AF 447: Air France points the finger at Airbus and Thales

Le Figaro (FR)(English Translation)

A year and a half after the disaster of Flight 447 from Rio to Paris, France announced Thursday a new research phase of the wreckage of the flight from Paris to Rio, which crashed at sea with 228 victims.

A year and a half after the catastrophe of flight AF 447 Rio-Paris, France announced Thursday a new research phase of the wreck, while a report issued by Air France to justice is indirectly involved Airbus and Thales, a manufacturer of defective speed sensors. “The fourth phase of research at sea should begin in February 2011, according to a statement from the Ministry of Transport. “This campaign will involve locating the best equipment now available,” assured the new Secretary of State for Transport Thierry Mariani Monday  receiving the French associations of families of the victims.

The Airbus A330 of the French company crashed at sea on June 1, 2009 with 228 people on board, none of whom survived. Only 3% of the aircraft and fifty bodies have been recovered. Black boxes, recording flight parameters and pilot conversations that would explain the origin of the disaster remained unavailable until now in spite of three phases of research that ended last May 24.

Some 20 million euros have been spent in large part by the manufacturer Airbus and Air France. No amount has been provided for this fourth phase, but Air France and Airbus have told AFP they would attend. “It is absolutely essential to find the black boxes,” says the manufacturer. “We are very happy and satisfied (…) it was not easy,” said Jean-Baptiste Audousset Thursday, president of an association of families of the victims, “Mutual Aid and Solidarity AF 447.” He added that the association would ensure that the defined search area “is close to that which the association has planned after a long work,” referring to the mistakes made in previous phases.

The failure of sensors measuring speed pitot, manufactured by the French group Thales, has played a role in the accident, according to preliminary findings of the Bureau of Investigation and Analysis (BEA), responsible for technical investigations, for which, however, that failure can not alone explain the disaster .

Air France clears its crew

In addition, Air France has made “recently” a justice of memorandum on the accident in which the company considers itself blameless while pointing the finger at Airbus and Thales. “No breach of the regulations shall be issued against Air France,” concludes the document which AFP has obtained a copy. “The age analysis shows that Air France has continued to be proactive to try to remedy the malfunctions related to pitot probes events, occurring before the accident, the report said. “Airbus and Thales have considered these events as minor and inconsequential potentially catastrophic,” he notes, however, while conceding that “it is impossible to establish with certainty a causal link between the malfunction of the probes Pitot and the accident. “

Air France also clears the crew, considering that the preparation and monitoring of the flight could not be questioned. “We can not comment on the document handed to the judge: we do not know the exact content. We believe that the best way to solve this tragic accident is to make every effort to try to locate the wreckage and the black boxes, “said a spokesman for Airbus.

A source close to the manufacturer, however, stressed that Air France Airbus has certainly questioned about the cause of these dysfunctions observed from May 2008 on the A330 and A340 of the company. But she added that Air France did not issue any request to replace the probes Thales by Goodrich, ‘for reasons of harmonization of maintenance of its fleet. “


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