Aviation news release 2007

TSB # A03/2007

THE TRANSPORTATION SAFETY BOARD OF CANADA RECOMMENDS MORE DETAILED INSPECTION PROGRAMS TO DETECT DAMAGE TO THE RUDDER ASSEMBLY OF AIRCRAFT EQUIPPED WITH PART NUMBER A55471500 SERIES RUDDERS

(Gatineau, Quebec, November 22, 2007) - The Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) today released its final report (A05F0047) into the Air Transat loss of rudder incident that occurred on March 6, 2005.

The TSB investigation found that the aircraft took off from Varadero, Cuba, most probably with pre-existing damage to the rudder. The separation of the rudder from the aircraft together with the findings of the investigation determined that inspection programs for this model of composite rudder are not adequate for the timely detection of defects. The consequences of a rudder separation include reduced directional control and possible separation of the vertical tail plane.

In March 2006, the Board made two recommendations. The first recommendation called on the Department of Transport to urgently develop and implement an inspection program that would allow early detection of damage to the particular rudder (A06-05). The second recommendation (A06-06), a repetition of the first, was made to the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), the certification authority for Airbus products. If the TSB recommendations are adopted, such action will allow early and consistent detection of damage to the rudder assembly of aircraft equipped with part number A55471500 series rudders.

On June 14, 2006, Transport Canada (TC) responded to TSB Recommendation A06-05. TC concurs with the TSB recommendation and has indicated that corrective actions will be taken.

Responses from EASA on December 20, 2006 and January 17, 2007 reflect EASA's commitment to develop corrective actions that may include amending the maintenance program to require repetitive checks.

On March 6, 2005 at 06:45 a.m. (Greenwich mean time), Air Transat Flight 961, left Varadero for Québec, Quebec, and encountered stability problems 17 minutes after take-off. The aircraft, an Airbus A310, was cleared to a lower altitude and stabilized. Because the company had maintenance facilities in Varadero, the crew requested a return to that locale and successfully landed. Upon landing, it was observed that the rudder had separated from the aircraft. It had 262 passengers and 9 crew members on board.

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.

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The public report, A05F0047 and backgrounder are also available on this site.


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.

For more information, contact:
Transportation Safety Board of Canada
Media Relations
Telephone: 819-994-8053
Email: media@tsb.gc.ca