What: Air France Airbus A340-300 en route from Caracas Venezuela to Paris Where: NW of Point A Pitre Guadeloupe When: Jul 22nd 2011 Why: In an experience that is being compared to Air France Flight 447, in night/instrument conditions, the AF Airbus flew through turbulence (reported by pilots, not on METAR) at 35,000 feet, accelerated (to 0.66 mach), and autopilot quit. Pitch attitude increased to 11 degrees and decelerated. Turbulence reduced, and pilots were able to level off and return the flight to normal parameters.
Hopefully the events of this flight will inform us of what is going on in the Airbus at high altitude
In George’s Point of View
Perhaps this flight recapitulates the events of Air France 447. It certainly seems to. Because of what history shows us, I wonder if there was a repeat of faulty input from the pitot tubes. The pilots, in this case managed to regain control of the plane. (I doubt if there is an airbus pilot now who hasn’t studied the events of AF447 and worked out some kind emergency response.)
Pilots blame the equipment. The BEA blames the pilots. Air France blames the instruments.
When the dust settles and the finger-pointing stops, we want those involved to stop blaming, and start taking responsibility.
What: United Airlines en route to San Francisco Where: LAX When: April 17, 2011 Why: After takeoff, the autopilot took control and would not relinquish it. The pilot had no control over the plane, but then was able to turn off autopilot and return to the airport.
The news release of this event does not mention the type of plane; but I am not surprised at first research that it appears to have been an Airbus A320. Fortunately, the pilot regained control, and there were no injuries. But this kind of problem with an airbus could have significance relating to all fly by wire aircraft, which have the capacity to lock out the pilot.
We need more information about this event. It should be published heavily, and we should be hearing some alerts and safety directives from Airbus.
What: Jetstar Airways Airbus A330-200 en route from Phuket (Thailand) to Sydney,NS Where: Changi Airport, Singapore When: Nov 1 2010 Who: 288 passengers Why: While en route, the autopilot failed. The pilots diverted to Singapore where they made a safe landing with emergency services on standby.
Alternative arrangements have been made for the affected passengers, who were booked onto other flights and offered accommodation in Singapore.
What: Air Canada 767 en route from Toronto to Buenos Aires Where: Toronto’s Pearson International Airport When: Mar 16th 2010 Who: 129 aboard Why: While en route, the flight developed a problem with the automatic pilot and diverted to Toronto where they made a safe landing with three fire trucks on standby. Passengers were rerouted.
What: Air France Airbus A380-800 en route from New York to Paris Where: Long Island When: Nov 27th 2009 Who: not available Why: After takeoff, the plane indicated an autopilot problem. They returned to the airport where the plane landed, was repaired and took off again, arriving safely in Paris about 6 hours late-
Click to view full size photo at Airliners.net Contact photographer Michael Fast What: Air Canada 767 en route from Toronto to Buenos Aires and/or Sao Paulo Brazil. Where: Toronto’s Pearson International Airport When: Wednesday April 15 2009 Who: 129 on board Why: When the pilot detected problems with the automatic pilot system, they followed standard operating procedure and returned to the airport for a safe landing. Passengers debarked on to the runway and were transported to the terminal where they were scheduled to take an alternative flight.
What: Qantas Airways Airbus A330-300 en route from Perth in Western Australia to Singapore Where: Perth When: Saturday December 27, Who: The number of passengers and crew has not yet been released. Why: The autopilot on a Qantas Airways Airbus A330 suddenly disconnected 500 kilometres after taking off. The jet was cruising at 36,000 feet when the autopilot quit. The flight successfully turned and landed in Perth.
This being the second autopilot fault, the situation is being investigated. A prior incident involving an on board system shutoff has been possibly attributed to communications interfering with aircraft onboard systems.
The ADIRU (air data inertial reference unit) is the flight computer system component about which the crew received an error message during the Dec 27 incident.
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