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What is a pitot probe on a plane for ?

Published on 06/09/2015 01:00 - By

The pitot tube is named after Henri Pitot, an eighteenth century French engineer and physicist, who invented the instrument in 1732 for his use in measuring the speed of fluids, in order to calculate the flow rate of the River Seine in Paris. The system was subsequently improved, and is called the pitot tube.

Today, the pitot probe can be seen on both sides of an aircraft’s fuselage, toward the nose, and on the nose of certain fighter planes. Its correct functioning is essential, since its malfunction could lead to a ‘plane crash, as was the case in an Air France flight from Rio to Paris in 2009, and likely due to the aircraft's pitot probe being obstructed by ice crystals.

Goodrich and Thales are the two main pitot probe manufacturers in the world. But what is a pitot probe used for? Find the answer at the end of the video, in which we put the question to a number of passengers in an airport. 

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