AIR FRANCE 447

Report blames Rio-Paris crash on faulty speed probes

Defective speed probes were responsible for the crash of Air France flight 447 over the Atlantic while it was en route from Rio de Janeiro to Paris, a report by an Air France pilots' union - due to be handed to investigators this week - concludes.

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AFP - An Air France pilots' union will present a report to investigators this week blaming defective air speed probes for the crash of Air France Flight 447 over the Atlantic, a newspaper reported Sunday.

The pilots' report contradicts the findings of the French agency leading the investigation, the BEA, which has said that the speed monitors were a factor, but not the leading cause of the crash that left 228 people dead on June 1.

The union points the guilty finger to the plane's manufacturer Airbus, Air France, civil aviation authorities and the European Aviation Safety Agency among others for under-estimating the problems with the sensors.

The report argues that all of them knew of problems with the pitot tubes over the past 14 years and that, had they moved to correct them, the crash "would have probably been avoided", the Journal du Dimanche reported.

Air France Flight 447 was flying from Rio de Janeiro to Paris during stormy weather when it crashed into a remote area of the Atlantic, about 1,000 kilometres (600 miles) off Brazil's coast.

Just before dropping off radar screens it had emitted a series of automatic warning signals indicating systems failures.

The Airbus A330's black box flight recorders have not been found, but French investigators said in a report that the faulty speed sensors were not the only explanation for the accident.

"Such an event cannot be reduced to a single cause," said Gerard Arnoux, president of the Spaf pilots' union.

"But there is an unchallengeable truth that we must insist on: without the breakdown of the pitot tubes, the accident wouldn't have happened," Arnoux told the newspaper.

The crash was the worst in Air France's 75-year history.

Both the European air safety agency and Airbus advised airlines after the disaster to replace the type of pitot tubes used on the doomed jet with a more reliable model made by a US firm.

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