There was an accident Smartlynx A320 training flights MYX-9001 at Tallinn on Feb 28th 2018, where ELAC pitch control failed due to fault in the stabilizer actuator, and then both SECs failed due to the command and monitor boards responding differently to a short bounce, so only mechanical backup was left for pitch control (fortunately the crew managed to land the aircraft and had just some broken panels).

It is the only instance I heard of where the mechanical backup had to be used. Was there any other incident or accident of an Airbus FBW aircraft (A320 or later model) where only mechanical backup control was available?

  • $\begingroup$ Probably yes, because, Airbus is a pretty old manuafacturer. From the A310, to A380, to A350. So yeah, probably yes. But you can never be sure. $\endgroup$ Apr 12, 2020 at 14:52
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    $\begingroup$ @AirCanada001, the fact that A380 and A350 were certified without mechanical backup suggests otherwise! Yes, none of the aircraft you mention have mechanical backup (the first because it is not a backup, the other two because they don't have any (hydro)mechanical link at all). $\endgroup$
    – Jan Hudec
    Apr 12, 2020 at 17:24
  • $\begingroup$ I guess that's true, but I feel like that just makes the plane more dangerous. And if just the A320 has mechanical backup, just think of how many planes the A320 family has sold! I think we can agree that if we went digging in the crash history of Airbus, we would be able to find more than one. $\endgroup$ Apr 12, 2020 at 17:31
  • $\begingroup$ @AirCanada001, I am actually certain none of the fatal A320 accidents qualifies. Also, yes, may A320 family planes sold, but they had only 47 hull loss accidents, of those only 15 had fatalities and that includes pilot errors and unlawful interference. $\endgroup$
    – Jan Hudec
    Apr 12, 2020 at 18:07
  • $\begingroup$ A rapid search on google + avherald provides no results a part from the Tallinn accident: google.com/search?q=site%3Aavherald.com+%22mechanical+backup%22 $\endgroup$
    – ocirocir
    Feb 24, 2021 at 13:49

1 Answer 1


Probably No. Considering the Design of Airbus Aircraft, Mechanical Backup is only possible in the earliest implementations of FBW (as in the case of A320) have mechanical backup to prevent complete loss of control. The Newer A380s, A350s (specifically) does not have mechanical backup built-in. The A350s has really high-redundancy built-in to prevent a complete loss if control, which is highly unlikely to happen.

The Accident Investigation Report on Page 90 specifically states:

Considering the remoteness of the loss control of both elevators, there is no specific crew training for MECHANICAL BACKUP in pitch during approach, landing and take-off.

This statement provides a hint that such incidents might not have occurred earlier. If such situations were frequent or at-least would have occurred earlier (and investigated) then, it is most likely that crew-training would have been given for using mechanical backup.


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