It’s not been an easy few weeks for Thales’s pitot tube activities, but the company isn’t ready to walk away from the business.
In the wake of the crash of Air France Flight 447 – where anomalous speed indications drew a lot of attention to a potential pitot tube problem – there were numerous disclosures of other incidents of the speed probe icing.
There has still not been any indication the Thales pitot tubes had anything to do with the crash of the Airbus A330-200 flying from Rio de Janeiro to Paris the night of May 31 to June 1, but the ensuing period nevertheless led safety officials to recommend replacement not just of the older “AA” standard of Thales pitot tubes with the newer “BA” version, but also that Airbus widebodies had to have at least two Goodrich standard pitot tubes. The “BA” standard is still acceptable on Airbus narrowbodies.
Thales, for some time, had ducked pitot tube questions, but this week Pierre-Eric Pommellet, Senior Vice President in charge of aerospace businesses at Thales addressed the issue, saying he hoped that Thales could remain in the pitot tube business.
Asked whether the company is working on a new speed probe configuration, now that safety authorities have limited the customer-base for the “BA” standard, Pommellet said no.
French safety officials, in the next interim report the BEA will issue on investigation into the crash of AF447, plan to delve into the other incidents where there were reports of anomalous speed information -- the NTSB also is looking at such incidents. The next BEA report is due in December.