Military A332 enroute on Feb 9th 2014, interaction between arm-rest and sidestick causes nose dive

Last Update: March 20, 2014 / 18:31:32 GMT/Zulu time

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Incident Facts

Date of incident
Feb 9, 2014

Classification
News

Airline
military

Aircraft Type
Airbus A330-200

ICAO Type Designator
A332

A military Airbus A330-200 with 189 soldiers and 9 crew, was enroute at FL330 between the UK and Afghanistan. The first officer had left the cockpit and was in the forward galley, when occupants of the aircraft felt a sensation of weightlessness. The captain was pressed into his harness, attempted to take control disconnecting autopilot and pulling the side stick to no avail. After the aircraft had lost 4400 feet in 27 seconds the commander managed to recover the aircraft from the dive.

The United Kingdom's Military Aviation Authority (MAA) released their report stating amongst others:

As such, the Inquiry has confidence that the pitch-down command was the result of an inadvertent physical input to the Captain’s side-stick by means of a physical obstruction (the camera) between the arm-rest and the side-stick unit. Simulations have been carried out which have re-created the scenario which has shown that it is possible for objects to become inadvertently lodged in the space between the arm rest and the side-stick, generating an identical pitch-down command to that seen during the incident. Safety advice has been issued to the RAF and to Airbus to highlight this possibility.

The MAA analysed that the flight data recorder revealed that the captain's side stick provided a slight sustained nose down input of 0.8 degrees about 104 seconds prior to the onset of the event. At the onset of the event the side stick moved to a sustained full nose down deflection.

A camera in the cockpit showed that the captain had moved his seat precisely 104 seconds prior to the event and again at the onset of the event.

The MAA stated: "The Panel has found evidence to link the movement of the seat to the movement of the side-stick, in the form of a Digital SLR camera obstruction which was in-front of the Captain’s left arm rest and behind the base of the Captain’s side-stick at the time of the event. Analysis of the camera has confirmed that it was being used in the three minutes leading up to the event. Furthermore, forensic analysis of damage to the body of the camera indicates that it experienced a significant compression against the base of the side-stick, consistent with having been jammed between the arm rest and the side-stick unit. Crew interviews have corroborated this evidence."

Although military operations are not covered by The Aviation Herald, the significance of this event for civil Air Transport Category Operations, also noted by the MAA, prompted us to this unique exception.
Incident Facts

Date of incident
Feb 9, 2014

Classification
News

Airline
military

Aircraft Type
Airbus A330-200

ICAO Type Designator
A332

This article is published under license from Avherald.com. © of text by Avherald.com.
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