel Hoeltgen.