Air France Pilots Not Happy with European Pitot Tubes

From News 24

Pilots demand US equipment
Paris - The top pilots’ union at Air France demanded on Wednesday that European airspeed monitors be replaced by US-made models across the airline’s fleet after a new malfunction was reported this month.

An Airbus 320 equipped with new speed probes made by European electronics giant Thales was flying from Rome to Paris on July 13 when the sensors, known as pitot tubes, broke down, Air France said late on Tuesday.

The pilots’ union demanded the Thales monitors be replaced by those made by US-based Goodrich, which provides pitot tubes to 70% of the world’s aircraft.

Air France decided on June 12 to upgrade all pitot probes after pilots raised the alarm following the crash of Flight 447 in the Atlantic with 228 people on board, the airline’s worst disaster in its 75-year history.

The union said the Goodrich models’ record showed it had been problem-free.

“We are asking that the fleet be modified with sensors that have not been the object of any complaint,” said union spokesperson Erick Derivry.

The union “wants the entire fleet to be equipped with Goodrich models that would replace the Thales sensors,” he told AFP.

Air France said the malfunction of the probes on the Rome to Paris flight “lasted only a few seconds” and did not jeopardise the safety of the passengers.

But French air safety officials are investigating the incident.

French investigators have said that the faulty speed monitors were a factor but not the cause of the June 1 crash of the Airbus that was flying through heavy turbulence on a flight from Rio to Paris.

Speculation has focused on the speed sensors, which fed inconsistent readings to the cockpit just before the plane went down.

The pilots’ union spokesperson said that the latest problem onboard an Airbus jetliner showed there was a “body of elements showing that this incident was similar to other incidents and to the accident involving Flight 447.”

Replacing the pitot tubes with the new Thales models “will not bring about the hoped-for improvements,” said Derivry.

Another pilots’ union earlier this month accused French and European air safety bodies of ignoring warnings about the faulty speed probes such as variations in airspeed data in severe weather conditions.

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