Airbus pitot system failures spread to A-320 fleet

Posted on 30. Jul, 2009 by in Featured

I found this article on the back pages of ATW; it details airspeed problems on Air France Flight 1905. The problems were again associated with the pitot system of an Airbus. However there was a very significant data point: it was a 320 not a 330/340 series aircraft.

Air France confirmed a Le Figaro report that one of its A320s flying from Rome Fiumicino to Paris Charles de Gaulle on July 13 had a “very brief six-second anomaly” in its airspeed data display that was “probably due to icing at high altitude.” The aircraft was fitted with the new Thales BA probes, AF noted, adding that the crew applied the necessary procedures and the aircraft maintained its flight path with no change. The incident was reported and is being examined closely by manufacturers and authorities, AF said. Le Figaro cited an internal crew report on flight AF1905 that indicated “brutal loss of speed indications,” followed by the disappearance of information measuring wind force and other factors.

This to me makes it evident the problem is no longer limited to the A 330/340 fly-by-wire system. Two last items of note: I find it curious that the pilot report adds the descriptor of “brutal” to the loss of airspeed and that Airbus added the statement that the aircraft maintained flight path with no change. An airspeed failure is just that a failure, it is binary, it either does or does not work. An aircraft should always maintain flight path with no changes with an airspeed failure, especially a triple redundant system. Perhaps it was a translation issue. However, I keep coming back to the Qantas Flight 72 incident (loss of control).

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