777236ER
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UA Finds Fault With A320 Fin

Sat Dec 15, 2001 1:48 am

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...
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DELL_dude
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RE: UA Finds Fault With A320 Fin

Sat Dec 15, 2001 1:50 am

I always felt safer on a Boeing, and this is just my opinion.

DELL_dude
 
racko
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RE: UA Finds Fault With A320 Fin

Sat Dec 15, 2001 1:58 am

always funny to see how americans celebrate it if there is a small problem with an airbus.

If there would be reports about every problem found at a boeing they could fill books with that.

 
AA737-823
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RE: UA Finds Fault With A320 Fin

Sat Dec 15, 2001 2:03 am

Give me a DC-9 any day.
 
airman99o
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RE: UA Finds Fault With A320 Fin

Sat Dec 15, 2001 2:03 am

GREAT!! Just what I need to hear. I work with an airline that has nothing but Airbus planes. A-320's and -330's Hope that they are doing inspections on all of our aircraft.

airman99o
Safety is Everyones Responsibility.
 
777236ER
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RE: UA Finds Fault With A320 Fin

Sat Dec 15, 2001 2:04 am

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.
Your bone's got a little machine
 
Hoffa
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RE: UA Finds Fault With A320 Fin

Sat Dec 15, 2001 2:05 am

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.
 
Captain.MD-11
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RE: UA Finds Fault With A320 Fin

Sat Dec 15, 2001 2:19 am

Not rying to jump the gun, however when you think about it these findings could ground a majority of the worlds fleet!

A319
A320
A321
A310
A300
A330
A340
B777

Do any others use the same material in their tail sections?
Twins,twins, everywhere.... but where are the three holers?
 
Captain.MD-11
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RE: UA Finds Fault With A320 Fin

Sat Dec 15, 2001 2:20 am

Sorry it is spelled trying  Smile/happy/getting dizzy
Twins,twins, everywhere.... but where are the three holers?
 
GoAllegheny
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RE: UA Finds Fault With A320 Fin

Sat Dec 15, 2001 2:21 am

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
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RE: UA Finds Fault With A320 Fin

Sat Dec 15, 2001 2:26 am

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.
 
Captain.MD-11
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RE: UA Finds Fault With A320 Fin

Sat Dec 15, 2001 2:29 am

Sorry I didn't read that Hoffa, but the implications of such a finding could be yet another massive blow to the airlines  Sad
Twins,twins, everywhere.... but where are the three holers?
 
Avilitigator
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RE: UA Finds Fault With A320 Fin

Sat Dec 15, 2001 2:34 am

Racko:

"always funny to see how americans celebrate it if there is a small problem with an
airbus."

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.
 
BWIrwy4
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RE: UA Finds Fault With A320 Fin

Sat Dec 15, 2001 3:24 am

Wasn't one of the reasons why United went for the Airbus because they lost one of their 737s due to a rudder deflection?
 
b757300
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RE: UA Finds Fault With A320 Fin

Sat Dec 15, 2001 5:26 am

Hey Solnabo, stop trying to turn this into a flame war. Your comment is nothing but a lame attempt to incite another Airbus vs. Boeing war.
"There is no victory at bargain basement prices."
 
RIX
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RE: UA Finds Fault With A320 Fin

Sat Dec 15, 2001 5:47 am

Hey, Racko! Read those SAS 736 comments? What would you say now? Big grin
 
Guest

RE: UA Finds Fault With A320 Fin

Sat Dec 15, 2001 5:52 am

Solnabo,

Hmm, I sure would like to see some sort of proof, anyway, that is not a known serious problem.

Manni,

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....................

-Tom
 
Scorpio
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RE: UA Finds Fault With A320 Fin

Sat Dec 15, 2001 6:02 am

China Airlines never operated A320s. China Southern, afaik, has no plans to replace their A320s. TunisAir ordered the A32x and 737NG pretty much at the same time.

BTW, I think Manni was being sarcastic in his comments, merely pointing out to some here that it's not only Airbuses which have problems.
 
OO-AOG
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Scorpio

Sat Dec 15, 2001 6:07 am

China airlines did operate a single A320.


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Scorpio
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RE: UA Finds Fault With A320 Fin

Sat Dec 15, 2001 6:28 am

Hmm, never knew they operated the A320. But still, this seems to have been a short-term lease, and it was NOT (as you suggest) replaced by the 737NG.

TunisAir ordered the A320 before the 737-600, but the A319 was ordered at pretty much the same time as the 737-600 (don't have the dates, sorry).

And it was stated a few months ago that China Southern plans to standardize on the B737NG.

Never heard about it. Are you sure it's China Southern, as there's a lot of airlines out there with similar names  Big grin
 
777236ER
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RE: UA Finds Fault With A320 Fin

Sat Dec 15, 2001 6:42 am

``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?

Time for mandatory composite fin checks.....?
Your bone's got a little machine
 
manni
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RE: UA Finds Fault With A320 Fin

Sat Dec 15, 2001 7:09 am

Just for the record,
Airlines that replaced the 737 for the A32S.
United, US Airways, America West, Lufthansa, Sabena, British Airways, ... Insane
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donder10
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RE: UA Finds Fault With A320 Fin

Sat Dec 15, 2001 7:16 am

Dell_dude,
you seem to post alot of these anti-Airbus posts which are more or less identical.Why?
 
Guest

RE: UA Finds Fault With A320 Fin

Sat Dec 15, 2001 7:18 am

Racko, that was just plain dumb
 
racko
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RE: UA Finds Fault With A320 Fin

Sat Dec 15, 2001 8:23 am

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  Smile
 
Guest

RE: UA Finds Fault With A320 Fin

Sat Dec 15, 2001 10:06 am

Manni,
I am talking about 737NG's replacing A32Xs. (Although ANK is an exception).

-Tom
 
manni
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RE: UA Finds Fault With A320 Fin

Sun Dec 16, 2001 12:36 am

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 nearly every current Airbus customer was a Boeing customer before. With the exception of the newer airlines.
SUPPORT THE LEBANESE CIVILIANS
 
L-188
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RE: UA Finds Fault With A320 Fin

Sun Dec 16, 2001 1:03 am

Your point being racko Insane

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.

OBAMA-WORST PRESIDENT EVER....Even SKOORB would be better.
 
addi375
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RE: UA Finds Fault With A320 Fin

Sun Dec 16, 2001 2:35 am

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 the airbus are the same things on the boeing.
3. They both are made by man so everynow and again something will go wrong.
Walmart prices with Bloomies service...........
 
Guest

RE: UA Finds Fault With A320 Fin

Sun Dec 16, 2001 2:46 am

"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 Airbus customer was a Boeing customer before. With the exception of the newer airlines."

I really don't see your point. It's not suprising alot of ex.Boeing carriers have ordered from AI, seeing that the only players back in the day were MD and Boeing. On the other hand, just as many carriers have gone to Boeing, or stayed with Boeing.

-Tom
 
777236ER
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RE: UA Finds Fault With A320 Fin

Sun Dec 16, 2001 3:06 am

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 (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?

Time for mandatory composite fin checks.....?
Your bone's got a little machine
 
Scorpio
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RE: UA Finds Fault With A320 Fin

Sun Dec 16, 2001 3:23 am

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 sales numbers?

Back to the actual discussion: If there's a problem with the composite tailfin, it needs to be fixed. But it's too early to jump to conclusions: in the wake of a serious accidents, every incident tends to get blown out of proportion.