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luoto
6th Nov 2006, 10:18
seen this on the risks digest and haven't seen a thread here. Does seem rather odd !



Date: Sat, 21 Oct 2006 13:17:53 -0700
From: james hughes <[email protected]>
Subject: Computer failure causing A320 PA not to work... [Video]

I was on UA 914 from SFO to IAD on October 16th 2006 occupying seat 1B. This
is an A320 with a plaque that reads it is the 500th airbus built, with the
names of the people that accepted the plane from Airbus to United.

At FL39 approaching Denver, the weirdest thing happened.

It was like a 'B' horror movie.

All of a sudden all the lights in the cabin, including things like seat belt
lights, smoking light, call buttons etc. started randomly flashing. The
audio system went bonkers also changing channels, alternating static and
music, etc... The attached video was taken with my palm cell phone. While
this is looking forward, it was even weirder in the back with all the
flashing lights.

In the video you can see the lights flashing and the flight attendant trying
to get into the cockpit. The PA system flight attendant to cabin and cockpit
to cabin did not work. I suspect communications to the cockpit was a problem
to judging on how the flight attendant was constantly "ringing the bell" to
get the flight crew to open the door...

This went on for 10 minutes. The plane did not descent, turn or otherwise,
and even though Channel 9 was not coming through clearly, the chatter on the
radio was normal.

After it was over, the pilot said later that he was trying to turn off the
evacuation alarm(!) which he said was unbelievably loud and sounding in the
cockpit (although I did not hear it). He explained that he had never heard
this in flight before (good thing) and this was something that they heard in
training.

During that 10 minutes he had been in contact with the UA maintenance
people.

The explanation was that the passenger control system had failed. He said it
was the system that controls the "creature comforts" in the back of the
airplane including the lights and toilets (and a bit more I might add! I am
a little surprised that the PA, and crew to cockpit communications can be so
easily trashed.)

The pilot claimed to have been flying the A320 for 8 years and was taken
totally off guard by this.

My kudos to the crew for taking care of this. False alarms are at least
distracting, which can contribute to larger issues.

At the end the video, unbelievably, a passenger just had to get up and go to
the bathroom really bad. I told him to sit back down, but after the end of
the video he went anyway, right in the middle of this mess.

[Video omitted here. Contact Jim to view it. PGN]

Bus429
6th Nov 2006, 10:47
Sounds like CIDS' to blame.

captain_jeeves
6th Nov 2006, 11:38
I've had this happen a couple of times, and have heard others have the same issue. It's nothing to get concerned about as it has no effect on the operation of the aircraft. And yes, it's a CIDS issue.

rotornut
6th Nov 2006, 12:18
Windows software - seriously.

cargoflyer
6th Nov 2006, 12:25
should consider yourself lucky not be escorted by whatever fast-furious was in the air next to you :uhoh: :sad: :E

RobertK
6th Nov 2006, 12:29
So, CIDS is?....

Regards,

Robert

Down Three Greens
6th Nov 2006, 12:36
Sounds like a CIDS failure or impending failure to me!

Cabin Intercommunication Data System (CIDS)

Not a big issue...just controls cabin lights, interphone etc

Bus429
6th Nov 2006, 17:22
Asfkap,
I recall a few years ago that we had problems on A300-600/A310-300 (CF6-80) with similar symptoms, more particularly emergency lights. Fault traced to pitting/arcing IDG connectors on the pylons. I think there is an SB to remove connectors; the only disconnects then were at the IDG and TB in the pylon.

Half_Cuban
6th Nov 2006, 17:50
I'm just a humble engineer with quite a few years experience on the A320 family and I've seen this a few times over the years. The immediate symptoms are the cabin lights flashing randomly anywhere on the approach but usually just after top of descent. The first time I saw it I also thought it was a CIDS problem but in actual fact it was caused by a faulty IDG (integrated Drive Generator). On every other occasion where I had this problem it was also caused by a faulty IDG.
Its always impossible to reproduce on the ground for troubleshooting and the pilots are normally unaware unless the cabin crew bring it to their attention at the time.
If it ever happens to to you just have a quick look at the electrics page on ECAM and make a note of what the % load is for each of the generators and you'll find one of them is way down compared to the other. Report the figures to the avionic guys (the clean ones) and they'll get the A+C guys (the dirty ones) to replace it on the nightstop:ouch:


More often than not the left generator is somewhere around 28% and the right around 20% i've noticed, I dont think I've ever seen them evenly matched

simfly
6th Nov 2006, 22:10
"At FL39 approaching Denver, the weirdest thing happened."

Would one not be underneath Denver at FL39??

Capt. Inop
6th Nov 2006, 22:53
Would one not be underneath Denver at FL39??

