The Airbus A321neo Has An Excessive Pitch Problem

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Yesterday morning, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) alerted A321neo operators that there is potential for an “excessive pitch” anomaly.  Airbus is introducing a temporary revision to its A321neo flight manuals that would prevent the aircraft from reaching excessive pitch attitudes. “Excessive pitch” is the issue that plagued the 737 MAX and is what led Boeing to install its MCAS on the type.

The A321neo has a range of 7,400km. Photo: BriYYZ Flickr

This revision is the result of analysis of the elevator and aileron computer on the A321neo. Airbus has yet to elaborate on the situation except for stating that “excessive” pitch could occur under certain conditions and “during specific maneuvers.”

FlightGlobal reports that the EASA has ordered A321neo operators to amend their flight manuals accordingly, within 30 days of when the alert was issued. In fact, the order will cover both the CFM International Leap-1A as well as Pratt & Whitney PW1100G versions of the aircraft.

Should you worry?

According to an article by AirInsight, the Airbus with its existing fly-by-wire system being more extensive than those on the 737MAX, can remain in safe operation following the procedure. View from the Wing and other sources are saying that it is still unknown whether a software modification will be needed for the A321neo.

With the 737 MAX and its fundamental design issues in the aviation industry’s spotlight, it’s a safe bet that Airbus will carry out its due diligence to make sure its aircraft are safe to fly.

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A321neo test-bed on a low gears-up departure from Toulouse. Photo: Wikipedia

A321neo operators

According to Wikipedia, here is a list of some of the notable A321neo operators and the number of aircraft they currently have (at the time of writing this article):

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Lastly, Virgin America was the first airline to take delivery of the aircraft type in May of 2017. However, the airline was acquired by Alaska Airlines in 2016 and thus flew its final flight in the Spring of 2018. The A321neos are now flying with Alaska Airlines.

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American Airlines has a total order of 70 Airbus A321neo jets. Photo: American Airlines.

Conclusion

As mentioned above, the aircraft type has been flying since 2017 with its first delivery going to Virgin America (now Alaska Airlines). Therefore, it’s been flying for two years now without a serious incident. We should note, however, that the 737 MAX also entered service in May of 2017. Perhaps, then, it depends on whether you see the glass half-empty or half-full as entry into service was at a similar time.

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Of course, Boeing and Airbus aircraft fly quite differently. Therefore, despite the fact that “excessive pitch” is a common problem, the solution may be very different.

Does this news worry you at all? Or does Airbus have this under control? Let us know by leaving a comment!

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