Re: "Die Zeit" article on Airbus (longish excerpts)

From: (Onat Ahmet)
Organization: Dept. of Information Science, Kyoto University, JAPAN
Date:         07 Dec 94 01:15:46 
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In article <airliners.1994.1741@ohare.Chicago.COM> writes:

>> >More interesting is that the article does not describe glass cockpit /
>> >fly-by-wire as inherently dangerous, but rather emphasizes problems of
>> >human perception of and reaction to computerization, as well as
>> >insufficient training procedures: "All pilots had blindly trusted
>> >their machines." 
 That really seems to be the reason. Flight modes are frequently
mistaken, and if the mistake ends the pilot up in an unfamiliar
mode, he might not always know the way to change it back. At a 
test conducted by NASA on 30 US airline pilots, a large number could
not access unfrequently used modes, or could not leave them once
entered. This seems to be the reason behind many of the Airbus
accidents. One in India for example happened as follows:

Just before landing.
Pilot is to set the descent rate to -700, but by mistake, sets
the altitude to 700. The computer reacts by reducing power to 
idle, showing the descent bar (I do not know what it is called
in practice) way too low on the artificial horizon, and begins automatic
descent to set altitude. Pilot, unaware of this pushes the stick further
than necessary, following the descent bar on the screen. 

They realize the problem a couple of hunderd feet agl, but can not 
figure out the way switch out of the mode properly.

And yes, the airpot altitude is actually 900 feet...

At least three accidents and one near miss took place with Airbus
because the pilots misunderstood aborted landing sequence, resulting
in the aircraft stalling at some hundereds of feet AGL, with the nose
pointing up as much as 90 degrees. An East German (some time ago)pilot 
escaped by using manual override for the horizontal stab trim, after 
stalling four times.
>> A slight aside based on hearsay: It seems that the automated/glass
>> cockpit planes - that undoubtedly do drop out of the sky for human
>> reasons every now and then - so far have done it outside of the United
>> States.

There has been a computer-pilot mismatch crash in 1988 in the US (sorry,
no other info...)

What we all have to understand IMHO is that planes must be designed based
on common pilot instincts, and not vice versa; as is being done nowadays.

>> --
>> Morten Norby Larsen                  e-mail:

Ahmet ONAT