UA jet encountered pitch control problem.
WASHINGTON, March 23 (Reuters) - U.S. safety officials said on Wednesday that they were investigating an apparent problem with a key aircraft control system aboard an American Airlines jetliner outside Paris this week.
The National Transportation Safety Board said a Boeing 767-300 experienced difficulty in controlling its pitch, or up or down movement of its nose, while approaching Charles de Gaulle International Airport on Tuesday.
The aircraft -- American Flight 48 from Dallas -- landed safely, and none of its 124 passengers and 13 crew members was injured.
But the Paris incident was bound to refocus attention on the tail components of 767-series planes, which Egyptian authorities believe may have played a role in the crash of an EgyptAir 767-300 off the coast of Massachusetts in 1999 that killed 217 people.
U.S. investigators, who will release a preliminary report on that crash next month, have repeatedly said they have found no mechanical explanation for the EgyptAir crash. They have not, however, confirmed speculation that the disaster was caused by the deliberate act of a crew member.
A safety board spokesman said the American Airlines incident in Paris and the EgyptAir investigation were unrelated.
According to the safety board, the American Airlines plane was descending at an altitude of about 6,000 feet when crew members noticed that the elevator panels on its tail -- movable components that control pitch -- did not work when they were supposed to.
So the crew used the horizontal stabilizer trim -- another control device on the tail -- to maintain proper nose position.
French authorities removed the plane's flight data and voice recorders and sent preliminary information to the safety board in Washington for analysis.
The voice recorder contained no useful information, according to the board. It said interviews with the flight crew were being coordinated.
Experts from the board, Boeing Co. and AMR Corp.'s American are examining the plane in Paris.
Initial examination of the tail components, including power control units, revealed no problems, according to the safety board.
As part of its investigation into the crash of the EgyptAir 767-300, the board has studied the performance of the plane's elevator mechanism.
Egyptian authorities have pressed U.S. investigators to look more closely at possible mechanical explanations for the crash and previously cited the plane's elevator mechanism as playing a possible role.
The Federal Aviation Administration recently issued a directive requiring closer inspection of the elevator system on 767s. The FAA and Boeing said the directive was not in any way related to the EgyptAir crash.
Taken from Airdisaster.com (I apologise if I am not supposed to do this)
What do you think, is it likely that there is a fundamental flaw in the B767 horizontal tail? Does anyone think that uncertainty over this is affecting sales? (This not Boeing bashing but rather an attempt to encourage honest debate, I think the 767 is a great machine)