AN EXCALIBUR AIRLINES Airbus Industrie A320 was left with four of its five starboard spoilers disabled following a right-outboard-flap change carried out by British Airways maintenance at London Gatwick Airport, says a recent report by the UK Air Accident Investigation Branch.

The pilots departed Gatwick on 26 August 1993, having failed to notice during routine pre-flight checks that the slats had been disabled, says the report. Indication of individual control-surface movement - or lack of it - is shown on the A320's electronic centralised aircraft-monitor display.

When airborne, however, the crew noticed that they had to apply left-side-stick to maintain wings-level, so they returned to Gatwick for a safe landing, choosing to land flap-less and fast to maximise roll control. The A320 has ailerons as well as spoilers.

The report isolates multiple individual maintenance errors, but the main criticisms are that the engineers had not adhered to the maintenance manual procedures and had failed to carry out full functional checks of their work. The result was that starboard spoilers 2 to 5 were left in maintenance mode.

Source: Flight International