Air France steps up A330 pitot changes

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Air France is stepping up replacement of speed monitors on its Airbus A330s.

Paris – Air France said Saturday it was stepping up replacement of speed monitors on its Airbus A330s, amid speculation that a faulty indication might have been a factor in the loss of its Rio de Janeiro-Paris flight over the Atlantic with 228 people on board.

In a statement, Air France said that in May last year it began noticing "incidents of loss of airspeed information during cruise flight" on its twin-engine A330s and four-engine A340s, and informed Airbus of the problem.

The device in question is the pitot probe -- usually affixed to the leading edge of a wing -- measures the force of the air through which an aircraft passes.

Combined with a pressure reading from a static port on the fuselage, it tells the flight crew how fast the aircraft is going through the air.

Following tests of a new, more accurate pitot probe, said Air France; it had begun changing all pitot probes on both aircraft types in its fleet under a programme that began on April 27 -- five weeks before Flight 447 went down.

"Without prejudging a link with the causes of the accident, Air France has accelerated this programme and recalls the guidelines in place set out by the manufacturer to deal with the lost of airspeed indication," it said.

Its statement followed a telex sent out by Airbus to its customers this week referring to "inconsistency between the different measured airspeeds" on Flight 447, based on technical error messages received before it was lost.

It went on to remind Airbus operators to follow established guidelines "in case of unreliable airspeed indication" -- while at the same time stressing it was not prejudging the outcome of an ongoing investigation.

The first two bodies from Flight 447 were recovered at sea on Saturday, along with small items of debris, the Brazilian air force said.

AFP / Expatica

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