As many of us gain exposure and flight hours with high tech flight decks, the more I am reminded of the need to still retain some of that “pilot stuff.”
An Airbus 319 recently lost all comm and transponder output in Europe due to a malfunction of the primary and backup electrical system. That’s supposed to be impossible in a Part 25 (air carrier) aircraft.
An ASRS Report on a Beechjet descending from the flight levels lost all airspeed indications, including back up. Perhaps this was what happened to the Air France Airbus in convective weather leaving Brazil. Total loss of airspeed indication – couldn’t happen – could it?
Closer to home, on return from Oshkosh, the database in my panel-mounted GPS got a little dyslexic. The plan was to go over Toledo, Ohio but the fuel computer advised that not only was I not going to have enough fuel for the trip but that the ETA was some 40 hours hence. The revelation came during cruise flight so there was plenty of time for head scratching.
Even more surprising was that TOL (the Toledo Vortac) had migrated some 4,000 miles to Southeast to somewhere in Brazil. Ahhhh, that would explain the mileage, time and fuel discrepancies. However, the TO NDB in Brazil had moved northwest to where Toledo had been in sort of a “sister cities” swap.
I loaded the TO identifier into the box and all the time, speed, distance and fuel parameters magically resolved themselves. It doesn’t take much imagination to see that in the terminal area this could be a major distraction.
Upon return, to query the database provider, Jeppesen pretty much said ” Well, why don’t you wait til the next update and if it doesn’t go away, call us back.” Interesting response for a flight safety critical piece of equipment.
Which brings me back to the blog title. Bits, Bytes and electrons can occasionally go haywire and we need to be sure that we always trust but verify. Single point failures are increasingly rare which means our ability to deal with them may need at least some occasional practice.
Anybody else had a similar experience?