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  • Aerial Euro-bashing?

    Posted by Ralf Goergens on March 16th, 2005 (All posts by )

    In his post below, Shannon states that there are serious questions about the Airbus 300/310 safety, but that European political considerations and prestige might prevent a comprehensive investigation ino the matter. Those are pretty heavy allegations. Now if you look at the post Shannon is linking to, and that obviously has inspired him to make these allegations, the basis for them does look pretty flimsy:

    …we have Canada whose rather vicious cycle of lies of late would made the Clintons blanch; and the world-wide left still ticked off that we have an embargo against the socialist worker’s paradise.

    I can see why it’d take a week for this story to break; It’d take ’em that long to figure out how to spin it.

    It’s become clear, though that the 310 is an accident waiting to happen… And the EU and it’s apologists don’t want that info getting public. They may not, however, be able to hold it off, this time.

    It’s quite clear that Eric has a political axe to grind here; he doesn’t offer a shred of evidence for his accusations. There’s also a lot of interesting information in the comments section that runs contrary to the thrust of Eric’s and Shannon’s posts.

    It also has to be considered that the A 310 has been around since 1983, so its track record doesn’t look bad at all. It’s not as if there hadn’t been any problems with comparable models by Boeing during that same period. The Boeing 737 had problems with its yaw damper and the rudder system in general:

    Over the years, pilots around the world have filed hundreds of reports of 737 flights disrupted by uncommanded rudder movements.
    Many safety experts believe the most extreme of such movements – an uncommanded hardover – is what caused two highly publicized and unsolved 737 crashes in the U.S. this decade. United Airlines Flight 585 dived from the sky into a park near Colorado Springs on March 3, 1991, killing 25 passengers and crew members. The plunge of USAir Flight 427 near Pittsburgh on Sept. 8, 1994, killed all 132 on board.
    Since the Pittsburgh crash, there have been more than 70 reports of 737 flights briefly thrown off course in a manner that suggests rudder malfunctions.

    A complex system like a commercial airliner simply can’t be made 100 % safe, the risk can only be minimized, so calling Airbus unsafe on the facts known so far is uncalled for.

    Here’s an interesting debate on the matter at a forum frequented by airline pilots, for some additional information.

     

    8 Responses to “Aerial Euro-bashing?”

    1. Shannon Love Says:

      My actual thinking on the matter was more determined by the Guardian article than the BitBlog post, especially this bit regarding the crash of the A310 in New York:

      “Ellen Connors, the NTSB chair, told reporters last January that the report was delayed because of ‘inappropriate’ and ‘intense’ lobbying by Airbus over its contents, adding: ‘The potential for contaminating the investigation exists.’ In America, the NTSB staff is small and manufacturers provide many of the staff employed on air-crash investigations into their own products.”

      The implication of the Guardian article is that Airbus leaned on the NTSB to create an finding of pilot error. Nothing unusual for a private company to try to frustrate regulators and spin their reports but in Airbus’ case they also carry behind them the weight of European governments. That makes such behavior (if it did actually happen) much more dangerous and troubling.

      I don’t know if the A300’s do in fact have design flaw in the rudder although I do think there is enough prima facie evidence to warrant more investigation. My concern is that IF there is a problem Airbus and European regulators will be slow to address it due to Airbus’ highly political nature.

      I didn’t intend my post to convey “look Europe sucks!” but rather “look, government support of individual commercial entities is inherently dangerous.” The fact that this particular case involves European entities isn’t really relevant to my central point.

    2. Ralf Goergens Says:

      Alright; anyway, I explain why I’m so touchy on the issuse in the next post above. :)

    3. Don Hodges Says:

      The A300 accident in NY was a VERTICAL STABILIZER failure, much more serious than this A310 RUDDER failure. (These are quite different airplanes, plus the stabilizer is a static piece, whereas the rudder is dynamic and removable.) The rudder failure can be caused by numerous sources, most likely improper maintenance.

      Airbus has taken some unique directions in control design, but it is unforgiveable to sell an airplane that can be destroyed by control inputs from trained professional pilots (the A300 case).

      I would wait for more info on the A310 incident – no reason to fault Airbus yet.

    4. Steve Says:

      The reason the Airbus cattle-car story has legs is the intense collusion between industry, government, and media in the statist European Nations.

      A free-thinking libertarian mind can’t help but suspect the worse here.

      And Canada’s Quebecois would dam up Niagra before admitting publicly that their subsidized purchase of Euro-planes might have serious faults.

      The bigger they are, the harder they fall.
      -Steve

    5. Bithead Says:

      “Doesn’t offer a shred”…. yada, yada.

      Tell me, how many accidents, and how much of the intense lobby efforts do we need to see before we conclude that there may be something amiss with the plane itself? This was the implication in the article I wrote.

      And I tend, by the way to agree with Shannon, here. Steve’s comment about government involvement in what takes on the appearences of a cover-up, seem correct to me, as well.

    6. Ralf Goergens Says:

      Bithead,

      given the huge number of Airbus planes, and thewir daily use, the number of accidents isn’t remarkable.

      Lets chack the planes out, by any means, but the FAA already made a very thourough job of it. They would have loved to keep them out of the American market, and would have done so if they had found a reason. That didn’t shows that the Airbus planes are sound.

    7. Bithead Says:

      Interesting, isn’t it, how the Europian view of the American relgulatory agencies is directly connected to how much they ignore about Euro industry?

      You apparently buy, hook line sinker, rod, reel fisherman, and half tghe coast, the nonsensical argument that the previous incidents of such rudder failure were pilot induced.

      You point with pride to the FAA’s ruling on the subject. “Well, the government said it, it must be rtue.’.

      One wonders if you’re quite so trusting of the American governmment in areas where the EU monopoly industries don’t fare so well.

    8. Ralf Goergens Says:

      Bithead,

      FAA rulings certainly aren’t infallible, but what proof do you have that the FAA was wrong in this instance?

      And yes, the rudder failure seems to have been pilot induced.