Maybe some of you still remember when a Qantas A330 involving VH-QPA (Around 5 Years Old at that time) that had an in-flight incident at mid air while serving QF72 from Singapore Changi Airport in Singapore, to Perth International Airport, Australia
For some of you who don’t know about QF72, You might want to refer to an article provided by Wikipedia below
#About Qantas Flight 72
Qantas Flight 72 (QF72) was a scheduled flight from Singapore Changi Airport to Perth Airport on 7 October 2008 that made an emergency landing at Learmonth airport near the town of Exmouth, Western Australia following an inflight accident featuring a pair of sudden uncommanded pitch-down manoeuvres that severely injured many of the passengers and crew. The injuries included fractures, lacerations and spinal injuries. At Learmonth, the plane was met by the Royal Flying Doctor Service and CareFlight, where 14 people were airlifted to Perth for hospitalisation, with 39 others also attending hospital. Two planes were sent by Qantas to Learmonth to collect the remaining passengers and crew. In all, 1 crew member and 11 passengers suffered serious injuries, while 8 crew and 99 passengers suffered minor injuries.
Here is a quick summary into the article
More than 100 people were injured when the pilots of the flight, carrying 303 passengers and 12 crew members from Singapore to Perth, lost control of the aircraft on October 7, 2008. The Airbus A330 had been cruising at 37,000 feet when the autopilot disengaged automatically. It nosedived twice before pilot Kevin Sullivan declared a mayday and made an emergency landing at Learmonth Airport near Exmouth, Western Australia, around 50 minutes after the first descent. Now, eight years later, Mr Sullivan has broken his silence on the incident that changed his life and left him with post-traumatic stress disorder.
He was 53 when what he described as a ‘computer crash’ would change the way he viewed the job he loved. Mr Sullivan was forced to take manual control of the plane when he felt it plunge for the first time at 12.42pm WA time. It went 150 feet down in two seconds.
He remembers wondering if his life was going to end. Seconds later, he finally felt responses to his control-stick movements and he is able to bring the aeroplane back to 37,000 feet. But then, the plane dove again – 400 feet in just over 15 seconds. He and the pilots realise that one of the three flight control primary computers (PRIMs) is faulty. He was concerned about how he would safely manage an emergency landing, but knew that continuing on to Perth could be even more devastating for the injured. Mr Sullivan declares a mayday and puts ‘Learmonth Airport’ into the computer for navigation – which shows an error. At this point, he says he became enraged and started ‘cursing like a drunken sailor.’
He said he lowered the jet’s nose and powered to idle as he began the final approach without all the necessary instruments - but mercifully landed the plane without another nosedive. His passengers and crew, including 115 of whom had sustained non-fatal injuries, cheered and clapped when it touched down without further incident. At least 20 passengers and crew aboard the flight were seriously injured - some with spinal injuries and others with broken bones and lacerations. And when he was finally able to enter the cabin, Mr Sullivan described the scene as looking like ‘the Incredible Hulk had gone through there in a rage and ripped the place apart.’ Three years after the accident, the Australian Transport Safety Bureau found inaccurate data on measures, including airspeed and angle of attack, sent to the plane’s computers.
One of the PRIMs commanded the plane to dive, but investigators could not pinpoint exactly what prompted the incorrect data. For Mr Sullivan, the incident had life-changing consequences. He took eight months off, but when he returned to work, he was hyper-alert and worried about losing control. After three decades at Qantas, he decided to leave last year. But he still worries about the greater control computers have over flying. He said that pilots were never given any indication in training that a computer could ‘go completely haywire and try and kill you.’
I think this incident is one of several incidents that blamed the Fly-By-Wire system. Although Fly-By-Wire is one of the best innovation to happen in the aviation industry, but like every innovation must have some flaws. The real story behind this incident is really scary indeed when you can imagine that your plane goes up and down steeply.