777236ER From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR: Posted (13 years 2 months 3 weeks 1 day 6 hours ago) and read 2002 times:
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - United Airlines said Thursday it had detected evidence of a flaw in the vertical stabilizer on one of its Airbus planes, raising more questions about the composite makeup of the tail fin on an aircraft that crashed in New York last month, killing 265 people.
Safety investigators, probing why the tail fin of an American Airlines Airbus A300 fell off seconds before that plane crashed after takeoff in New York in November, have talked with United and the manufacturer about the discovery made by mechanics on the United jetliner, an A320.
The latest development was first reported by USA Today.
Airbus said the tail fin composition of both model planes is similar even though the A300 is a wide-body aircraft, while the A320 is a smaller single-aisle jet.
Airbus and United said evidence of a flaw was revealed during recent ultrasonic tests in an area where the tail connects to the fuselage. The defect was described as a possible tiny ply separation within layered carbon fiber.
David Venz, a spokesman for Airbus, said the problem was in the rear section of the tail structure in an area that did not support the weight of the stabilizer.
The aircraft, which was made in 1994, was being returned to service by United, which said it would conduct ultrasonic tests on the tail sections of two other A320s.
The flaw was found on the opposite side of the tail section of the A320 where repairs were made at the factory on a different problem before being delivered to the airline.
``We just decided to take a look at it and we did,'' said United spokesman Joe Hopkins. He added that there were no problems detected in the area that had been previously repaired.
After the November crash of American Flight 587 that killed 265 people, the Federal Aviation Administration ordered carriers to visually inspect tail sections of A300s.
No problems were discovered during those checks, an FAA spokesman said.
Some safety experts have criticized the agency for not mandating ultrasonic inspections on the relatively small U.S. fleet of A300s, saying visual checks could not do a thorough job. The FAA has not ruled out additional tests down the road. The agency said it would closely watch the latest development.
``Certainly we'll want to know additional information to see if there is any safety issue to address,'' FAA spokesman Les Dorr said about the United discovery and its subsequent tests on two other aircraft.
While National Transportation Safety Board investigators will not likely determine what caused the crash of Flight 587 for a year or so, a critical part of the probe has focused on the tail fin and why it fell off.
NASA engineers are analyzing the tail's composites for any defects.
Advanced composites are increasingly used in commercial aircraft construction for their weight advantages and durability. These materials are usually constructed in layers, like pages in a book.
Composites are extremely resistant to fatigue, but when they fail it is usually catastrophic, experts said.
Investigators also are looking at the plane's rudder movements, and are examining at least four flight control mishaps over the past several years involving the A300 series aircraft. One involved the ill-fated American plane in 1994.
United is a unit of UAL Corp. while American is a unit of AMR Corp., and Airbus, based in Toulouse, France, is owned by European Aeronautic, Defense & Space Co and BAE Systems Plc.
Interesting. Probably not linked to the A300 crash. Still, makes you wonder...
777236ER From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 5, posted (13 years 2 months 3 weeks 1 day 5 hours ago) and read 1810 times:
I'm English, and I'm not celebrating. The fact is that an A300 crashed probably due to a defective composite tail fin, and now UAL has found a defective composite tail fin in one of its A320. Take that however you want.
Hoffa From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 6, posted (13 years 2 months 3 weeks 1 day 5 hours ago) and read 1803 times:
Seems like ultrasonic tests for all aircraft with composite tail fins is the way to go (current Airbus lineup and B777 both). I'm surprised this hasn't been mandated yet although the AA 587 crash is still under investigation.
GoAllegheny From United States of America, joined Nov 2000, 340 posts, RR: 0
Reply 9, posted (13 years 2 months 3 weeks 1 day 5 hours ago) and read 1770 times:
There are very few people who would celebrate the loss of so many people. Bin Laudin would be one of those, McVeigh another. Boeing and Airbus are both good manufacturers, and there have been mishaps at both companies. In this case, there is little doubt in my mind that composites stress and fatigue on commercial airliners is a big issue that is going to get a lot bigger. We seem to be on the wrong side of the learning curve on this one.
