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Thursday, September 17, 2009

Airbus aware of sensor woes since '02

PARIS — Airbus has known since at least 2002 about problems with the type of speed sensor that malfunctioned on an Air France jetliner that went down in June over the Atlantic Ocean, The Associated Press has learned. But air-safety authorities did not order their replacement until after the crash, which killed all 228 people aboard.

The sensors — known as Pitots — are vulnerable to blockage from water and icing. Experts have suggested that Flight 447's sensors, made by French company Thales SA, may have iced over and sent false speed information to the computers as the plane ran into a thunderstorm at about 35,000 feet while en route from Rio de Janeiro to Paris.

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