Airbus and Two Pilots in an Emergency
December 1, 2015
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As a regular flier few things scared me so much about flying as the Air France Flight 447 disaster on 2009-06-01. For the first time in a long time a modern airliner by one of the top tier airlines in the world just went inexplicably missing. I had been flying that same day but after hearing that news I did not take any flights again for more than a year.
The subsequent report on that flight 447 was concerning. One major issue was that when two pilots were attempting to control the aircraft at the same time they were not aware that they were both attempting to take control. Unlike a Boeing aircraft in which the steering columns both move when one pilot makes a manoeuvre the Airbus sidestick control provides no physical feedback in the event the other pilot is also issuing commands to the aircraft.
A news report released by the BBC on 2015-12-01 about the AirAsia flight 8501 disaster that occurred on 2014-12-28 stated:
- At another point, the two men appeared to be pushing their controls in opposite directions
It would be more reassuring to Airbus passengers in future if Airbus provided some warning or feedback when two pilots attempt to give opposing instructions to the plane at the same time. Especially when the lack of a clear distinction of pilot-in-command on these aircraft can, and has, resulted in the deaths of hundreds of people.