In a further sign that the crash of flight AF447 into the mid-Atlantic two years ago was caused by the way the Air France A330-200 was flown, Airbus has advised airlines that no safety action requirement has arisen from a preliminary review of the information yielded by the jet’s flight data recorder.
This disclosure coincides with some angry responses in France to a report in Le Figaro that pointed to pilot error as the cause.
The current status of the investigations is summarised in this extract from a Reuters report tonight:
In the first tangible indication of where investigations may be leading, Airbus told airlines on Tuesday that it had no new safety recommendations as a result of officials’ first glimpse of the black box data, sources familiar with the matter said.
Although not released to the public, such industry-wide messages are seen as significant because they can only be issued with the approval of official crash investigators.
Any obvious defect would automatically lead to some form of recommendation to avoid risking passenger safety on the rest of the 1,000 or so A330 aircraft in service across the world.
“At this stage of the preliminary analysis of the DFDR (digital flight data recorder), Airbus has no immediate recommendation to raise to operators,” the European plane maker said in an industry bulletin obtained by reporters.
The French accident investigation authority has already indicated that it will take several months to synchronise the information in the flight data recorder with the conversations and other sounds captured by the cockpit voice recorder.
Most observers expect this process will take weeks rather than months before a definitive statement is issued by the investigation team.
It is also premature to read the situation as absolving Airbus from blame, in that this accident, and a series of previous incidents, has already raised concerns about its recommended procedures for dealing with unreliable air speed indications arising from ice clogged external speed measuring devices called pitots.