Airbus rudder safety questioned

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Shortly aftre 9/11, American Airlines flight 587 crashed on Rockaway, after takeoff from Kennedy Airport. There has long been speculation the plane was brought down by a terror attack, though the official cause of the crash was a failure in the tail integrity. New evidence has surfaced reinforcing the official verdict and raising questions about the safety of Airbus civil airliners. The New York Post reports:

New rudder problems have been found on French—made Airbus jets that could cause disasters like the deadly 2001 crash of American Airlines Flight 587 in the Rockaways, federal safety officials warned yesterday.

The rudders of many Airbus passenger jets are made of composite plastic that appears dangerously prone to disintegrating, the National Transportation Safety Board said.

NTSB officials want airlines to immediately comply with recommendations issued by Airbus earlier this month for checks on its A300, A310, A330 and A340 aircraft.

"This urgent recommendation, if acted upon quickly, will go a long way to prevent a catastrophic failure of the rudder," NTSB acting chairman Mark Rosenker said.

Most disturbingly:

...the 2001 crash and yesterday's NTSB recommendation raise questions about maximum capabilities, or "limit load," of many Airbus rudders, said Robert Spragg, an aviation lawyer for the Manhattan firm Kreindler and Kreindler.

"If there are a number of events where the limit load is exceeded, that would draw into question Airbus Industries' initial calculations," Spragg said.

The mega—jumbo A 380 airliner, meant to deprive Boeing of its lucrative 747 franchise on ultra—large aircraft, has seen its delivery delayed for unspecified reasons. Industry gossip held that fuel economy (weight) issues and possible wing issues were at fault. But when pushing the state of the art in the use of composites, many possible sources of trouble exist. Any questions about the reliability of Airbus calculations come as disquieting news for major customers of the A 380, including the largest single customer, Emirates Airlines of Dubai, and Singapore Airlines.

Stay tuned.

Hat tip: Jospeh Crowley

Thomas Lifson  3 26 06

Shortly aftre 9/11, American Airlines flight 587 crashed on Rockaway, after takeoff from Kennedy Airport. There has long been speculation the plane was brought down by a terror attack, though the official cause of the crash was a failure in the tail integrity. New evidence has surfaced reinforcing the official verdict and raising questions about the safety of Airbus civil airliners. The New York Post reports:

New rudder problems have been found on French—made Airbus jets that could cause disasters like the deadly 2001 crash of American Airlines Flight 587 in the Rockaways, federal safety officials warned yesterday.

The rudders of many Airbus passenger jets are made of composite plastic that appears dangerously prone to disintegrating, the National Transportation Safety Board said.

NTSB officials want airlines to immediately comply with recommendations issued by Airbus earlier this month for checks on its A300, A310, A330 and A340 aircraft.

"This urgent recommendation, if acted upon quickly, will go a long way to prevent a catastrophic failure of the rudder," NTSB acting chairman Mark Rosenker said.

Most disturbingly:

...the 2001 crash and yesterday's NTSB recommendation raise questions about maximum capabilities, or "limit load," of many Airbus rudders, said Robert Spragg, an aviation lawyer for the Manhattan firm Kreindler and Kreindler.

"If there are a number of events where the limit load is exceeded, that would draw into question Airbus Industries' initial calculations," Spragg said.

The mega—jumbo A 380 airliner, meant to deprive Boeing of its lucrative 747 franchise on ultra—large aircraft, has seen its delivery delayed for unspecified reasons. Industry gossip held that fuel economy (weight) issues and possible wing issues were at fault. But when pushing the state of the art in the use of composites, many possible sources of trouble exist. Any questions about the reliability of Airbus calculations come as disquieting news for major customers of the A 380, including the largest single customer, Emirates Airlines of Dubai, and Singapore Airlines.

Stay tuned.

Hat tip: Jospeh Crowley

Thomas Lifson  3 26 06