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Wed, Dec 19, 2012

FAA Issues Emergency AD For A320 Family Airplanes

Move Related To EASA Emergency AD For Angle Of Attack Sensors

The FAA has issued an Emergency AD (2012-26-51) for all Airbus Model A318, A319, A320, and A321 series airplanes. The AD was prompted by a report indicating that an airplane equipped with Angle of Attack (AoA) sensors (with conic plates installed) recently experienced blockage of all sensors during climb, leading to autopilot disconnection and activation of the alpha protection (Alpha Prot) when Mach number was increased. The FAA said it is issuing the AD to prevent reduced control of the airplane.

EASA advised the FAA that an Airbus Model A330 airplane equipped with Angle of Attack (AoA) sensors installed with conic plates recently experienced a similar condition, and issued EASA Emergency Airworthiness Directive 2012-0264-E, dated December 17, 2012. Based on the results of subsequent analysis, it is suspected that these conic plates may have contributed to the event. Investigations are ongoing to determine what caused the blockage of these AoA sensors.

Blockage of two or three AoA sensors at the same angle may cause the Alpha Prot of the normal law to activate. Under normal flight conditions (in normal law), if the Alpha Prot activates and Mach number increases, the flight control laws order a pitch down of the airplane that the flight crew might not be able to counteract with a side stick deflection, even in the full backward position. 

This condition, if not corrected, could result in reduced control of the airplane. EASA also issued Emergency AD 2012-0258-E, dated December 4, 2012, for Airbus Model A330 and A340 airplanes to require an amendment of the AFM to ensure that flight crews apply the applicable emergency procedure.

AoA sensor conic plates of similar design are also installed on Model A320 series airplanes. Installation of these AoA sensor conic plates was required for Model A318, A319, A320, and A321 series airplanes by EASA AD 2012-0236, dated November 9, 2012 (corrected November 12, 2012). Subsequently, EASA issued AD 2012-0236R1, dated December 17, 2012, to remove the requirement to install AoA sensor conic plates.

The FAA's AD requires revising the Emergency Procedures section of the Airbus A318/A319/A320/A321 Airplane Flight Manual (AFM) to incorporate Airbus A318/A319/A320/A321 Temporary Revision TR286, Issue 1.0, dated December 17, 2012, to advise the flight crew of emergency procedures for addressing AOA sensor blockage. This AD also provides for optional terminating action for the AFM revision, which involves replacing AoA sensor conic plates with AoA sensor flat plates.

FMI: AD

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