An interesting take on the A320 (European Airbus) from a reader who knows his shit and investigated hundreds of crashes. Once you rfead this post you may never fly in an A320 again This is not only a dangerous plane, but accidents have gone unreported by our wonderful media.

(quote) A Brazilian Naval unit reportedly found the complete vertical fin/rudder assembly of the doomed aircraft floating some 30 miles from the main debris field. The search for the flight recorders goes on, but given the failure history of the vertical fins on A300-series aircraft, an analysis of its structure at the point of failure will likely yield the primary cause factor in the breakup of the aircraft, with the flight recorder data (if found) providing only secondary contributing phenomena. The fin-failure-leading-to-breakup sequence is strongly suggested in the attached (below) narrative report by George Larson, Editor emeritus of Smithsonian Air Space Magazine.

Here's a link to a detailed analysis. Letter continues: It's regrettable that these aircraft are permitted to continue in routine flight operations with this known structural defect. It appears that safety finishes last within Airbus Industries, behind national pride and economics. Hopefully, this accident will force the issue to be addressed, requiring at a minimum restricted operations of selected platforms, and grounding of some high-time aircraft until a re-engineered (strengthened) vertical fin/rudder attachment structure can be incorporated.>
-------------------------- (George Larson's Report)---------------------
This is an account of a discussion I had recently with a maintenance professional who salvages airliner airframes for a living. He has been at it for a while, dba BMI. Salvage at Opa Locka Airport in Florida. In the process of stripping parts, he sees things few others are able to see. His observations confirm prior assessments of Airbus structural deficiencies within our flight test and aero structures communities by those who have seen the closely held reports of A3XX-series vertical fin failures. His observations:

"I have scrapped just about every type of transport aircraft from A-310, A-320, B-747, 727, 737, 707, DC-3, 4, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, MD-80, L-188, L1011 and various Martin, Convair and KC-97 aircraft. Over a hundred of them. Airbus products are the flimsiest and most poorly designed as far as airframe structure is concerned by an almost obsession to utilize composite materials.

I have one A310 vertical fin on the premises from a demonstration I just performed. It was pathetic to see the composite structure shatter as it did, something a Boeing product will not do.

The vertical fin along with the composite hinges on rudder and elevators is the worst example of structural use of composites I have ever seen and I am not surprised by the current pictures of rescue crews recovering the complete Vertical fin and rudder assembly at some distance from the crash

The Airbus line has a history of both multiple rudder losses and a vertical fin and rudder separation from the airframe as was the case in NY with AA. As an old non-radar equipped DC4 pilot who flew through many a thunderstorm in Africa along the equator, I am quite familiar with their ferocity. It is not difficult to understand how such a storm might have stressed an aircraft structure to failure at its weakest point, and especially so in the presence of instrumentation problems.

I replied with this: "I'm watching very carefully the orchestration of the inquiry by French officials and Airbus. I think I can smell a concerted effort to steer discussion away from structural issues and onto sensors, etc. Now Air France, at the behest of their pilots' union, is replacing all the air data sensors on the Airbus fleet, which creates a distraction and shifts the media's focus away from the real problem. It's difficult to delve into the structural issue without wading into the Boeing vs. Airbus swamp, where any observation is instantly tainted by its origin. Americans noting any Airbus structural issues (A380 early failure of wing in static test; loss of vertical surfaces in Canadian fleet prior to AA A300, e.g.) will be attacked by the other side as partisan, biased, etc.

His follow-up:

One gets a really unique insight into structural issues when one has
first-hand experience in the dismantling process.

I am an A&P, FEJ and an ATP with 7000 flight hours and I was absolutely stunned, flabbergasted when I realized that the majority of internal airframe structural supports on the A 310 which appear to be aluminum are actually rolled composite material with aluminum rod ends. They shattered.

Three years ago we had a storm come through, with gusts up to 60-70 kts., removed shattered and the rudder and elevators came off.

Upon closer inspection I realized that not only were the rear spars
composite but so were the hinges. While Boeing also uses composite material in its airfoil structures, the actual attach fittings for the elevators, rudder, vertical and horizontal stabilizers are all of machined aluminum." -----------------


Anonymous said...

Sounds like the old Nevile Shute book - "No Highway in the Sky" - great movie with Jimmy Stewart and Marline Ditrich - which was partually based on the problems that the early BOAC Comets had.

Sgt. Joe Friday said...

If it's not Boeing, I ain't going.

fboness said...

So you have a plane made of plastic and built by the French. What could go wrong?

Anonymous said...

Every day Airbus seems to fine something new wrong with there planes. I know the Airline i work for have had a lot of problems with the A320 and are now looking at going back to boeings since they are the only safe planes out there. I wont even fly with the airline i work for between because of them using A320s

Anonymous said...

This just seems to be a Boeing Fan club giving out about Airbus. So we should all stop flying with Airbus then because they have more incidents than boeing(which they dont) or because there american.. oh and to this person who works on A320's, what company might that be?? cause i work in maintenance and let me tell you the airbus is a far safer aircraft.. You go on about Boeing having a better structure why then is there an SB for a 178 repair?? ie the forward bulk heads on 73's are cracking? We have alot of very big airlines coming into our hanger and not one of them will ever go back to boeing. even the 737's or 767's that come in the reps cant wait to change to airbus

adam said...

anonymous. There has " NEVER" been a catastrophic structural failure of a control surface eg.tail/rudder assembly which was caused by an overly excited rookie fly boy on any BOEING! A major issue in the euro bus clan is that of the composite material which airbus had developed decades ago.The formula isn't sound! Nor is the fastening devices which secure all control surfaces. Boeing had developed composites over forty years ago along with fly by w. Boeing found they needed more time to perfect the material, and they have as you can see on the 87 Dream. Once again the Europeans will sit back and wait for Boeing engineers to solve their idiotic mistakes as they have countless times before.

Anonymous said...

I agree, airbus planes should be banned from the sky and let the experts(boeing)take care of our flying, I know an aircraft engineer and he will not fly on anything made by Airbus as he says they are flimsy, So Airbus "for the sake of keeping people alive please stop building aircrafts and let boeing take us to our distination safely"

Steve UK

Anonymous said...


Good comment above Steve from the UK, spelling a bit poor but I completly aggree

Another Steve from the UK

Unknown said...

You want to know why because safety is the last thing those company think about its all about money wouldnt you buy something thats cheaper and can do the same as the more expensive 1 and why is it that when an airbus plane crash its always pilot error???? Think about it airbus has been accused of bribery so it wouldnt surprise me if they paid off investigators dont you find it strange that only the BEA investigates airbus crashes no matter where in the world???? And me personally wont fly airbus because of cockpit design a stupid joystick like a flight sim???? A pilot wouldnt able to see what his coleage is doing unless he looks at the instruments or looking over at the other pilots hand controling it on a boeing you actually see your controls moving left right back n forward even when the auto pilot is on and by the way i dont trust planes that can override the pilot