Good News For Boeing?

Discussion in 'Stocks' started by pspr, Jul 1, 2009.

  1. pspr


    Airbus could be asked to ground all long-range airliners
    by Charles Bremner in Paris

    Airbus is expected to face calls to ground its worldwide fleet of long-range airliners tomorrow when French accident investigators issue their first account of what caused Air France Flight 447 to crash off Brazil on June 1.

    It is believed that the accident bureau will report that stormy weather was a factor but faulty speed data and electronics were the main problem in the disaster that killed 228 people.

    The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) is likely to be asked why it had never taken action to remedy trouble that was well known with the Airbus 330 and 340 series. Nearly 1,000 of the aircraft are flying and until AF447, no passenger had been killed in one.

    “EASA has a legal and moral obligation to get to the bottom of this problem now. If there is a defective system and the aircraft is unsafe then it should be grounded,” said James Healy-Pratt of Stewarts Law in London. The firm, which specialises in aviation, is representing the families of 20 of the victims of flight 447.

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    Only 11 bodies of the 50 recovered from the Atlantic have been identified. They include Captain Marc Dubois, 58, who is believed to have been resting when his two co-pilots lost control of the aircraft in a storm. The search for bodies has been called off but ships continue to hunt for the black boxes although their locator beacons are assumed to have expired.

    Suspicion over the air data systems on the Airbus 330 and 340 series has increased after the disclosure that the aircraft had experienced 36 episodes similar to the one that brought Flight 447 down as it flew from Rio de Janeiro to Paris.

    Airbus first reported problems with the speed sensors — known as pitot tubes — in 1994, it emerged this week. The company advised remedies, but no mandatory action was taken.

    Last weekend, the US National Transportation Safety Board, began looking into two incidents in which Airbus A330s flying from the US suffered critical episodes apparently similar to that of AF447.

    This raises the prospect of a possible US order on modifications to the Airbus.

    The first US incident occurred on May 21 when a TAM Airlines flight from Miami to Sao Paulo, Brazil, lost primary speed and altitude information while in cruise flight. The other was on a Northwest Airlines flight, on June 23, from Hong Kong to Tokyo.

    Accounts on the internet from the pilots report a desperate struggle to keep the jet in the air.

    The fate of Flight 447 would probably have remained an eternal mystery had the aircraft not automatically transmitted data back to the Air France maintenance base.

    In the final four minutes, they told a story that was familiar to the airline. Ice particles or water had blocked the three pitot tubes. This upset the air data computers which in turn caused the automatic pilot to disconnect. The pilots would have had to fly manually in near-impossible conditions.