Aircraft First of Two Being Voluntarily Inspected by American
TULSA, Okla. - American Airlines today announced the first of two Airbus A300 vertical stabilizers or tails being voluntarily inspected by the carrier using a new ultrasonic protocol revealed no findings.
The airline selected the two aircraft in consultation with Airbus and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) after records showed these planes had experienced the next highest lateral air loads after the A300 (N070) involved in the previously reported May 1997 turbulence event. While the lateral air loads these aircraft experienced were nowhere near the loads placed on that aircraft, American, Airbus and the FAA felt they were the logical choice for the voluntary inspections.
“The lack of findings is consistent with our expectations,” said Dan Huffman, American`s senior vice president, maintenance and engineering. “Airbus has said that the only aircraft in American`s fleet that clearly warranted this special inspection was N070. When they shared that information, we immediately pulled that aircraft from service and conducted the special inspection.”
A Feb. 8 safety recommendation made by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) prompted Airbus to review flight data recorder records on all A300 aircraft that may have encountered stress similar to that experienced by Flight 587, the airplane lost on Nov. 12, 2001 on Long Island. The NTSB has not reached any conclusions about the probable cause of the Flight 587 accident.
American voluntarily chose to inspect two additional aircraft after an ultrasonic inspection on N070 revealed some minor delamination to one of six attachment points, or lugs, on the vertical stabilizer. The tail on that aircraft is being replaced so that Airbus can gain additional insight into the behavior of these components in extreme operating conditions.
With the inspection on this aircraft now complete, American will immediately inspect the other aircraft with inspection results expected early next week. That aircraft has already been removed from revenue service and is at the Tulsa maintenance base.
If that inspection reveals no findings as expected, American will return these aircraft to service after a scheduled maintenance base visit.
As has been the case throughout the investigation, the investigative parties, including governmental agencies, continue to support the airworthiness of the A300.
American currently operates a fleet of 34 A300s, representing less than 4 percent of its fleet. The aircraft operate along the Eastern seaboard and in the Northern Latin America market.