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The FAA Issues AD Warning 787 Pilots Of Erroneous Airspeed Indications

March 31, 2016 - The FAA has issued an airworthiness directive (AD) for all The Boeing 787-8 and 787-9 airplanes. The AD requires the owners of these aircraft to revise the airplane flight manual (AFM) to instruct flight crews to avoid abrupt flight control inputs in response to sudden drops in airspeed, and to reinforce the need to disconnect the autopilot before making any manual flight control inputs.

The AD was prompted by reports indicating that in certain weather conditions with high moisture content or possible icing, erroneous low airspeed may be displayed to the flight crew before detection and annunciation via engine-indicating and crew-alerting system (EICAS) messages.

The reported the anomalous behavior is consistent with significant water ingestion or simultaneous icing of two or three of the three pitot probes. The FAA has received three reports of in-service displayed airspeed anomalies on Model 787 airplanes. During each of the reported events, the displayed airspeed rapidly dropped significantly below the actual airplane airspeed. In normal operations, the air data reference system supplies the same airspeed to both the captain and first officer primary flight displays.

During one in-service event, with autopilot engaged, the pilot overrode the engaged autopilot in response to the displayed erroneous low airspeed and made significant nose-down manual control inputs. In this situation, there is the potential for large pilot control inputs at high actual airspeed, which could cause the airplane to exceed its structural capability.

The FAA is issuing this AD because they have evaluated all the relevant information and determined the unsafe condition described is likely to exist or develop in other aircraft of the same type design. The FAA will continue to investigate this issue with Boeing. This AD requires revising the AFM to add a ''Non-normal Procedure'' for ''Airspeed Drop'' that instructs the flight crew to avoid abrupt flight control inputs, and reinforces the need to disconnect the autopilot prior to making any manual flight control inputs.



The FAA considers this AD interim action. Boeing is currently developing modifications to the display and crew alerting system, flight control system, and air data system that will address the unsafe condition identified in this AD. Once these modifications are developed, approved, and available, the FAA will consider additional rulemaking. An unsafe condition exists that requires the immediate adoption of this AD. The FAA has found that the risk to the flying public justifies waiving notice and comment prior to adoption of this rule because large, abrupt pilot control inputs in response to an unrealistic, sudden drop in displayed airspeed at high actual airspeed could exceed the structural capability of the airplane. This AD is effective April 14, 2016.

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