Hoffa From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 10, posted (13 years 2 months 3 weeks 1 day 5 hours ago) and read 1757 times:
It would seem the only tailfins affected are those that were improperly manufactured and then repaired in the factory before delivery, so its a much smaller percentage of the world fleet than you seem to think.
At the very least, a new policy of total replacement rather than repair of flawed tailfins on the production line would seem to be one outcome of all this.
Avilitigator From United States of America, joined Aug 2000, 214 posts, RR: 0
Reply 12, posted (13 years 2 months 3 weeks 1 day 5 hours ago) and read 1746 times:
"always funny to see how americans celebrate it if there is a small problem with an
Well, I'm an American and I'm not celebrating. I am, however, concerned that any plane I would fly on may have a structural problem that may cause catastrophic failure during flight, be it an Airbus 320/300 or a B777. If you're going to generalize, a more accurate generalization is that Americans are concerned about safety, and that they will not necessarily stick to an American product if they know it is unsafe. Take for example, Ford Pintos (defective rear gas tanks that tended to explode after a rear-end collision), or Ford Explorers (defective tires), and even Boeing 737s before the rudder deflection problem was corrected.
WarriorII From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 16, posted (13 years 2 months 3 weeks 1 day 2 hours ago) and read 1631 times:
Hmm, I sure would like to see some sort of proof, anyway, that is not a known serious problem.
I am very curious to see why you think that the B737NG is "crappy"? Seems SAS has gotten over most if not all of the introduction problems experienced with the NGs. I think that just switching from a lifelong history with MD, to Boeing caused some problems, but I tihnk SAS will really benefit from the NG's in the long run, they just had to get used to them.
About South African, well, I was very suprised to hear that they were talking about disposing of the B738 fleet, I thought it suited them well. I guess they don't fit SAA's structure. Anyway, you really don't make much sense in what you said, because SAA before disposed of their entire A320 fleet for the B738s! There are a few operators who replaced A320s with 737s: Oman Air, Midway, China Airlines, China Southern (In the process), and ANK Air Nippon to name a few. Also, look at TunisAir, they ordered the B737-600 while they operate the A319 and A320! BTW, what did that guy say about Americans....................
777236ER From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 20, posted (13 years 2 months 3 weeks 1 day 1 hour ago) and read 1564 times:
``We just decided to take a look at it and we did,'' That's a bit scary. This wasn't a scheduled mx thing then (unless the spokesperson wasn't right). This aircraft could be still flying around with this problem if they didn't decide to "have a look". Admittedly, it probably wouldn't have caused any problems, but after the AA crash, is that good enough?
Racko From Germany, joined Nov 2001, 4857 posts, RR: 19
Reply 24, posted (13 years 2 months 3 weeks 23 hours ago) and read 1485 times:
I know that not every american is anti-airbus, but if you look through these forums you will often see amercian making statements about airbus planes being unsafe, being underpowered, being ugly etc etc. and if you check then their user profile, 90% of them are from the USA.
Racko - 737-3/4/500,747-400,A32X,A330,A340 fan
: Manni, I am talking about 737NG's replacing A32Xs. (Although ANK is an exception). -Tom
: Racko, good observation! Warrior, the A32S was there before the 737NG's. If you are going to make these comparisons you might want to consider that ne
: Your point being racko And 90% of the people who are saying the same things about Boeing airplanes are from parts of the world that aren't the US.
: Here it goes A vs B. Guess what guys: 1. Most of the parts used to make Airbuses are made right here in the good ole' US of A. 2. The same things on t
: "Warrior, the A32S was there before the 737NG's. If you are going to make these comparisons you might want to consider that nearly every current Airbu
: Away from the A vs. B war....... ``We just decided to take a look at it and we did,'' That's a bit scary. This wasn't a scheduled mx thing then (unles
: Manni and Warrior II, That's quite a pointless discussion you're having. Can we just say that both are fantastic planes, which can be judged by their