"Plane Was Doomed" - AP

From:         jebright@magnus.acs.ohio-state.edu (James R Ebright)
Organization: The Ohio State University
Date:         12 May 94 13:19:34 
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AP has an article on the recent Airbus crash in Japan.  Parts of it
I just don't understand.

The co-pilot had the plane in 'go around' mode while trying to land. 
According to AP "...the pilot warned the co-pilot, who was at the
controls, three times in the next half-minute that the improper mode
was in effect."

That seems a little too polite.  How should cockpit management have
really worked?

Further AP says ... "the co-pilot and the computer struggled to
compensate for each other's actions, with the co-pilot trying to slow
the plane and bring its nose lower and the computer attempting to
accelerate and raise it.  The computer prevailed by tilting flaps on
the plane's tail called stabilizers to their maximum angle."

The co-pilot then truns off 'go-around' mode but the computer program
kept the stabilizers set at the sharp angle.

The plane is now too high so the crew aborts the landing and turns
'go-around mode' back on.  Then, evidently due to the computer program,
"the engines surged and the jet began climbing at an extreme 53-degree
angle, then stalled. Although the plane regained speed once, it stalled
again, falling tail-first to the ground."

The Airbus A300-600R operating manual warned the computer will retain
partial operation of the controls and that "``may lead to a hazardous 
situation'' during landings and in go-around mode,"  (evidently a
slight understatement).

Further AP said "Airbus Industrie, the plane's maker, sent a
recommendation last year to all airlines using the A300-600 series
saying they should replace its computer software. It was unclear
whether China Airlines had done so."

With the computer software doing so much of the flight control on this
airplane, what level of control is placed on updating it?  Can you still
fly with old s/w?  Are there levels attached with updates some of which 
must be applied ASAP?  If so, who decides what merits such a priority?

 A/~~\A   'moo2u from osu'   Jim Ebright   e-mail: ebright@bronze.coil.com
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