Air Tahiti F-OIQU airplane was on initial climb at a speed of about 170 kt, the captain noticed that the slip indicator ball had travelled to the extreme right. He used the rudder trim as far as the stop to reduce the load on the rudder.
He managed to move the ball half-way back between the centre and the instrument right-hand stop.
Reckoning that his instrument was possibly faulty, he asked the copilot of Air Tahiti F-OIQU airplane to check on the indicator on the right. The latter confirmed the same sideslip information.
Fearing that they might not be able to trim the aeroplane in the event of a failure of engine n°1, the crew of Air Tahiti F-OIQU airplane aborted the flight and landed back at the departure airport. During speed reduction on final, the crew indicated that the sideslip decreased.
The crew of Air Tahiti F-OIQU airplane landed without further mishap.
The incident occurred due to the incomplete completion and check on a maintenance operation. This generated the undetected failure to reconnect the rudder trim tab.
A combination of the following two factors contributed to this incident:
- A limitation in the computer system used by the airline during maintenance operations. This system allowed only the start and end of a maintenance operation to be keyed in without being able to detail the stages and
- The failure to initial work cards by the maintenance personnel and the supervisor for each maintenance task carried out.