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Pilots Oppose Grounding Airbus Jets

05 April 2002

The union representing American Airlines pilots says there is not enough evidence to ground the Airbus model that crashed in New York last November after its tail fell off the plane.

The Allied Pilots Association said it was concerned about the accident, but disagreed with eight American pilots who asked the federal government to consider grounding the Airbus A300-600. American Airlines and Airbus Industrie say the plane is safe. The Federal Aviation Administration has ordered new inspections of the plane but has not grounded it.

American Flight 587 experienced several sharp side-to-side movements before its tail fell off and the plane crashed shortly after taking off from Kennedy Airport. The FAA earlier this month ordered inspections of A300-600 and A310 planes that experience similar movements. Union representatives are helping the safety board investigate the Nov. 12 crash, which killed 265 people. The union asked for an FAA review of the procedures by which it certifies airplanes as safe to fly, for new procedures to test nonmetallic composites for damage, for new studies of turbulence caused by planes taking off, and for its pilots to report all incidents of moderate or severe turbulence and cases where the rudder moved by itself.

``The union's leadership still has serious concerns about the events surrounding the A-300 accident,'' the group said in a statement. ``That noted, the association currently believes there is insufficient evidence to recommend that AA ground the A-300s.'' The union issued its statement after hearing a presentation from the pilots and receiving a copy of their two-month study.

In the report, which was submitted to the FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board, the eight American pilots concluded: ``Serious consideration must be given to grounding the entire A300-600 fleet until its airworthiness can be assured.''





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