This one is definitely for those of us who like to right click-copy four or five times, just to make sure our “untrustworthy” computers won’t accidentally paste the previous thing we copied. An Easyjet takeoff issue has been thoroughly investigated and found to be a software issue.
Investigators discovered that the April 2016 event involving one of its fleet of A319 Airbuses was due to the computer displaying the data for the wrong runway. The flight crew did indeed click on the correct runway – number 31 – in the right-hand corner of the screen and could actually see the correct screen they needed, but the actual runway data it was displaying was still showing that of runway 13. This meant their calculations were based on key data for the wrong runway.
While you might immediately imagine two planes colliding on the runways, the reality was far less dramatic as this was not an air traffic control incident. A report from Flight Global points out that the runways are even the same length and no near-miss incident occurred. What is potentially dangerous, though, is that one of the runways faces inland and directly towards a slight mountain, while the other faces out to sea. Failure to allow for the geological obstacle means heading towards the obstruction without getting enough lift to climb over it.
While no one was hurt and the flight continued as planned, Easyjet took part in the necessary investigation to figure out what went wrong and how to prevent it in the future after the pilot reported the data display issue. A newer version of the software in use doesn’t allow the crew to see data from multiple runways at the same time, and certainly not by mistake.
This finding comes at a time when confidence in vehicle software is facing consumer backlash due to intentionally flawed automotive software, on-board hacking of key auto software, and more.