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A safety expert claims the Air France plane that crashed into the Atlantic sent out a message about a rudder problem before it disappeared.
The aircraft, with 228 people on board, transmitted a total of 24 automatic messages.
The official, who claims to have access to the French investigation, said the device in question controls how far the plane's rudder can move.
After the longest investigation in aviation history—more than four and a half years—the concluding statement said: The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of the USAir flight 427 accident was a loss of control of the airplane resulting from the movement of the rudder surface to its blowdown limit. The rudder surface most likely deflected in a direction opposite to that commanded by the pilots as a result of a jam of the main rudder power control unit servo valve secondary slide to the servo valve housing offset from its neutral position and overtravel of the primary slide. The NTSB concluded that similar rudder problems caused the previously mysterious 3 March 1991 crash of United Airlines Flight 585, and the 9 June 1996 incident involving Eastwind Airlines Flight 517, both of which were Boeing 737s. As a result of the investigation, pilots were warned of and trained how to deal with insufficient aileron authority at an airspeed at or less than 190 knots (218 mph, 354 km/h), formerly the usual approach speed for a B737. Four additional channels of information—pilot rudder pedal commands—were incorporated into flight data recorders, while Boeing redesigned the rudder system on 737s and retrofitted existing craft until the affected systems could be replaced. The United States Congress also required airlines to deal more sensitively with the families of crash victims.