AF447 and Airbus A330 pitot tubes – what is the FAA going to do?

Aero-Instruments pitot.jpg

Here’s my question: is the FAA going to follow EASA in issuing an airworthiness directive on A330 pitot tubes and, if it does, will it be identical?

I ask this because an odd situation has arisen in the last couple of days. It concerns US company Aero-Instruments, which is the third manufacturer of Airbus pitot tubes after Thales and Goodrich.

Aero-Instruments has been developing a PMA product for operators of allcurrent generation Airbus models in the aftermarket and it doesn’t yetsupply Airbus direct.

On 27 August it announcedthat it has actually begun deliveries of its pitot tubes, which are nowFAA-certified, to an un-named customer. Not necessarily for A330s -just for an Airbus operator of some kind. So far so good.

But yesterday over in Europe EASA issued its AD on the A330 pitot tubeswhich says aircraft must have two of the three pitots supplied byGoodrich and can have only the third one – feeding the first officer’sinstruments – from Thales. And that third one must be the updated BAmodel not the earlier AA model. It doesn’t say anything aboutAero-Instruments. So I think it’s clear that aircraft regulated by EASAhave to have Goodrich pitots with the possibility of one Thales BApitot.

(And I should add that EASA regards this as a precautionary measure asit hasn’t been able to demonstrate that the Thales BA pitot does notmeet certification requirements.)

Updated Now as it happens Delta/Northwest and US Airways are is the only US A330 operators, but ofcourse plenty of other countries look to either EASA or the FAA or bothfor a lead in formulating their own directives. And the FAA typicallyfollows EASA’s lead on Airbus matters. So that’s why I’m asking whatthe FAA will do. Will it allow Aero-Instruments pitots on A330/340s orwon’t it? And if it won’t, why not?

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5 Responses to AF447 and Airbus A330 pitot tubes – what is the FAA going to do?

  1. Leopold Alexander September 2, 2009 at 3:59 pm #

    AFAIK US Airways is a US operator of A330, too.

    BTW are these pitot tubes just for A330/340s or for A320 series as well?


  2. Paul September 2, 2009 at 4:27 pm #

    You are forgetting US Airways, which also as A330s.

  3. The other Kieran September 2, 2009 at 6:41 pm #

    GNSS derived airspeed anyone?

  4. The other Kieran September 3, 2009 at 12:50 pm #

    Just some blue sky thinking in light of the pitot-static related incidents and accidents of late. Perhaps time to re-visit a combination of IRU / GNSS / Temp and Datalink derived parameters to reduce or eliminate the plumbing? ;)

  5. Kieran Daly April 7, 2013 at 11:06 pm #

    Yes, USAirways an A330 operator of course – not sure what I was thinking there.

    And yes, the Aero-Instruments are for all current generation Airbus types – so the unknown customer is not necessarily involved with A330s.

    But as for GNSS-derived airspeed – I’ve never heard an explanation as to how that can really work in a way that would help in a traumatic loss-of-control situation. We are not trying to navigate here, we’re trying to aviate, possibly up in coffin corner, and definitely with extreme turbulence.

    But the other Kieran is a knowledgeable sort of guy and can no doubt put me right????

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