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Swiss replaces probes used on doomed flight

Swiss International Air Lines says it will replace sensors on aircraft that use the same probes as one that may have malfunctioned on the Air France flight that crashed.

This content was published on June 9, 2009 - 17:08

Investigators speculate that a so-called pitot tube on the Airbus that crashed last week off the coast of Brazil may have frozen in a storm, causing the critical sensor to relay misleading information to the pilots.

Swiss said on Tuesday that it would voluntarily replace the tubes on its eight Airbus A330-200 aircraft. Aviation authorities have not demanded their replacement.

For the past ten years Swiss has used the same sensor model as the one found on the Air France jet that disappeared from radar screens on June 1. With one exception, Swiss has reported no technical problems with the probe.

The pitot tube relies on air-pressure differences to calculate an plane's air speed. They are typically heated to avoid ice build-up, which could lead to incorrect speed readings and manoeuvres too fast for the aeroplane to handle.

That may have happened to Austral flight 2553, which crashed in 1997 in Uruguay, killing all 74 passengers and crew.

swissinfo.ch with agencies

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