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a320 ECAM gotcha's

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a320 ECAM gotcha's

Old 12th May 2020, 10:33
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a320 ECAM gotcha's

Hi everyone. I just thought it would be useful for all of us to share some ECAM gotcha's we know or we have experienced. I've flown the A320 for a good few years now and I know a few but I am sure I do not know most of them.

I start:

If ENG1 is failed and ENG2 is on fire, the ECAM will ask you to shut ENG2 down! - not something you want to do really.

Your turn, which ones can you share for the benefit of us all?
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Old 12th May 2020, 17:07
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I don't think there are any gotchas any more, really, other than the one you describe. Just read it really carefully (ie don't turn off GEN 2 if it's GEN 1 that failed... &#128577 and remember that there is often useful information in the level 3 text in the FCOM that can aid your decision making.
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Old 12th May 2020, 18:48
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Simply summed up as -Apply airmanship before Ecam.
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Old 12th May 2020, 20:57
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Originally Posted by vikdream View Post

If ENG1 is failed and ENG2 is on fire
HAHAHA

Waking up and going to work is what gotcha. Should've stayed in bed

Please don't tell me your airline gave you this in training.
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Old 12th May 2020, 21:05
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Originally Posted by tubby linton View Post
Simply summed up as -Apply airmanship before Ecam.
This site needs a “like” button. Keeping up on your systems knowledge is also a good way to avoid traps.
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Old 13th May 2020, 03:06
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If ENG1 is failed and ENG2 is on fire, the ECAM will ask you to shut ENG2 down! - not something you want to do really.
It may be interesting to discuss the options if one is not in the immediate vicinity of an airport.
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Old 13th May 2020, 06:57
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Besides the memory items (and even then somewhat) THINK before DO.

ECAMs are not to memorise, but what I did as study notes is write out the steps of the ECAM and beside each step note WHY that button is being pushed and WHAT will happen then.
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Old 13th May 2020, 07:46
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Was the issue identified in the simulator or elsewhere.

Has Airbus been asked to comment, to confirm or otherwise that the aircraft is the same. If not why not, what specific inputs does the ECAM consider.

What is the manufacturer's advice on ECAM / checklist use - think before do, or a mix of must do vs should do, and what aspects should be considered and when. Would this advice differ between ECAM and FCOM.
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Old 13th May 2020, 08:00
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Reaching my ATPL check ride at about 2500 total, a friendly captain mentioned in a discussion: "That old mantra to Aviate, Navigate, Communicate and Manage the Systems".

That got my attention, before that day I never heard there were 4 elements. Probably not even any time since, including echoes within the PPRuNe. With the technology and inherent procedures of contemporary Airbus, such 4 stepped dance works very well.

One of the ECAM perils is its existence itself if not properly understood. In this respect the necessary repetition of EFATO drills every SIM complicates things a bit on the liveware side, creating a room to form a wrong habit of acting the ECAM lines straight away, instead of thinking first.

A case for my point: How many pilots and airlines you know, who'd say "ECAM action - I have communication". Formally not required and implied by the task sharing rules, but you cannot really fault their urge. Compare that to how many people you know who'd shout "confirm the malfunction"?

With a pencil and paper in hand, reading the FCTM, one can count 7 maybe 9 cognitive steps needed before calling "ECAM ACTIONS". That is my gotcha.

N.B. by definition, if it's on the ECAM it is not a critical task.

FCTM ECAM / ABN PROC trivia:
  • NORMAL OPERATIONS: The first responsibility of the PM is to MONITOR the flight path, the navigation [...]
What is the first responsibility of PM under ABNORMAL OPERATIONS? (closed book question)

Last edited by FlightDetent; 13th May 2020 at 17:56.
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Old 13th May 2020, 17:45
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Originally Posted by Airmann View Post
HAHAHA

Waking up and going to work is what gotcha. Should've stayed in bed

Please don't tell me your airline gave you this in training.
I think this is an excellent scenario to give in a initial training.
Lots of people tend to blindly follow procedures when new on an aircraft because there is so much new stuff to get through.
Such an failure might "wake them up again" and force them again to stay thinking for themselves again.
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Old 13th May 2020, 18:46
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One would hope they’d wake up before pushing the fire button or moving the engine master.
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Old 13th May 2020, 18:52
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Originally Posted by the_stranger View Post
I think this is an excellent scenario to give in a initial training.
Lots of people tend to blindly follow procedures when new on an aircraft because there is so much new stuff to get through.
This is a horrifying example of the acceptance that basic training made up of SOPs and dogma without airmanship involved at all are the norm. No trainee aviator should ever be permitted to have slumped into such a supine mindset before being allowed to transition onto a 'new aircraft'. Indeed, they should never have ben permitted to graduate from the previous one!

