Sir - I refer to your editorial "Difference of opinion" and the article "ATR tests rival types to challenge FAA actions" (Flight International, 21 December, 1994-3 January, 1995). It is my view that the French Directorate General of Civil Aviation's (DGAC's) primary focus is the support of French products, with safety being a secondary concern.

In the USA, hundreds of millions of passengers are moved each year. Safe, affordable air travel is an essential part of the US economy, so, for the US Federal Aviation Administration, safety is a primary concern.

I believe that the problems with the autopilot/fly-by-wire systems on Airbus aircraft provide strong evidence of the DGAC's position. While pilot error was certainly a contributor to the Airbus A300 crash at Nagoya, Japan, the crew must have believed that the aircraft would "behave" in a specific fashion. The fact that it did not is a problem which Airbus Industrie and the DGAC need to address.

Two Airbus aircraft have crashed, under suspiciously similar circumstances, with substantial loss of life. The French attitude appears to be to let the aircraft continue to crash while it works out what is happening.

The FAA would prohibit operation in conditions which seem to cause problems. Perhaps if ATR were to spend more time working on the problem and testing its own aircraft, it might have less about which to complain.

As far as ATR's comments about its competitors go, there may be problems, but it is not Saab 340s, Fokker 50s or Embraer Brasilias which have crashed. The fundamental evidence is that there is a problem with the ATR 42/72.


Phoenix, Arizona, USA

Source: Flight International