Yeah, as DEN is at a elevation of 5430 ft :p

Wodrick
6th Nov 2006, 22:57
Am aware of both, could be IDG, but also could be CIDS Director. We had one two weeks ago that was certainly cured by Director replacement, but we have also experienced the IDG defect.

C152_driver
6th Nov 2006, 23:03
"All of a sudden all the lights in the cabin, including things like seat belt
lights, smoking light, call buttons etc. started randomly flashing. The
audio system went bonkers also changing channels, alternating static and
music, etc... The attached video was taken with my palm cell phone. "

Surely the answer's obvious? It was interference from the Palm cell phone? :)

Metro man
7th Nov 2006, 00:06
Had this a few days ago, procedure given in the QRH calls for pulling and resetting two CBs. Takes about four minutes for the system to reset. Evacuation alarm was very loud on the flight deck, however the passengers barely noticed !

kiwi1
7th Nov 2006, 11:37
"More often than not the left generator is somewhere around 28% and the right around 20% i've noticed, I dont think I've ever seen them evenly matched" (from 1/2 Cuban)

It has been a while (am now on the 777), but if I remember correctly, the L genny powers the galleys/bev makers/other stuff in the cabin, and I always saw those sort of %'s as well, ie L abt 5-10% higher than the R.

Cheers Guys, miss my tray table :-))

Kiwi1 ;)

Dan Winterland
7th Nov 2006, 15:33
More often than not the left generator is somewhere around 28% and the right around 20% i've noticed, I dont think I've ever seen them evenly matched

That's normal - and it's the number 1 gen that's highest as it's also powering the Essential AC and DC Busses as well as it's own AC Bus. This is probably an IDG connector arcing. There's an OEB out reagerding this problem.

IFixPlanes
7th Nov 2006, 16:45
...
If it ever happens to to you just have a quick look at the electrics page on ECAM and make a note of what the % load is for each of the generators and you'll find one of them is way down compared to the other. ...
Please report the frequency.
Flickering cabin lights can be caused by frequency changes >2 Hz.

allthatglitters
8th Nov 2006, 03:08
Have seen this reported several times on CFM56 powered A320 series aircraft and it can be reproduced on the ground and I have been on one when this was carried out, there is a TSM procedure to run the #2 engine for some time (cannot remember how long) at an above idle setting to warm up the IDG, after this time after closing the throttle back to idle the whole cabin starts flashing, normally fixed by changing #2 IDG.

IFixPlanes
8th Nov 2006, 19:05
...
but not before the non believers := had thrown God knows how many CIDS Directors and countless DEUs etc at the problem, all in vain.:ugh:
Tell the "non believers" RTFM (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RTFM)!!!
TSM TASK 33-21-00-810-806
Cabin Lights - All Cabin Lights Flicker

interpreter
8th Nov 2006, 20:44
Some years ago I was flying as a passenger from Vancouver to Montreal at night on Air Canada when all the interior lighting failed just after take-off and even before the gear was up. Only the pale emergency lighting was available and all the galley and toilet lights likewise failed. Some of the passengers were quite alarmed as the cabin crew were quite uncertain how to handle things ans seemed concerned themselves.
The Captain just said we would have a dark trip and apologised. But the flight was fine and with a window seat I had the best view of Canada in winter by night.

AKAAB
14th Nov 2006, 01:23
I've seen this happen twice with a bad ground power unit feeding less than 395hZ. Start the APU, pull the GPU and the lights go back to normal.

"Sorry for the lightshow folks, the flight attendants were in the mood for a little disco..."

Danny
23rd Nov 2006, 21:30
Associated article from Flight Global with the actual video of the event:

A320 Phantom in the electrics (http://tinyurl.com/y8a9zq)

allthatglitters
25th Nov 2006, 12:22
I always wonder what these eratic power supplies may do to all those little, very expensive black boxes, whether it is from the old unstable, outdated GPU or from an onboard power supply.

birdonthewire
27th Nov 2006, 17:49
According to my cabin crew yesterday, the evacuation horn is apparently very quiet in the cabin, about the level of an electronic game or mobile phone. (In fact, one voiced her concern that she might not hear it at all in flight :O She was new........)

Swedish Steve
27th Nov 2006, 20:37
I always wonder what these eratic power supplies may do to all those little, very expensive black boxes, whether it is from the old unstable, outdated GPU or from an onboard power supply.
Well, when MH started operating B777 to ARN, which has a strict no-APU policy, we asked for two ground power units. Then we found out that there were two FEP cables on the stand. What we didn't know was they were both connected to the same 90kva power supply, which is a bit marginal for a B777. One day the FEP started fluctuating and then failed. After this event it took us about 3 hrs to clear all the faults on the aircraft, and the crew ran out of hours and we nightstopped. A very expensive failure. Since then we use one of the FEP outlets , and a GPU and have had very few problems.