This is simply the root of what so many modern accidents are made of.

Last edited by meleagertoo; 13th May 2020 at 19:07.
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Old 14th May 2020, 15:54
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Originally Posted by Check Airman View Post
One would hope they’d wake up before pushing the fire button or moving the engine master.
You'd hope so, but I've seen more than one person shut down the only engine that was developing thrust. To be fair, I've seen that happen with the same exercise on a type without ECAM, so it's not a specific Airbus issue!
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Old 15th May 2020, 08:47
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Because it is intrinsically human to act on impulse when overloaded. And thus there is value in SIM scenarios where the trainees get served more than they can handle, although careful guidance of the instructor is needed to stay on the beneficial side.

Given the choice in a possible real-life complex engine fail event, as a pax I'd rather sit behind a jockey whose hand had slipped in the forming years compared to a virgin.

This is simply the root of what so many modern accidents are made of.
Modern accidents are made of the same old good stuff that has always worked: Complacency, incompetence and fatigue. Far easier to sort with fresh colleagues, as opposed to experienced bums if their motivation got eroded through various perils of life.

Last edited by FlightDetent; 16th May 2020 at 09:39.
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Old 16th May 2020, 04:31
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Because it is intrinsically human to act on impulse when overloaded
Had a C & T who taught that to all pilots on a conversion to a new type helo, everyone fell for it. Previous type had the fire handles top centre below the instrument panel coaming, ie in full view. New type had had this caption just under the panel coaming directly in front of each pilot. Throttles, fuel shut off and fire handles were in the overhead.

Trick played was at the end of a training sortie and the engine cool down requirements had been met he would give you an engine fire, right hand caption in the block of four, #2 engine, right? Well, everyone grabbed the #2 engine fire handle which also closed the fuel shut off and closed the throttle. Problem always was the fire he simulated was in #1 engine. Lesson, cockpit ergonomics of having the fire warning caption immediately above the #2 engine out caption, AND LOOK AT THE FIRE HANDLE TO SEE WHICH ONE IS LIT.
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Old 19th May 2020, 11:10
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SOP on all the fleets I have flown was to ALWAYS cross confirm with PF any thrust lever, engine master switch and fire push button BEFORE moving them. That surely is day-one of multi-engine flying training ??

That helicopter fire warning panel is awful design - just asking for problems. Like the engine instrument display panels in the B737 at Kegworth.


If ENG1 is failed and ENG2 is on fire, the ECAM will ask you to shut ENG2 down! - not something you want to do really.
....Unless Eng 2 is about to take out hydraulics, or fuel tank, or wing?. Depends on the situation - at least you can fly a FBW Airbus with no engines, and you might be able to restart Eng 1.

People much cleverer than I, have determined the ECAM priorities. They are probably right.
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Old 19th May 2020, 14:54
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Suggesting to shutdown Engine on fire is proper nothing wrong with that. You may not want to at the moment is a different matter. If on approach then you may not but if there's no airfield nearby the engine needs to be shut down rather than wait till it explodes. Off course you would have identified the forced landing field.
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Old 20th May 2020, 07:57
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ECAM Status showing "CAT 2" with no ECAM past or present. Explain that.
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Old 20th May 2020, 08:42
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RAD Alt fail or disagree.

No pilot action recommended to restore, hence no ECAM.
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Old 20th May 2020, 08:50
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Originally Posted by Smooth Airperator View Post
ECAM Status showing "CAT 2" with no ECAM past or present. Explain that.
DSC-22_30-110 "Spurious CAT 2 INOP"

Too lazy to quote it.
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