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Home > Fear of Flying > I am worried about radio signals interfering with Airbus flight controls
I am worried about radio signals interfering with Airbus flight controls
Flying - Fear of Flying
Friday, 26 October 2012 16:25

Qantas A330 Emergency Landing at Perth

Dear Capt. Lim,

Your website is fantastic and provides lots of good information.

I am due to fly from Singapore to Perth on a Qantas A330.

I am quite worried as I have read reports of Flight 72 and of another plane that suffered problems on this route flying past Learmonth airbase.

Is there any worry in the radio signals interfearing with the Airbus controls?

I am very worried and thinking of cancelling my trip.

All the best


Hi James,

The source of all the problems in Qantas Flight 72 and a few other such incidents was due to the ‘ADIRU’ or air data inertial reference unit, one of the major components that supplies very important information to the pilot in order for him to fly the plane safely. Such vital information includes airspeed, pitch (heading up or down), altitude, position, etc. The computers, as well as the autopilot make use of these information. If the information is incorrect, then it may affect the controllability of the plane. Although there are redundancies, the pilot is the last defence except probably in the Air France 447 crash (the ADIRU failure was due to icing) where it was attributed to pilot error.

To be exact, not only two flights with ADIRU problem occurred on the route to Perth or out of it. A Boeing 777 in 2005 also experienced the same problem (see the video below - aircraft went to the over speed and stall speed limit simultaneously. It pitched up and climbed to approximately 41000 feet and the indicated airspeed decreased from 270 knots to 158 knots. The stall warning and stick shaker devices were also activated)

There were allegations that perhaps the huge Harold E Holt radio communication and transmission facility near to Learmonth (Exmouth) may be the culprit. If so, other ADIRU failures have also occurred elsewhere or further away. One was an Alitalia A320 on approaching London Heathrow, another Qantas flight from Hong Kong to Perth - 530 miles north of Learmonth and a Jetstar flight from Sydney to Ho Chi Minh.

Meanwhile Qantas has changed its maintenance procedures to ensure ADIRU faults are quickly isolated and corrected.

A spokesman for the Qantas pilots union has endorsed the action taken by Airbus and Qantas in improving the ADIRU maintenance and said the association did not believe the aircraft was unsafe. "We've got faith in the aircraft because of the amount of operations it does worldwide and (because) they have multiple redundancies,"

In my opinion, the radio signal from the Harold E Holt facility is an unlikely cause of the ADIRU problem. I have therefore no hesitation flying on the Singapore - Perth route anytime!

PS. To check for any latest updates or postings, you can follow my new Twitter at @CaptKHLim

Qantas Flight 72

Pitch Up Boeing 777 Incident


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this does not fill me with confidence....i think i shall cancel my trip
james , 29 Oct, 2012
It is not just stupid that due to the icing of the Pitot tubes an aircraft can crash. All of this so called high technology just cannot bypass eventually unfortunates events.like this ADIRu which just cannot manage the icing and cannot "fly" the plane using SOG only from the GPS. Of course, the dead pilot's fault.
And sorry for the off topic. I just hate those "big and famous companies" which are putting us like sardines into their airplanes.
aj , 29 Nov, 2012

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