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Airbus denies considering grounding its A330, A340 fleet

Video by Owen FAIRCLOUGH

Text by FRANCE 24 (with wires)

Latest update : 2009-06-11

A French daily reported on Wednesday that Airbus was considering grounding all its A330s and A340 planes following the crash of an Air France flight in the Atlantic Ocean last week.

Airbus on Thursday denied a press report that it was considering grounding all long-haul A330 and A340 jets to change airspeed monitors more than a week after an Air France plane plunged into the Atlantic Ocean with 228 people on board.

The French newspaper Le Figaro said in its Thursday edition that the aircraft manufacturer "does not rule out grounding its fleet of 1,000 A330s and A340s to change the (speed) sensors."


The Figaro article alleges that the recovery of large portions of the crashed A330 jet could indicate that the plane broke apart mid-flight following the malfunction of its three airspeed monitors known as “pitot probes”.


In its final minutes on June 1, the doomed plane sent 24 automated messages, detailing a rapid series of systems failures.


According to “good sources at the Airbus headquarters” quoted by the Figaro, Airbus would ground its A330 and A340 fleet if the French office in charge of the Air France investigation finds anything wrong with them.


An Airbus spokesman denied it was considering grounding the planes, telling AFP: "This is wrong."


Airbus has written to clients to assure them its A330 planes were safe, including those with older speed sensors seen as a possible cause for last week's Air France crash, a spokeswoman said on Wednesday.

Nuclear sub starts black box search


Meanwhile, a French nuclear submarine with advanced sonar equipment began scouring the icy ocean depths on Wednesday for the flight recorders that might help explain the disaster.

The Emeraude was sent to the area to hunt for the "black box" recorders which are programmed to emit a homing signal for 30 days after a plane crash.

French military spokesman Christophe Prazuck said the Emeraude was searching an area of 36 square kilometres and the search zone would change daily. If the recorders are found, miniature submarines from the Pourquoi Pas, a French exploration and survey ship, could be used to retrieve them.


41 bodies recovered


On Wednesday, a Hercules plane carrying the first bodies recovered from the wreckage landed in the Brazilian city of Recife for identification, FRANCE 24’s Pierre-Ludovic Viollat reported from Brazil.


A flotilla of five Brazilian navy ships and a French frigate have already recovered 41 bodies, which are to be identified on the Brazilian mainland using dental records and DNA tests.

That search and recovery part of the operation headed by Brazil was to continue to at least June 19, air force spokesman Brigadier Ramon Cardoso told reporters in Recife. No bodies however were found on Wednesday, said Cardoso, adding that visibility had been poor in the search areas.


Brazil, meanwhile, said it was determined to bring back to shore as many bodies and pieces of debris as possible from the crash zone.


Date created : 2009-06-11