How The Pilot Brought In Crippled Superjumbo
Unconventional Approach: Landing an Airbus A380 After an Engine Explosion
"The coolheaded captain credited with saving a Qantas Airways Ltd. QAN.AU +0.78% super jumbo jet after a fiery engine explosion in 2010 relied on some distinctly unconventional piloting.
In the midst of the crisis, with the crippled Airbus A380 leaking fuel while he maintained a holding pattern and the crew tried to sort through a torrent of computer-generated cockpit alerts, Capt. Richard de Crespigny switched tactics. Rather than trying to decipher the dozens of alerts to identify precisely which systems were damaged, as called for by the manufacturer's manuals and his own airline's emergency procedures, he turned that logic on its head—shifting his focus to what was still working."
The pilots solution confronted with Sensory overload in a crises, was to shut down the damage, and focus on what can we fly with, and go for what is working? An old fighter pilot mentality arose saving the passengers lives while ignoring all the bells, whistles and horns going off in the cockpit, which confused the fly by committee crew into action. These bell and whistles are supposed to aid crew not confuse the crew during a catastrophic event that was unfolding in seconds. The pilot was on his evaluation flight and had no advantage from any user manuals for the A380 engine event, and its ongoing total system failures. It was just instinct, logic and skill overriding the Airbus A-380 emergency cacophony of noise and confusion and hundreds of simultaneous messages.
He brought in the A380 and wrote a new book for aviation on how to handle human sensory overload and save the aircraft and its passengers. The design engineers have taken note, and changed how information is handled in all new aircraft under development today, for both Airbus and Boeing. In fact it would be great to inform the crew what they do have for a plan B exigency drill. Having system lights that go green during an exigency event, where taxing the nominal system needs instant clarity, so the crew can quickly move to back to flying or gliding, by using the green signal lite systems and its capabilities instead of trying to decipher any red coded systems initially. A red light shouldn't continuously squawk incessantly, but have a system cut out from noise after 30 seconds and then blink red thereafter, until the crew can address at that the moment. A pilot can decide quickly what will fly the aircraft or if the pilot can assume a glide path for a recovery landing.
This is just one thought for flight management. The main thing is to:
- simplify pilot options of a hugely complex aircraft,
- give the crew committee the best information during decision making,
- And present best available options with priorities.
Similar to a A-1 Abrams battle tank with its battlefield targeting computer systems. Target by seeking, the most important item first and work through to a solution. It is more important to not have the cabin squawking all at once while the crew is in momentary shock and is forming an initial plan of action. Maintain a professional composure during a time of finding options, where seconds really do count. Taking on best information to keep the plane flying is more important than shocking the team with simultaneous alarms. Ultimate decision making is not the computer's job, since it is only an information source, but assists the flight with pilot inputs. The Pilot and crew need all the information managed, and on the table to make the best decision.