2002-03-23 / Front Page

AA: No Problem With Airbus Tails

By Howard Schwach

By Howard Schwach

American Airlines has reportedly completed its inspections of the tails of two of its Airbus A300-600 aircraft and has said that it found no damage on the connections between the fuselage and the tail on either of the planes.

The ultrasound inspection, far from a routine procedure, was prompted by the flight 587 crash investigation.

Investigators wanted the tail sections check on any aircraft that had experienced "severe turbulence or other incidents that stressed the tail."

The Federal Aviation Agency (FAA) had identified six aircraft worldwide that fit that description.

The inspections occurred after investigators took a closer look at another American Airlines Airbus that had been involved in a Miami incident that put stresses on its tail similar to the ones that were experienced by flight 587, which lost its tail in Jamaica Bay and then crashed into Belle Harbor last November 12. Upon checking that aircraft’s tail, they found small damage to the composite material that makes up the tail section. It was then that the FAA began a search to find aircraft that had been similarly stressed.

FAA spokesman Les Dorr told reporters that the inspections were a fact-finding mission, and the results could lead to even more inspections involving other types of aircraft.

"It is too early in the data-gathering game to tell what these findings mean," he said. "We’re going to have to see what it shows, where we go from here."

The two American Airlines jets were the only two passenger jets flown by American carriers of the six chosen for inspection. One of the others is flown by Federal Express. The other three are flown by foreign airlines. American Airlines is the largest user of the Airbus 300-600, using 34 of them, mostly on South and Central American runs.

Federal Express has reportedly not yet completed its inspection.

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