Armavia Flight 967 - Pilot error
Thursday, July 27, 2006 2:28:07 PM
I happen to believe - may be I am wrong - depending on how bad weather is and state of aircraft, disengaging AP and stabilize aircraft, adjust pitch and throttle manually could work better. A320 is one of the most sophisticated (first fly-by-wire) aircrafts that employ 7 flight computers that react far faster than a human and those computers protect aircraft from human errors as well.
According to Russian NTSB, Flight 967's pilot (Captain Grigory Grigoryan) has disengaged AP at 1100ft AGL (above ground level) while making second of four 90 degrees turn, executing a go-around.
The advantage of AP is that it's got multiple computers continuously calculating whole aerodynamics, complex physics. I think disengaging AP at that low altitude under bad weather conditions was not the best idea.
The major problem with wind is change in its direction rather than its strength. If it wind's direction changes frequently, a human may not respond fast enough. AP can do better than a human under such circumstances, I think. Never mind all those pilots take a test every 6 months on simulator against crazy winds and windshear.
I remember worst turbulence of my life, it was an A321. I think pilot disengaged AP, because it was AP that did some immediate pitch up-down and increase-decrease thrust - it was scary. We had smoother turbulence after a little shaking. I think that little shaking happened after AP disengaged, thrust was also stabilized. Of course, we were cruising at 36000ft, probably around .78 mach speed; in other words, pilot(s) had lots of things to do and time, if something would have gone wrong.
I sometimes think aircrafts became far too complex to understand. Pilots have difficulties to choose the right action to take against real-tough problems, they lose their way in riddling checklists (filled with "if"s). Complexity is introduced to achieve higher safety. Some pilots do not trust computers, they compete with computers (not implying Captain Grigory Grigoryan did this). The worst action to take in a fly-by-wire aircraft, I think, is to distrusting/competing with computers and risking everything.
Peace on Armavia Flight 967.