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Mon, Aug 27, 2012

Airbus A320 Family Has History Of Cockpit Electrical Issues

Two Years Remain On Compliance Order From FAA, EASA

Two years ago, the FAA and EASA both issued airworthiness directives requiring Airbus to fix an electrical problem that causes a nearly-complete failure of instruments in the cockpit of its A230 airplanes. There have been more than 50 documented cases in which an A320 family aircraft's cockpit has gone dark, with unreadable instruments and inoperative radios.

Both agencies gave airlines four years to come up with a solution and have all of their existing airplanes modified. There are still two years to go under those directives, and much of the work remains uncompleted. In an enterprise report appearing from the Associated Press, Douglas Moss, an aviation safety consultant, said the FAA should have not given airlines such a long window to effect the repairs. The FAA said that the time frame takes into account the 46 hours and approximately $6,000 required to fix each jet. There are some 633 Airbus A320 family aircraft operated by airlines in the United States, according to the report, and 2,400 flying for non-U.S. carriers.

No accidents have been attributed to a loss of electrical power in the cockpit, but Airbus told the NTSB in 2008 that in 50 episodes of cockpit electrical failure, almost half caused five of six cockpit displays to go dark.

Airbus Americas director of flight operations-technical Rudy Canto told the AP that new Airbus airplanes have multiple redundancy built into their electrical systems, and automatic switchovers that prevent a total cockpit display failure like those that prompted the AD. Airbus Americas vice president for Safety Bill Bozin said that the planemaker issued two safety bulletins recommending modifications to the electrical systems in 2007. He said that the emergency procedures currently in place make the airplanes safe to fly while the remaining fleet is modified.

(Airbus photo from file)

FMI: www.faa.gov, www.airbus.com

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