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

From:         wilder@unixg.ubc.ca (Kevin M. Wilder)
Organization: University of British Columbia, Canada
Date:         14 Dec 94 02:22:38 
References:   1 2
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Just a question, (I am sorry if this has already been discussed)

: 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...

With all of the computer sophistication in these aircraft, should it 
not be possible for the autopilot to check the radio altimeter 
before flying the aircraft into the ground? (I am assuming it has one) I 
myself program computers as a hobby, and I know that they can be a pain 
in the *****, but how hard could this be?  I am surprised that Airbus 
was able to certify this aircraft/autopilot combination given the above 
incident...  

Regards,

Kevin

 - if something doesn't work, give it a longer name.  If it still doesn't 
work, the new name wasn't long enough.