TOULOUSE, French Aviation Authorities Here Admitted To A Near-disaster Which Occured About A Month Ago Aboard An Airbus A320 Jetliner.

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French aviation authorities here admitted to a near-disaster which occured
about a month ago aboard an Airbus A320 jetliner. The controversial aircraft
with its 'fly-by-wire' flight controls has been the subject of intense
controversy since its introduction. The manufacturer, a consortium of
European interests, has steadfastly maintained the aircraft's inherent safety
over other aircraft, largely as a result of the computerized controls which
limit inputs from the pilots to ensure they are always compatible with
the current aerodynamic state of the plane. Pilots and other pundits have
argued that these same safeguards can severely limit the crew's options
in emergency conditions. Additionally, they argue that the increased
faith placed in the on-board computers leads to crew complacency and

"The incident in question took place while the aircraft, a British Airways
plane, was at cruise between New York and Fairbanks. The co-pilot was
apparently entering new navigational data into the craft's INS (Inertial
Navigation System) when he misstyped a code. The INS came back with
'Invalid PIN number selected' and returned the craft's weight and balance
data to the astonished crew. 'We tried several more times," exclaimed
Reginald Dwight, the Captain, 'and every time it was the same thing. On
the third try it said "Access violation, contact your credit institution if
you believe there is an error." At that point all the plane's controls
froze and it refused to respond to our commands. We didn't know what to
do, so we got on the radio."

:British Airway's mechanics were equally dumbfounded and decided to call
French mechanics. France's Aerospatial is the prime contractor for the
aircraft. 'The French were totally rude to us,' stated an unnamed
BA mechanic. 'They stated the problem was our fault and that "the pasty
little Englishman probably had too many meat pies and Guiness".' 'It wasn't
until we told them that Jerry Lewis was aboard the flight that they became

"French mechanics traced the problem to the ATM-6000 INS computer, which was
a modified version of a computer used in the United States for bank
transactions. 'Essentially, the INS decided that the co-pilot was trying
to rip-off someone and locked the controls.' French authorities then assured
the English crew that the system would automatically remove the restrictions
at the start of the next banking day. 'We told them that we would be in the
sea by then!' exclaimed the frustrated copilot, Nigel Whitworth.

"A French team, headed by Bertrand Swatboutie, determined that manual control
of the plane could be re-established if a crewmember went back to the
tailcone and operated the elevators manually. The rudder is linked by
backup cables to the cockpit and with the crewmember operating the
elevator they determined they would have enough control. 'There is nothing
wrong with ze plane,' exclaimed Swatboutie, 'that a little pinch in the
rear will not cure. Just like a woman. If these English souffres knew
anything about women, they would never have had to call us in the first

"The plane was able to safely land at Denver's Stapelton airport, where the
craft was repaired and all crewmember's credit histories reviewed."