FAA issues Thales pitot directive

Washington DC
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The US FAA has followed EASA in issuing a final airworthiness directive calling for operators of Airbus A330 and A340 series aircraft to replace certain Thales pitot tubes by 7 January. EASA issued a similar AD on 31 August.

Thales pitot probes on the A330 and A340 have come under intense scrutiny since the Air France A330 accident on 1 June, following evidence of airspeed anomalies.

"We are issuing this AD to prevent airspeed discrepancies, which could lead to disconnection of the autopilot and/or auto-thrust functions, and reversion to flight control alternate law and consequent increased pilot workload," says the FAA in the new AD, released earlier today. "Depending on the prevailing airplane altitude and weather, this condition, if not corrected, could result in reduced control of the airplane."

The AD requires operators to equip aircraft with at least two Goodrich pitot probes for the pilot and standby positions, while an upgraded Thales "BA" model pitot tube or a Goodrich probe can be used for the copilot position. Both directives effectively ban the use of Thales "AA" models on the aircraft.

The FAA says it may consider "further rulemaking to address other Airbus models".