Remember those British Airways cool characters?

Way back in my early blogging days I wrote about the BA crew who suffered a near total loss of flight instruments in an Airbus A319 near London and happily carried on to their destination in Budapest when the fault mysteriously fixed itself. British investigators were, ahem, a mite surprised by the decision and even more so by the fact that nobody told them about it. Their report is out.It’s long(ish) and complicated, but there are some interesting findings: as previously indicated, they’re definitely not happy about the way the incident got reported to them; they can’t work out for sure what happened; it’s happened before on Airbus narrowbodies and they don’t know why that was either; and, once again, they’d like to see cameras in the cockpit.

All that said, there’s no question that the emergency, which the commander found “alarming” and considered “very serious” was nicely handled. He was then a 53 year-old with just shy of 12,000 flight hours, 4,000 of them on-type; the co-pilot was, at 29, literally young enough to be his daughter, with 2,000 hours, nearly all on-type.

Digitisation has meant that the case for cockpit cameras is more persuasive than it used to be. But the hurdles to be overcome with the pilot unions are huge – and I sympathise with them. Who of us would want to have every minute of our working day recorded on film? And just how much value would the world get? Flight Operations Quality Assurance (FOQA) programmes have been priceless in driving down the
global accident rate, but much of their value is because the data is normally disidentified and aggregated. There’s no such thing as disidentified video-data, and I don’t see how it can be aggregated. So it’s only useful when an incident or accident actually occurs – which is extremely rare.

Tricky question – leave a comment if you have views.

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