Flight 'iIcident' Puts Speed Sensors in Spotlight

The pilot of an Air France plane flying from Rome to Paris this month spent a minute without information on the speed of the aircraft, which was equipped with new generation speed sensors installed after the June crash of another flight, the newspaper Le Figaro reported in an article for its Thursday edition.

The report said the lives of passengers on the July 13 flight were not in danger.

Deficient speed sensors, or Pitot tubes, were "a factor, but not the only one" in the June 1 of Air France Flight 447's crash into the Atlantic Ocean en route from Rio de Janeiro to Paris, chief crash investigator Alain Bouillard has said. That crash killed 228 people.

Air France had ordered the replacement of Pitot tubes on their
Airbus aircraft and a new generation of sensors, located on the
aircraft's exterior, are now being used. Both the old and new
sensors are made by France's Thales Group.

Le Figaro cited an internal crew report on the Rome-Paris flight
as saying there was a "brutal loss of speed indications,"
followed by the disappearance of information measuring wind force
and other factors.

Telephone calls to Air France officials were not immediately
answered. The airlines' offices were closed for the evening.

A spokesman for the main Air France pilots union confirmed the
incident to The Associated Press, but said he did not have more
information.

"We are aware of the incident. We are awaiting details," said
Erick Derivry. If the problem is indeed with the Pitot tubes, the
SNPL union will ask Air France "that planes be equipped with
Goodrich sensors," he said.

The North Carolina-based Goodrich Corp. also makes Pitot tubes.

Le Figaro quoted an unnamed Air France official saying that
"all necessary measures will be taken."


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