I know how safe air travel is. But after the Qantas incident, the Air France 447 crash and now this, I’m just not happy at the thought of flying by Airbus anymore:
Last night the National Transportation Safety Board revealed that within the last five weeks two Airbus A330 airliners have had critical episodes involving speed sensors – the same kind of emergency that is at the heart of the investigation into the loss of Air France Flight 447.
The first episode involved a TAM airlines flight from Miami to Sao Paulo, Brazil on May 21. The language of the NTSB notice describing this is unusually stark: [The airplane] “experienced a loss of primary speed and altitude information while in cruise flight. Initial reports indicate that the flight crew noted an abrupt drop in indicated outside air temperature, followed by the loss of the Air Data Reference System and disconnections of the autopilot and autothrust, along with the loss of speed and altitude information. The flight crew used backup instruments and primary data was restored in about 5 minutes. The flight landed with no further incident and there were no injuries or damage.”
The common factor remains pitot tube faults, causing the fly-by-wire computer to disengage the autopilot and give up flying the plane. Under calm flying conditions it seems pilots can regain control of the aircraft (albeit with difficulty) – in the middle of a storm the fault appears to lead to catastrophe.
Someone convince me I’m worrying over nothing, please.