Ramifications for AA587?

the American Airlines A300-600 crash in Queens

Saturday March 25, 2006
Reuters

The Transportation Safety Board of Canada Will Issue Safety Recommendations to Improve Rudder Inspections on Airbus Aircraft

GATINEAU, QUEBEC--(CCNMatthews - March 24, 2006) - The Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) will release on March 27, 2006, Aviation Safety Recommendations following the incident (A05F0047) in which an Airbus A310-300 lost its rudder after leaving Varadero, Cuba, for Quebec/Jean Lesage International Airport, Quebec, in March 2005.

When: March 27, 2006, starting at 10:00 a.m. (eastern standard time)

The TSB is an independent agency that investigates marine, pipeline, railway and aviation transportation occurrences. Its sole aim is the advancement of transportation safety. It is not the function of the Board to assign fault or determine civil or criminal liability.

1.  from this link

2.  NTSB Letter A06-27 & A06-28 of 24 Mar 2006

C-GPAT Air Transat flt 961 [an Airbus A310]  lost its rudder during cruise flight on 07 March 2005. It sat finless at Cuba's Varadero Airport while the investigation continued.

For Complete Story and Graphics see this link

US NTSB Urges Airbus A300 Rudder Checks
US safety investigators issued an urgent recommendation on Friday for new rudder inspections on Airbus A300-600 jets.

The National Transportation Safety Board recommendation to the Federal Aviation Administration covers the A300-600, a wide body jet used in passenger and cargo service with around 400 models estimated in service worldwide.

The recommendation for checks of the rudder's composite skin stemmed from an inspection of a FedEx A300-600 rudder after it was damaged during maintenance last November.

"The board noted that this incident might have applicability to a more serious rudder separation that occurred last year," investigators said.

"The board believes that this urgent recommendation, if acted upon quickly, will go a long way to prevent a catastrophic failure of the rudder," said Mark Rosenker, the acting safety board chairman.

Airbus notified airlines three weeks ago of potential problems with the rudder's inner skin and urged inspections within six months or 500 flights. But the safety board wants the checks immediately and wants the FAA to make them mandatory.

In addition to FedEx, American Airlines also flies the A300 series. An American A300-600 crashed in New York in November 2001, killing 265 people, after its tail fin snapped off.

Investigators mainly centered on the pilot's aggressive rudder use in that crash and rudder system design. But a good part of the probe focused on the durability of composites and other materials used in construction of the tail fin. No problems were found.

A rudder is a vertical panel on the back edge of the tail fin that swings from side to side to help maintain lateral control of an aircraft.

C-GPAT Air Transat flt 961 [an Airbus A310]  lost its rudder during cruise flight on 07 March 2005. It sat finless at Cuba's Varadero Airport while the investigation continued. For Complete Story and Graphics see this link
NTSB Recommends A300 Rudder Inspections

After FedEx, Air Transat Incidents

Recommendation Affects Approximately 400 Airbus Planes On Friday, the National Transportation Safety Board urged the Federal Aviation Administration to order inspections of the inner skin of the composite rudder surfaces of certain Airbus A300 series airplanes.

The safety recommendations -- one of which is classified as urgent by the Safety Board -- address a safety issue identified during the investigation of damage found during an inspection of a rudder from a Federal Express A300-600 airplane last November. The Board noted that this incident might have applicability to a more serious rudder separation that occurred last year, involving a passenger airliner.

"The Board believes that this urgent recommendation, if acted upon quickly, will go a long way to prevent a catastrophic failure of the rudder," NTSB Acting Chairman Mark V. Rosenker said.

On March 6, 2005, an Airbus A310-300, operated by Air Transat as flight 961, experienced an in-flight separation of its rudder shortly after departure from Juan G. Gomez International Airport in Varadero, Cuba. The flight returned to Varadero, where it landed uneventfully. Upon landing, the crew discovered that most of the airplane's rudder had separated in flight with only the bottom closing rib and the spar between the rib and the hydraulic actuators remaining.

Following the Air Transat accident -- which is being investigated by Canada with the assistance of the NTSB -- Airbus issued a mandatory All Operator Telex (AOT) A300-55A6035 specifying a one-time rudder inspection for all A-300 series airplanes equipped with premodification 8827 or 40904 rudders.

On March 28, 2005, the FAA issued Airworthiness Directive (AD) 2005-07, requiring operators to perform the inspections specified in the AOT.

American Airlines and Federal Express (the only U.S. operators of these airplanes) complied with the AD.

