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Right Intention: Airbus Planes Need Work

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Airbus Planes Need Work

This is not getting enough attention:

At 35 000 feet above the Caribbean, Air Transat flight 961 was heading home to Quebec with 270 passengers and crew. At 3.45pm last Sunday, the pilot noticed something very unusual. His Airbus A310's rudder -- a structure over 8m high -- had fallen off and tumbled into the sea. In the world of aviation, the shock waves have yet to subside....

He and his colleagues also believe that what happened may shed new light on a previous disaster. In November 2001, 265 people died when American Airlines flight 587, an Airbus A300 model which is almost identical to the A310, crashed shortly after take-off from JFK airport in New York. According to the official report into the crash, the immediate cause was the loss of the plane's rudder and tailfin, though this was blamed on an error by the pilots....

The separation of the rudder may have further implications for the cause of the 587 crash. In its report, the NTSB said the tail and rudder failed because they were subjected to stresses "beyond ultimate load", imposed because the co-pilot, Sten Molin, overreacted to minor turbulence and made five violent side-to-side "rudder reversals". The report said the design of the A300 controls was flawed because it allowed this to happen.

However, the NTSB investigation has been criticised by many insiders. Ellen Connors, the NTSB chair, told reporters last January that the report was delayed because of "inappropriate" and "intense" lobbying by Airbus over its contents, adding: "The potential for contaminating the investigation exists." In America, the NTSB staff is small and manufacturers provide many of the staff employed on air-crash investigations into their own products.

Airbus planes falling apart in mid-flight strikes me as a bad thing. One would think this would generate a bit of media attention.

(Instapundit, again)


Blogger Mrs. Davis said...

I'm not nearly so worried about the media as the NTSB. I'm sure they noticed. When they decide it's worth an investigation, the media will be all over it. Until the, the media will do what is in the interest of its allies in Paris.

7:27 PM  
Blogger RD said...

True. But for once I wasn't thinking of a media bias angle, which is admittedly rare for me. It just seems to me that this is a much bigger story than the media thinks it is.

8:46 PM  

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