Re: A ride on an A320

From:         Pete Mellor <pm@cs.city.ac.uk>
Date:         16 Jun 93 14:59:25 PDT
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Andy, 

Thanks for a very interesting trip report. 

I had a demo flight from London Heathrow to Aberdeen and back last August. 
The copilot, who organised the trip, visited City University in May to assist 
at a presentation on the EFCS which I was giving as part of the series of 
weekly seminars arranged by the Computer Science Department. 

Like the pilots you flew with, he adores the A320. He was very good at 
describing the facilities that the EFCS provides, and at rubbishing some 
of the urban myths that have grown up around the aircraft. 

I also had a demonstration of the FMS glide slope/vertical speed interface. 
You are right that the decimal point is hard to spot, but there are other 
indications, such as the change in the "aircraft logo" on the PFD. The copilot 
was of the opinion that confusion of mode could *not* have been responsible 
for Strasbourg. I am still not sure. 

Although I was suitably impressed by the demonstration flight, I still harbour 
suspicions that technical features of the pilot interface, and possibly 
outright system failure, may have been contributory causes of the three fatal 
crashes that the A320 has suffered. (I am not a pilot, however. My main 
interest is safety-critical software.) 

I am sorry that lack of time prevents me from commenting in more detail on 
your excellent report. 

Regards, 

Peter Mellor, Centre for Software Reliability, City University, Northampton 
Sq., London EC1V 0HB, Tel: +44(0)71-477-8422, JANET: p.mellor@csr.city.ac.uk 
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