Ask an Explainer


Why can't the manufacturer provide an extra Pitot tube,which can be deployed when the regular one fails?


There is nothing stopping a manufacturer from adding a secondary pitot tube to an airplane, however it doesn't make much sense in most cases. A pitot tube is an expensive part of a plane and requires quite a bit of space to be implemented, this means that they may have to redesign the entire aircraft around it, when the benefit is fairly small.  You see a tube that is blocked by a solid object like a wasp is very unusual and rare. The most common form of blockage is ice as a result of high altitude flight or flying in very cold conditions. To combat this all planes are required to be equipped with a heated pitot tube to melt the ice. Along with a requirement for the tube to be inspected before and after every flight. The incident that you are referencing, Birgenair Flight 301, was caused by a wasps nest being built inside the tube. This is something that should have been noticed by a member of the ground crew. 

Ask an Explainer