Billy Beck notes the Caribbean, Air Transat flight 961 story and wonders why he hadn’t heard of the week-old story.

Some background, before I start flaying things….

At 35,000 feet above the Caribbean, Air Transat flight 961 was heading home to Quebec with 270 passengers and crew. At 3.45 pm last Sunday, the pilot noticed something very unusual. His Airbus A310’s rudder – a structure 28 feet high – had fallen off and tumbled into the sea. In the world of aviation, the shock waves have yet to subside.

Mercifully, the crew was able to turn the plane around, and by steering it with their wing and tail flaps managed to land at their point of departure in Varadero, Cuba, without loss of life. But as Canadian investigators try to discover what caused this near catastrophe, the specialist internet bulletin boards used by pilots, accident investigators and engineers are buzzing.

No kidding; the Usenet areas in particular are simply mad with it. But some things which are not showing up in the mainstream US press about it, have apparently started showing up elsewhere.

From what I’ve been able to put together from various reports around the world, here’s the facts;

The Airbus A-310 was about a half-hour into it’s four hour flight between Varadero, Cuba and Quebec City when the rudder fell off. The response was a sudden loss of altitude via a steep dive. The pilot did manage to get things under control, however, and once he got things righted, started looking around for a place to put down.

The pilot’s first response, because the plane was now in American airspace, was to radio for permission to land at Fort Lauderdale International which was at that point the nearest major airport. Air controllers countered with an offer at Miami. Reasoning given was that there were no customs officials on duty in Fort Lauderdale at that point.

The FAA says that at this point, the pilot opted to return to Cuba. Now, it should be noted that had the pilot declared an emergency, he could have put down anywhere he wanted to. Thing is, such an emergency was never declared, and the reports I’ve seen of the radio exchanges, and some reports from Quebec, it was the pilot’s choice to return to Cuba. Apparently, what didn’t make it to the air controller’s tapes was the conversation between the pilot and Air Transat’s ownership, wherein, we’re told the choice to go back to Cuba was made.

But watch this; What was told the passengers, was that the US had refused to allow an emergency landing. I’ve seen reports in the frankophone press to this effect several times in the last week since this story came up. The reason given to the passengers and the press of course was the trade Embargo against Cuba.

Again, however. an emergency was never declared.

So, let’s see, here.

We have an EU made Airbus, whose makers don’t really want this info out, given the long standing suspicions about Airbus’s culpability from a November 2001 crash, where 265 people died on American Airlines flight 587… in another rudder incident. (The pilots were blamed in that one, if you will recall) Then there’s the report of the non-fatal crashes which were amazingly similar.

Then we have Canada whose rather vicious cycle of lies of late would made the Clintons blanch; and the world-wide left still ticked off that we have an embargo against the socialist worker’s paradise.

I can see why it’d take a week for this story to break; It’d take ’em that long to figure out how to spin it.

It’s become clear, though that the 310 is an accident waiting to happen… And the EU and it’s apologists don’t want that info getting public. They may not, however, be able to hold it off, this time.

And now perhaps Billy has his answers, too.


Welcome to Instapundit Readers. Welcome, indeed! Take some time to look around. Follow the links below to the main page.

Son of an update:
Since Glenn sent me a pile of traffic, it seems fair I should send it back; Check the pics he’s posted, as well as some added commentary. Go have a look; The pics address some of the comments made here, too.

Son of a Son of an update:
I’ve noted some question on the web regarding if Flight 967 did or did not dive incidental to it’s rudder falling off.Here’s where that report came from.  The paper has apparently taken down the report, but apparently not corrected the claim.Here’s the cached version at Google.

Something weird about this…