Sunday, 7 June 2009

Flawed airspeed readings on the Airbus?

A report from today's news services say that more than 300 aircraft similar to the missing Air France jet — an Airbus A330-200 — are in service worldwide.

The report continues that investigators still do not know if Flight AF 447 was travelling at an incorrect speed as it crossed a storm cluster.

An aviation expert said the plane’s airspeed sensors, called pitot tubes, work on air pressure and might provide incorrect readings if they get obstructed by objects such as ice.

The tubes are heated to prevent icing at high altitude and there was no immediate information on what went wrong. If pilots believe the flawed readings are right, they might mistakenly alter their speed, jeopardising their plane.

Airbus said the correct procedure when confronted by unreliable speed indications was to maintain thrust and pitch and start trouble shooting. The Airbus telex has revived a long-standing debate among pilots over whether the Airbus planes are overly complex.

“This is a plane that is conceived by engineers for engineers and not always for pilots,” Jean-Pierre Albran, a veteran pilot of Boeing 747s, told Le Parisien newspaper. “For example on a 747, the throttle is pushed by hand. You feel it move in turbulence. On recent Airbuses, this throttle is fixed. You look at the dials. You don’t feel anything.”

My question is this: which airlines flying within or into Malaysia are using the A330-200? If there is any, what do they have to say about the safety of their aircraft and, inter alia, their passengers?

No comments: