"Airbus charged over Rio tragedy
March 18, 2011
JET builder Airbus has been accused of involuntary manslaughter over the deaths of 228 people in the Rio-Paris crash in 2009.
Preliminary charges have been laid by a judge to start a formal investigation into the crash of the Air France flight.
Airbus said there was an “absence of facts supporting the charge” and chief executive Thomas Enders said it was premature. He added it would be better to focus on finding the cause of the crash and making sure it never happened again.
Investigators found automatic messages from the Airbus A330-200’s flight computers indicating an electrical fault. The pilots may have been receiving false speed readings from sensors.
Air safety authorities ordered the pitot tube sensors to be replaced on other aircraft after the disaster, although the problem had been known about since 2002.
Franco-German company Airbus says that only finding the black box flight data recorders will give answers to what happened when Flight 447 crashed into the Atlantic during a storm.
A fourth phase of searching for the black box is due to begin this weekend, with Air France and Airbus paying the seven million euro cost. It will use a mini-submarine searching in the south Atlantic crevices, which can be as deep as 13,000ft.
Just three per cent of the plane has been recovered, including a large part of the tailfin. Fifty bodies have been found."
What does this have to do with wildlife?
The pitot tube problem cropped up much earlier in Birgenair Flight 301, in 1996. The reason for the faulty pitot tubes. Investigators suspected that some kind of insect could have created a nest inside the pitot tube. The prime suspect is a species called the Black and yellow mud dauber wasp, well-known by pilots flying in the Dominican Republic. The aircraft had not flown in 25 days during which time the pitot tubes were not covered, giving the wasps an opportunity to build nests in the tubes.
(NB: Final comment courtesy of Charles Thomas)