Airspeed Woes Have Long Plagued Airbus A330

By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 6, 2009 6:13 PM CDT
Undated file photo made available by Airbus, showing an Airbus A330-200 jetliner from the French company Air France.   (AP Photo/Airbus)
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(Newser) – Regulators have warned Airbus for years that speed sensors on its A330 planes were unreliable and made flying unsafe. In the wake of last week's Air France disaster, which killed 228 people when an A330 crashed in an Atlantic storm, Reuters has unearthed regulatory warnings to Airbus. "Lost or erroneous airspeed indications could result in lack of sufficient information ... to safely operate the airplane," the FAA wrote 8 years ago.

One clue to last week's crash is an automated message sent from the plane's flightdeck, warning of conflicting flight speed data. In response, the French company that supplied the sensors, Thales, called it premature to speculate about what caused the crash. Airbus has upgraded its cockpit manual and speed sensors on some models after warnings about the sensors in 2001 and 2002.