European safety regulators are to mandate the replacement of Thales pitot tubes on Airbus A330/340 aircraft, and expect to issue a proposal in the next two weeks.

The airworthiness directive will require aircraft fitted with Thales probes to replace at least two of the three with probes manufactured by Goodrich.

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 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.

A spokesman for the airframer says the manufacturer wants to take advantage of the "benefit of greater in-service experience we have with the Goodrich probes".

In a statement 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."

EASA intends to publish its proposal in the next two weeks.

Airbus says a large majority of the 1,000 A330/340s delivered - about 80% - are already fitted with the Goodrich equipment, the standard offering by the airframer. Thales tubes are an optional fit.

Thales and Goodrich have yet to comment on the decision.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news