Airbus A320 aircraft have suffered an alarming number of almost total cockpit power failures since 2008 and after an order by aviation authorities in the United States and Europe to have them fixed in 4 years time they have yet to be completed.
The story by the Associated Press frankly paints a scary picture of not only the possible disaster that looms but the frustrations in actually fixing the problem.
An account from two United Airlines pilots:
‘As United Flight 731 climbed out of Newark with 107 people aboard, the pilot and first officer were startled to find screens that display crucial navigational information were blank or unreadable and radios were dead.
They had no way to communicate with air traffic controllers or detect other planes around them in the New York City area’s crowded airspace.
“I made a comment to the captain about steering clear of New York City, not wanting to get shot down by USAF fighters,” first officer Douglas Cochran later told investigators. He wasn’t joking: “We both felt an extreme urgency to get this aircraft on the ground as soon as possible.”
Within minutes, Cochran and the captain had turned around and safely landed the Denver-bound Airbus A320 at the Newark airport. Cochran later told investigators that clear weather might have been the only thing that saved them from a crash.’
More than 50 episodes involving the planes, which first went into service more than two decades ago, have been reported.
While there have been no accidents attributed to the failures, U.S. pilots unions wanted the problem fixed within 2 years.
The FAA rejected that.
Aviation safety consultant Douglas Moss said the FAA should have acted a lot more quickly.
“These things cost money and the industry is in bad shape, so you have the economics thrown into it. But if the end result is higher airfares and higher cost of transportation, then that is the price we have to pay to ensure a safe transport system,” said Moss, a California-based commercial pilot with 34 years’ experience, including 14 years flying Airbuses.
Image: Flickr [curimedia]