Airbus crash report points to human error

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The Independent Online
AN INTERIM report by French authorities into the crash last month of an Airbus A330 test jet in which seven people died appears to point to human error as the cause of the accident.

The airliner crashed on 1 July, on a test flight to certify it for extremely low visibility, category three, landings using Pratt & Whitney engines made in the US. The engine- aircraft combination had already been officially approved for low visibility, category two, landings.

The commission report said that among the probable major causes of the crash were the auto-pilot altitude setting being left too low, the wrong engine thrust used at take-off, and manoeuvres which placed the aircraft's nose at a dangerously acute angle. Airbus's chief test pilot, Nick Warner, 51, was killed in the crash with four other Airbus employees and two pilots from Italy's Alitalia airline.

The inquiry commission said in its report published yesterday: 'It appears that there was no failure of the aircraft, its motors, or its equipment which would have contributed to the accident.'

The report said Mr Warner, who had 7,713 hours of flying experience, 345 on A330s, was slow to respond to an abnormal situation. Flight engineer Jean-Pierre Petit was criticised for reacting slowly to the loss of speed.

The trial consisted of putting the aircraft into a steep climb at low speed after take-off, simulating an engine failure and cutting off a hydraulic circuit.

The report recommended Airbus should reconsider its categories of test flights and who should be permitted on board. An Airbus spokeswoman said it had already taken up the recommendations and implemented them.