BEA Confirms Conflicting Airspeed Indications from Air France A330

 - June 5, 2009, 6:23 AM

France’s Bureau of Enquiry and Analysis for Civil Aviation Safety (BEA) has issued a statement confirming that sensors aboard the Air France A330-200 that went missing over the Atlantic Ocean on the evening of May 31 registered conflicting airspeed information. The statement follows yesterday’s telex to operators sent by Airbus and authorized by the BEA that advises crews of various models of airplanes to be aware of the possibility that such a condition could exist and to take appropriate action if they suspect faulty readings.

“A large quantity of more or less accurate information and attempts at explanations concerning the accident are currently being circulated,” said the BEA. “The [bureau] reminds those concerned that in such circumstances, it is advisable to avoid all hasty interpretations and speculation on the basis of partial or non-validated information.”

The BEA went on to note that it has concluded only two established facts: namely, that “the presence near the airplane’s planned route over the Atlantic of significant convective cells typical of the equatorial regions” and “based on the analysis of the automatic messages broadcast by the plane, there are inconsistencies between the various speeds measured.”

An Airbus spokesman told AIN this morning that the telex neither implied human error or an aircraft fault, and that the company sent the message purely as “a reminder of the applicable operational recommendations in case of an unreliable airspeed indication.”  

The aircraft, bound for Paris from Rio de Janeiro when it lost radio contact with controllers on Sunday evening as it entered an area of thunderstorm activity, carried 228 passengers and crewmembers. Search teams from Brazil, France and U.S. continue to search for the exact location of the wreckage after determining debris found earlier during the search did not come from the doomed flight.