posted on Mar, 25 2015 @ 11:53 PM
Zaphod you are correct, this happened not because of design flaws in the A-330 cockpit layout and specifically its side-stick controllers but because
the Voyagers flight crew and especially its command pilot were clowns. Blaming the tool and not the operator(s) just smacks of yet another case of
Airbus bashing. I have extensive experience in both Boeing and Airbus aircraft and therefore their cockpit layouts, and I used to be a "Boeing always"
man. I recognize that there are flaws in Airbus design here and there but on the whole I find their thinking, safety and layout to be superior to
Seattle's. And especially in the cockpit. The Military Aviation Authority (MAA) report points out that in over 190 million hours of combined operation
across the Airbus family from A320 to A380 that have this layout, there is no other report of something like this ever happening.
What DID cause this was a total failure within the cockpit and a cultural and operational procedure flaw that needs addressing. First, why did the
pilot stick his camera between the side-stick armrest and the side-stick controller? That is no better or worse than a pilot in a 747 deciding to
stick his flight bag or other object between the yoke column and front edge of the seat pan. There is plenty of space to the left of the pilot for him
to rest his camera down. You just dont do dumb things like that. Conclusion? He was just plain stupid. Second, A330 cockpit seats are electrically
powered with a mechanical backup. All that idiot needed to do was reach down beside his thigh and toggle the seat tracking switch aft an inch or so,
he didn't even do that. On the issue of side-stick controllers and confusion about inputs, yes it can appear to be unclear about who is doing what but
the failure here isn't the input device its the inability of the crew to conduct proper CRM and both communicate the desired input as well as use the
Mark 1 eyeball to read their instruments. Generally speaking the instrument layout on Airbus's is better at doing that. You cant as mbkennel does
blame the design if the pilots dont do their job. This isn't a conspiracy to blame pilots, its an example of what happens when you f**kup.
A mechanical linkage system is not better in terms of reliability other than giving you a force feedback. But there is a problem with this method as
well. If for some reason the command pilot in the left seat has his column jammed or he slumps forward having passed out due to a medical problem
(this HAS happened) the co-pilot is going to find it very difficult to counter the problem because in most designs a la the 747, the control column
spring biasing always give force priority to the command pilot i.e. the left hand seat. In the Airbus model either
side-stick can be given
priority simply by selecting the "sidestick priority" switch on the glareshield, at which point an aural spoken warning will loudly announce either
"priority left" or "priority right" in the cockpit. This is what the co-pilot should have done first in this incident instead of panicking and
grabbing his stick (admittedly he had just "walked" across the ceiling to get there so his visual aspect was unusual to say the least). Further the
fact that his action caused the aircraft to disengage the auto pilot and begin leveling off is testament to a safe design even after human pilots
failed to do the correct procedure. A story on the report in Aviation Week contains the following comment of what the aircraft did as per the MAA
"The aircraft’s onboard self-protection systems overrode the stick input, with pitch-down protection activated 3 sec. after the pitch-down
command was given, while high-speed protection was triggered 13 sec. after the event started as the aircraft passed through 330 kt. With the flight
control system idling the engines, it recovered the dive to level flight."
Av Week story
One might also question why the R/H seat was unoccupied for an extended period as some sources have suggested? Plus why after such a major incident
with several dozen people on board injured and no idea if or how much damage the aircraft sustained did the pilot refuse the closest divert and
instead pushed on for something like 500 miles? He also appears to have tried to mislead the investigation by verbally only suggesting in the post
incident interview that there may have been a problem with the autopilot i.e. blame the machine and not the man. I'm sorry but this incident is a
damning indictment of bad piloting and cockpit procedure rather than a bad aircraft design.
edit on 25-3-2015 by thebozeian because: (no reason given)