An Airbus' Glass Cockpit Goes Dark

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Picture this ... you're the captain of an Airbus A319-131, and you've just taken off from London into a clear night sky, bound for Budapest with 76 passengers on board. Approaching FL200, you hear a "CLUNK" and the cockpit goes dark. No autopilot, no multi-function displays, no radios, just a bit of backup lighting. An airline pilot must now actually fly the airplane. As your co-pilot starts down the checklist, you take manual control of the airplane, and fly by the night horizon outside and what backup instruments you can see. Two minutes into the checklist, the co-pilot pushes a button, and all whirrs back into bright life. That's what happened during a very long two minutes on Oct. 5. With everything back online, the crew spent 40 minutes in a hold checking all the systems, then flew on to Budapest without incident. A mechanic reset the system and put it back in service. The U.K.'s Air Accidents Investigation Board said it checked the systems and found no anomalies, but the investigation is continuing -- a preliminary report is available online. The event adds to those of airliners behaving badly following our last report of a Malaysian Airlines Boeing 777 that seemed hell-bent on crashing itself on a trip from Perth to Kuala Lumpur last Aug. 1.