The incident occurred at 1926 hrs on 22 October 2005, to an Airbus A319-131 aircraft which was operating a scheduled passenger flight between London Heathrow and Budapest. The following Inspectors participated in the investigation:
Mr A P Simmons Investigator-in-Charge
Ms G M Dean Operations
Mr R G Ross Engineering
Mr P Wivell Flight Recorders
As the aircraft climbed to Flight Level (FL) 200 in night Visual Meteorological Conditions (VMC) with autopilot and autothrust engaged, there was a major electrical failure. This resulted in the loss or degradation of a number of important aircraft systems. The crew reported that both the commander’s and co-pilot’s Primary Flight Displays (PFD) and Navigation Displays (ND) went blank, as did the upper ECAM1 display. The autopilot and autothrust systems disconnected, the VHF radio and intercom were inoperative and most of the cockpit lighting went off. There were several other more minor concurrent failures.
The commander maintained control of the aircraft, flying by reference to the visible night horizon and the standby instruments, which were difficult to see in the poor light. The co-pilot carried out the abnormal checklist actions which appeared on the lower ECAM display; the only available electronic flight display. Most of the affected systems were restored after approximately 90 seconds, when the co-pilot selected the AC Essential Feed switch to Alternate (‘ALTN’). There were no injuries to any of the 76 passengers or 6 crew. After the event, and following discussions between the crew and the operator’s Maintenance Control, the aircraft continued to Budapest.
The Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) became aware of this incident on 28 October 2005, through the UK Civil Aviation Authority’s Mandatory Occurrence Reporting (MOR) scheme. The AAIB investigation team was assisted by an Accredited Representative from the Bureau d’Enquêtes et d’Analyses pour la Sécurité de l’Aviation Civile (BEA, the French air accident investigation authority) and by the aircraft manufacturer.
Preliminary information on the progress of the investigation was published in AAIB Special Bulletins S2/2005 and S3/2006, in November 2005 and April 2006. Four Safety Recommendations were made in Special Bulletin S3/2006.
It was not possible to determine the cause of the incident due to a lack of available evidence, however, nine additional Safety Recommendations are made in this report.
- Electronic Centralised Aircraft Monitoring system - this comprises two centrally mounted electronic display units, which present the flight crew with aircraft systems information, warning and memo messages and actions to be taken in response to systems failures.
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Published 10 December 2014