Showing posts from June, 2009

Airbus looking at descent until it adds pilot override

I think we'll see accelerating cancellations of Airbus orders. It will have little to do with whether Airbus can identify and correct sensor and/or other problems with Air France Flight 447, which went down a week ago while en route from Rio de Janeiro to Paris. Rather, I believe it will be because the Flight 447 crash will make the public aware of something that must be very unsettling to pilots -- Airbus has a design philosophy of using computer fly-by-wire, without the ability of pilots to override! Of course, Boeing jets also operate with fly-by-wire, but at least pilots' inputs can override the computer.

I don't know if this design philosophy truly reflects a difference between American and European cultures. But I would say, to the public, this is not a story about culture or mechanical sensors. It's a story about whether the pilots in the cabin have a fighting chance to bring you back alive, if something goes very wrong. That is an epic human story, of which I w…