PARIS — Airbus knew since at least 2002 about problems with the type of speed sensor that malfunctioned on an Air France passenger plane that went down in June, the Associated Press has learned. But air safety authorities did not order their replacement until after the crash, which killed all 228 people aboard.
The tubes, about the size of an adult hand and fitted to the underbelly of a plane, are vulnerable to blockage from water and icing. Experts have suggested that Flight 447’s sensors, made by French company Thales SA, may have iced over and sent false speed information to the computers as the plane ran into a thunderstorm at about 35,000 feet (10,600 meters).
The exact role the sensors – known as Pitots – played in the crash may never be known without the flight recorders, which have not been recovered and which have stopped emitting signals. Investigators insist sensor malfunction was not the cause of the crash, but many pilots think false speed readings may have triggered a chain of events that doomed the plane.
Fernando Alonso, head of Flight Operations at Airbus, maintains the doomed Airbus A330 plane was “totally airworthy.”
To read the full story click here.