On November 27, 2005, the rudder on an Airbus A300-600 airplane operated by Federal Express was damaged during routine maintenance. To assess the extent of the damage, the rudder was shipped to the manufacturer's facility and examined. In addition to the damage that occurred during maintenance, the examination found a substantial area of disbonding between the inner skin of the composite rudder surface and the honeycomb core, which is located between two composite skins.

Further examination of the disbonded area revealed traces of hydraulic fluid. Hydraulic fluid contamination between the honeycomb skin and the fiberglass composite skin can lead to progressive disbonding, which compromises the strength of the rudder. Tests on the damaged rudder also revealed that disbonding damage could spread during flight.

 The investigation found that the areas specified in the AOT did not include the areas in which the disbonds were found on the incident rudder. Further, it was determined that tap tests on the external surfaces of the rudder likely would not have disclosed the disbonding of an internal surface.

On March 2, 2006 Airbus issued AOTs notifying operators of applicable A300 series airplanes that large disbonds between the rudder's inner skin and the honeycomb core could go undetected, and providing guidance for inspecting the rudders. The Safety Board is recommending a more stringent compliance time than specified in the AOT and also requesting that FAA make the inspections mandatory.

More recent examinations have disclosed that hydraulic fluid can exist along the edges of the rudder's inner surface along with an accompanying area of substantial disbonding and that the inspection specified in the AOTs cannot detect the presence of the hydraulic fluid or the disbonding along the edges.

Therefore, the Safety Board is recommending that the FAA require that all operators of Airbus A-300 series airplanes immediately (possibly before further flight) comply with four Airbus All Operators Telexes dated March 2, 2006. Any disbonding to the rudder skins that occurs in the presence of hydraulic fluid contamination should be repaired or the rudder should be replaced as soon as possible, well before the 2, 500 flights specified in the AOTs. (A-06-27) This is an urgent recommendation.

The NTSB further recommended that the FAA establish a repetitive inspection interval for Airbus premodification 8827 rudders until a terminating action is developed. The interval should be well below 2,500 flights. (A-06-28)

It is estimated that these recommendations concern about 400 aircraft in Airbus's worldwide fleet.

 Read The Recommendation Letter:

http://www.ntsb.gov/recs/letters/2006/A06_27_28.pdf

TSB # A04/2006

THE TRANSPORTATION SAFETY BOARD OF CANADA ISSUES SAFETY RECOMMENDATIONS TO IMPROVE RUDDER INSPECTIONS ON AIRBUS AIRCRAFT

(Gatineau, Quebec, March 27, 2006) - The Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) today released two Aviation Safety Recommendations following the incident (A05F0047) in which an Airbus A310-300 lost its rudder after leaving Varadero, Cuba, for Québec/Jean Lesage International Airport, Quebec, in March 2005.

As part of the ongoing investigation, information from post-occurrence fleet inspections suggests that the current inspection program for Airbus composite rudders might not ensure the timely detection of defects. Moreover, the recent discovery that delamination could grow undetected and the increasing age of the composite rudders suggest that increased attention is warranted.

The TSB is therefore recommending that the Department of Transport and the European Aviation Safety Agency, in coordination with other involved regulatory authorities and industry, urgently develop and implement an inspection program that will allow early and consistent detection of damage to the rudder assembly of aircraft equipped with this type of rudder.

The TSB investigation into this occurrence is ongoing and is being supported by the Bureau d'Enquêtes et d'Analyses pour la Sécurité de l'Aviation Civile (BEA) of France, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) of the United States, and the Federal Bureau of Aircraft Accidents Investigation (BFU) of Germany. Technical advisors from Transport Canada, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Airbus, and Air Transat are also participating. The TSB's leading role in this investigation does not restrain foreign organizations from issuing their own recommendations regarding rudder inspection programs. The Board may also make further safety recommendations should additional safety deficiencies be identified.

On March 6, 2005, Air Transat Flight 961, an Airbus A310-300, departed Juan G. Gomez International Airport in Varadero for Québec/Jean Lesage International Airport with 2 pilots, 7 flight attendants, and 262 passengers on board. While at an altitude of 35 000 feet, the flight crew heard a loud bang followed by vibrations that lasted a few seconds. The aircraft entered a repetitive rolling motion, known as dutch roll, which decreased as the aircraft descended to a lower altitude. After reaching an altitude of 19 000 feet, the flight crew had no indication of any abnormalities. The flight returned to Varadero and landed safely.

The TSB is an independent agency that investigates marine, pipeline, railway and aviation transportation occurrences. Its sole aim is the advancement of transportation safety. It is not the function of the Board to assign fault or determine civil or criminal liability.

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Aviation Safety Recommendations A06-05 and A06-06 are also available on this site. (from link)

Updated: 2006-03-27