Using Pilots To Break Jetliners...

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Flight 587: Airbus Control System Scrutinized...

While the NTSB has yet to issue its final report on why American Airlines Flight 587 crashed in New York in November 2001 after its vertical tail surface broke off, killing 265 people, the board recently released a report by an aeronautical engineer that suggests the design of the Airbus A300-600's flight-control system could have played a role in the accident. The report, by Prof. Ronald Hess of the University of California at Davis, focuses on whether pilot-induced oscillations (PIOs), resulting from control-system characteristics, could have been a factor in the crash. Hess cites examples to show that the control sensitivity of an aircraft can have a direct impact on the extent to which it is prone to PIOs. He also notes that the term "pilot-induced oscillation" can be misleading -- PIOs are not the result of poor piloting skills, but result from control-system characteristics. If the NTSB cites the jet's design in its findings, it could affect the legal battle between American and Airbus over which company should pay damages in lawsuits filed by victims' families, USA Today said on Thursday.