Air france jet may have crashed in atlantic

As investigators continue to focus on faulty airspeed indicators as the cause of the Air France crash off the coast of Brazil, the National Transportation Safety Board says a Northwest Airlines Airbus 330 may have had a similar problem.

In a release late Thursday, the NTSB said the Northwest jet was flying between Hong Kong and Tokyo on Tuesday when it apparently had faulty readings for airspeed and altittude. “The aircraft landed safely in Tokyo; no injuries or damage was reported. Data recorder information, Aircraft Condition Monitoring System messages, crew statements and weather information are being collected by NTSB investigators,” the release said.

Investigators in the Air France case are trying to determine if icing on the external speed sensors called — called pitot tubes — caused incorrect airspeed readings and allowed the crew to fly the plane far beyond its capability to to withstand an in-flight break-up.

The official report by French accident investigators is due in a month and seems likely to echo provisional verdicts suggesting human error. There is no doubt that at least one of AF447’s pilots made a fatal and sustained mistake, and the airline must bear responsibility for the actions of its crew. It will be a grievous blow for Air France, perhaps more damaging than the Concorde disaster of July 2000.

But there is another, worrying implication that the Telegraph can disclose for the first time: that the errors committed by the pilot doing the flying were not corrected by his more experienced colleagues because they did not know he was behaving in a manner bound to induce a stall. And the reason for that fatal lack of awareness lies partly in the design of the control stick – the “side stick” – used in all Airbus cockpits.

Anything to do with Airbus is important. The company has sold 11,500 aircraft to date, with 7,000 in the air. It commands half the world market in big airliners, the other half belonging to its great American rival, Boeing.

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