Re: Hey software, get the fuck out of the way!
In the case cited above, the Airbus aircraft recognised it had no idea what was happening, so it gave full control to the pilots, it did not overrule the pilots.
Yeah, AF447 saw a significant chain reaction of errors, some down to human factors, some down to cockpit design. It really epitomises that complex systems can fail in complex ways, even when sparked off by a seemingly simple root fault (like a pitot tube icing over).
- The autopilot correctly realised it was getting unreliable data and correctly switched to alternate law.
- The co-pilot had lost situational awareness and thought they were in a dive, pitching up and placing the aircraft into a stall.
- The pilot attempted to correct the stall condition, but this was where a combination of human factor and cockpit design created a fatal error condition.
1. Cockpit cooperation and communication broke down - the pilot was unaware that the copilot was trying to correct what they perceived as a dive condition
2. Because the airbus sidesticks are not mechanically linked and there was apparently inadequate indication of conflicting inputs, the pilot was unable to perceive this from his controls and did not understand that this was the reason why the aircraft was failing to react to a nose-down input on his stick.
On a Boeing, the linked yokes would have led to at least one half of the cockpit asking "WTF are you doing?" to the other because they would have been physically fighting against each other.
Ironically, an MCAS system (separate to the autopilot, which had already quit) may also have prevented the co-pilot pitching up into a hard stall condition.