Transportation Safety Board of Canada

Transportation Safety Board of Canada

March 27, 2006 10:00 ET

The Transportation Safety Board of Canada Issues Safety Recommendations to Improve Rudder Inspections on Airbus Aircraft

GATINEAU, QUEBEC--(CCNMatthews - March 27, 2006) - The Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) today released two Aviation Safety Recommendations following the incident (A05F0047) in which an Airbus A310-300 lost its rudder after leaving Varadero, Cuba, for Quebec/Jean Lesage International Airport, Quebec, in March 2005.

As part of the ongoing investigation, information from post-occurrence fleet inspections suggests that the current inspection program for Airbus composite rudders might not ensure the timely detection of defects. Moreover, the recent discovery that delamination could grow undetected and the increasing age of the composite rudders suggest that increased attention is warranted.

The TSB is therefore recommending that the Department of Transport and the European Aviation Safety Agency, in coordination with other involved regulatory authorities and industry, urgently develop and implement an inspection program that will allow early and consistent detection of damage to the rudder assembly of aircraft equipped with this type of rudder.

The TSB investigation into this occurrence is ongoing and is being supported by the Bureau d'Enquetes et d'Analyses pour la Securite de l'Aviation Civile (BEA) of France, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) of the United States, and the Federal Bureau of Aircraft Accidents Investigation (BFU) of Germany. Technical advisors from Transport Canada, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Airbus, and Air Transat are also participating. The TSB's leading role in this investigation does not restrain foreign organizations from issuing their own recommendations regarding rudder inspection programs. The Board may also make further safety recommendations should additional safety deficiencies be identified.

On March 6, 2005, Air Transat Flight 961, an Airbus A310-300, departed Juan G. Gomez International Airport in Varadero for Quebec/Jean Lesage International Airport with 2 pilots, 7 flight attendants, and 262 passengers on board. While at an altitude of 35 000 feet, the flight crew heard a loud bang followed by vibrations that lasted a few seconds. The aircraft entered a repetitive rolling motion, known as dutch roll, which decreased as the aircraft descended to a lower altitude. After reaching an altitude of 19 000 feet, the flight crew had no indication of any abnormalities. The flight returned to Varadero and landed safely.

The TSB is an independent agency that investigates marine, pipeline, railway and aviation transportation occurrences. Its sole aim is the advancement of transportation safety. It is not the function of the Board to assign fault or determine civil or criminal liability.

This communique is available on the TSB Web site at

Contact Information

  • Transportation Safety Board of Canada
    John Cottreau
    Senior Media Relations Advisor
    (819) 994-8053
    Transportation Safety Board of Canada
    Christian Plouffe
    Media Relations Advisor
    (819) 953-7812