The untold story of QF72

The untold story of QF72: What happens when ‘psycho’ automation leaves pilots powerless?

Eight years after QF72 dived towards the ocean, the Top Gun pilot nicknamed “Sully” since his teens is breaking his silence. “We’re in an out-of-control aeroplane, we’re all juiced up by our own bodies because, we thought, we are in a near-death situation, and we’ve got to be rocket scientists to figure out how we can go in there and land the plane outside of any established procedures,” he says.

nothing here which we haven’t already witnessed before…

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Excellent story, and reinforces my policy of avoiding Airbuses whenever possible. The Airbus flight control system is snarkily described by Boeing pilots as being designed to protect the airplane from the pilot. AF447 is another one to look into if you’re interested in these things; the report on that describes what people in the Boeing camp regard as godawful ergonomics – but to be honest, Airbus pilots love and defend the things, so there you are.

As I used to teach my students, real-time control systems either go down sane (orderly shutdown), go down dead (power failure) or go down crazy. This one went down crazy. Or as John Gall wrote in his classic book “Systemantics,” “Fail safe systems fail by failing to fail safe.”