Qantas says it is unaffected by the pitot probe issues that are being implicated in the AF447 Airbus crash in the mid Atlantic six days ago because it used a different design and manufacturer for the air speed sensors involved.

It uses American BF Goodrich sensors which  did require compulsory replacements with improved versions because of icing problems in 2002 but that was before Qantas began flying A330s.

The Air France A330 uses pitots made by Thales in France.

The pitots on the Qantas A330s have not been without vulnerabilities. Between January and March in 2006 it had five pitot system failures on the jets all traced by the ATSB to wasp infestations at Brisbane airport.

The most spectacular failure came on 19 March 2006, when the pilot in command of an A330 aborted the takeoff after noticing a wide discrepancy in the air speed shown by the externally mounted pressure tubes or probes, which lead to six of its eight wheels deflating because of overheated brakes while taxying back to the terminal.

A Qantas spokesperson says the airline is closely following developments in the Air France accident for anything which may be relevant to its operations but emphasised that it had no outstanding airworthiness directives or recommendations related to its A330s which were in full compliance with all requirements.

There are reports of more wreckage and bodies from AF447 being sighted and tracked pending recovery in the crash recovery area.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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