Investigation's Slow Pace 'Troublesome'
The global airline community
anxiously awaits investigators' findings in the November 27 crash
of an Air New Zealand Airbus 320 on approach to Perpignon, France.
Although Airbus has refused to speculate on the cause of the
accident, The New Zealand Herald reports
the incident may be the third in three months stemming
from a defective flight control computer.
As ANN reported, seven people were lost when
the A320 suddenly dove and banked into the Mediterranean near the
end of a post-maintenance ferry flight... the third instance in as
many months that an Airbus had maneuvered erratically while in
Airbus released a service bulletin shortly after a Qantas
A330 dropped about 650 feet within seconds while flying over
Australia in early October. That SB advised operators of the
advanced widebody airliner -- and its larger A340 sibling -- to be
aware of an apparent glitch in air data computers manufactured by
Litton Industries, a subsidiary of Northrop Grumman.
In that case, a preliminary report by the Australian Transport
Safety Bureau determined one of the A330's three Air Data Inertial
Reference Unit sent incorrect information to the aircraft's
fly-by-wire flight control system, which caused the autopilot to
disconnect due to warnings of an imminent stall.
The flight data computers on the Air New Zealand aircraft were
manufactured by another company, Honeywell.
Pieces of the destroyed airliner are now being collected in a
large hangar in Perpignon for forensic analysis. Although no one
doubts the importance of conducting a methodical investigation,
many are dismayed at the delay in extracting information crucial to
determining the cause of the accident from the two recovered flight
Tim Burfoot, New Zealand's chief investigator from the Transport
Accident Investigation Commission, made clear the need to establish
the cause of the crash in a timely fashion to prevent its
repetition. Burfoot said, "It is important that we are able to draw
some lessons from this accident."
Coping with the painstakingly slow process, he said the European
investigators were "going through protocols to comply with French
law" before releasing the flight data recorders for analysis to
Honeywell, their manufacturer.
"If there's any information on them, Honeywell will have the
technology to get it," Burfoot said. "But if we can't get anything
off them, it will be a very drawn-out process of trying to piece
together information from the remains of the aircraft."
According to a report from the New Zealand Herald, an Air New
Zealand spokeswoman defended the ongoing investigative process,
saying that speculation was neither helpful nor comforting to those
involved. "The French authorities have spared no effort or expense,
and we fully acknowledge that they have a due process to go through
to determine the cause of the accident," she said.