Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Avoid Airbus 320--When You Fly, Make Sure Your Plane Isn't One

Because it doesn't have a stellar safety record.  Another fatal
A320 crash, their second in four months, took the lives of some
150 souls today in the French Alps. No survivors were expected
in an accident of this kind. According to Leonard Lee, a former
IBM systems engineer and an award-winning broadcaster,
"Airbus admits the advanced level of automation in the A320
can lead to crew overconfidence."

The Day The Phones Stopped, Mr. Lee's book from 1990,
reveals all sorts of computerization/automation problems
and disasters. He deals extensively with "fly by wire", which
means that pilots no longer have as much manual control
as formerly, similar to current car technology. Mr. Lee
quotes from industry magazines like Aviation Week and
Space Technology (1990) and Flight  International
Magazine, also from 1990.

Apparently there's an unholy triad of factors meeting in
a matrix of danger here:
(1) pilot overconfidence, which has led to pilots flying at
low altitudes and speeds, a basic Physics no-no;
(2) insufficient training IN Physics, yet flying a plane which
must always obey physical laws to remain aloft, then land
safely--no computer program can change this;
(3) Certain design flaws which add to any crew's difficulty
 in controlling their aircraft.

Some will say, that's all quoted from 1990,
25 years ago--haven't the designs, hardware,
software and crew training improved since then?
Let me remind you that most of those 25 year old
airplanes, so expensive to build and maintain, are
still in the sky. (There are apparently much older
airplanes up there too; some of those are actually
safer than  the newer A320s.)

Airbus parses its "fine" safety record by saying
there hadn't been an A320 crash in six years, but
now there have been two in four months. They've
tweaked the tech, but the basic design spec is the
same for all the 25 year-old airliners still aloft.

If you have the choice, when planning a trip,
fly with a different design--ditch the A320
before it can ditch you.
P.S. 1: The Tuesday tragedy killing 150 people
included 16 children; two were babies. The Airbus
airliner in question? It was 24 years old. Mr. Lee's
warnings from 1990 resonate relevantly right

P.S.2: Airbus and Boeing have the most crashes, but still
operate. The Concorde was taken out of service due
to high costs and crashes.

P.S. 3: This weeks's A320 crash is now known to be
no accident, all the above to the contrary. Airbus "fly by
wire" technology is still highly problematic, however,
for the reasons given.


  1. Another wonderful informative blog Amber. Frankly I am not high on flying. Also no fan of that plane.

    1. After my third "almost crash" experience in 1988, I stopped flying altogether. I would only fly if I had to get to my only child quickly from a great distance. Take care, Lester, best to you and yours.

    2. Dear Amber. Ever heard of the mile high club? LOL well I am not with it . Had little experience with flying and do not want to fly. I say stick to the 55 mile, 70 mile or diesel clubs( BUS, TRAIN, CAR, BOAT,) When planes come down they usually explode, brea into pieces, etc,ec. Thank you . all the best A wonderful Easter to you and yours.

    3. The revelations and exposure regarding the tragedy are enraging, sad, and shocking.My God I fear this is going to become more common in our times. My thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of the victims.