EASA to mandate replacing Thales A330/A340 pitot tubes

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European safety regulators are to mandate the replacement of Thales pitot tubes on Airbus A330/A340s.

The airworthiness directive will require aircraft fitted with Thales probes to replace at least two of the three with units manufactured by Goodrich. A proposal is expected to be issued by mid-August.

Thales' older type "AA" probes would no longer be fitted. Aircraft retaining a single Thales probe would have the "BA" type installed.

The decision follows a precautionary recommendation in an Airbus telex to operators, which the airframer has issued "on the basis of limited information" about the circumstances of the Air France A330 accident over the South Atlantic on 1 June.

Airbus reiterates that the advisory is being sent despite the fact that the probes meet certification objectives. It says that it wants to take advantage of the "benefit of greater in-service experience we have with the Goodrich probes".

The European Aviation Safety Agency says its proposals, which have been agreed with Airbus, are based on pitot probe performance data recently analysed by EASA.

"All three [pitot tube] types comply with the applicable safety standards," it says. "The proposals are therefore intended as a precautionary measure."

Airbus says a large majority of the 1,000 A330/A340s delivered - about 80% - are already fitted with the Goodrich equipment, the standard offering by the airframer. Thales tubes are an optional fit. Replacement of the tubes, says Airbus, could be achieved in a 2h routine overnight maintenance visit.