Friday, May 27, 2011

The Tale of One Tail

It's hard to miss all the stories this week pinning the fate of Air France 447 on iced-over pitot tubes.

Two years after the Airbus 330 crashed in the Atlantic the French Bureau of Investigations and Analyses is finally reviewing data from flight recorders found at the bottom of the ocean after an exhaustive search.  Preliminary investigation shows that conflicting airspeed information from onboard sensors caused the Airbus to disconnect the autopilot, leaving the crew to fly manually.  A stall warning followed by several control inputs and the still confusing reaction of the pilot flying to pull up followed.

Even as some media outlets play this story like a zigged-when-he-should-have-zagged repeat of the crew proficiency issues in the Colgan Air tragedy, it's important to remember that these latest details of the crash must share the glare of scrutiny with the above photo of the A330's neatly-severed vertical stabilizer, which was found floating in the ocean some miles from subsequent debris fields in the days after the crash.

That is one pristine piece of airplane.


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