Saturday, 10 September 2011


10 years on from the loss of an American Airlines Airbus A300 following vertical fin detachment due to excessive rudder inputs (specifically almost full travel reversal) beyond the ultimate design load, EASA has announced that it will require installation of a new aural warning "stop rudder inputs" on 300-600 and 310 aircraft. It turns out that it was not the actual accident that triggered this action but a 4 year survey of pilots to determine the underlying understanding of rudder use in upset recovery, results of which were published last year. Operators will have 4 years to comply.

This means that for up to 13 years we may continue to operate without any change in the wake of a known technical issue coupled with known pilot training/knowledge deficiencies. For a high tech industry like ours that seems a long time... Surely this was an opportunity to gather huge amounts of deidentified flight data from operators to analyse the frequency and likelihood of excessive rudder inputs. With the technology available couldn't the rudder travel limiter logic be adjusted to take care of the problem rather than adding yet another aural warning?

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