Friday, February 6, 2015

Aussie Pilot Writes the Airbus Rap

Writing a book is not all about writing. This weekend, I've added  Boeing Versus Airbus, the 2007 John Newhouse book about, yeah, that's right and Kenny Kemp's Flight of the Titans Airbus A380 vs. Boeing 787 Dreamliners, which I just downloaded on my Kindle, to my reading list. This will fill my Saturday and Sunday and both books may end up in the bibliography of The Crash Detectives.

That's a lot of reading even for a snowy weekend, so in order to get started, I'm leaving the Flying Lessons wordsmithing to my Aussie friend Stephen Tomkins, a former Boeing pilot who now flies the Airbus. His "rap" on his conversion comes from his blog at


Stephen Tomkins, pilot and poet
By Stephen Tomkins
29 March 2014

For those who don’t speak chic Français,
My footnotes might help ease the way!

Yo! You fools! I’m Stevie T!
I’ve got a message so listen to me!
That Boeing Crew just gives us crap,
That’s why I made “The Airbus Rap”.

They seem to think they’re the only ones
Who can fly a plane – they’re all Top Guns!
We Airbus guys, though, know the truth.
We’ve done our testing, got the proof!

 With trusty sidestick at my side,
That Normal Law[1] gives one sweet ride.
We’re autothrusting up and down,
Trimming’s[2] for fools! You crazy clowns!

Triple Click[3]! Triple Click! Yeah! What I say!
A Cavalry Charge[4] and I’m away!
With autopilot now disconnected,
My flying skills are resurrected.

Wrestling Fifi[5]? No! No! No!
You’ll come unstuck, that’s not the go!
With sweet caress, you’ve got to treat her.
Trust me now – not trying to preach ya!

Airbus loves its acronyms
So learn them all or you’ll seem dim.
The AADs[6] the place to start;
Get moving now and learn them by heart!
Sometimes Airbus can be unkind
But don’t you pay it any mind.
She says some things I won’t repeat
As wheels and runway gently meet.

The Boeing guys still seem to grapple
With Fly By Wire stuff made by Apple,
And even though that’s not quite right,
The concept still gives them a fright.

They see our flight deck, start to frown
But who would want it painted brown[7]?
We eat our meals off sliding tables[8].
Our flight controls don’t need no cables!

By FMAs[9], we live and die.
Without them, Fifi wouldn’t fly.
A daily litany of them we pray;
It’s another language! No cliché!

Which brings me to my favourite part
(And that includes cool autostart!)
By phase of flight she changes screens!
I’ve yet to find out what that means!

Mon Dieu! I can’t believe the time!

To go on so long! It’s just a crime!
By Airbus cleverness, we’re inspired!
We hope by now, you’re not too tired.

You Boeing dudes are still our friends
And here’s how you can make amends:
Stop talking ‘bout your moving sticks[10]
Defect to Airbus! Quick! Quick! Quick!

To those who’ve not yet seen the light:
Give ‘Bus a go, it’s quite alright!
When not flying, Tomkins writes at

[1] The normal operating system for Airbus Fly By Wire (FBW) flight controls.
[2] Manual trimming of the elevators (when in manual flight) is required on Boeing but done automatically on Airbus.
[3] The warning sound made when a flight mode changes automatically to a more basic mode.
[4] The warning sound made when the autopilot disengages.
[5] An affectionate (?) name given to Airbus aircraft.
[6] AAD is an acronym for Airbus Abbreviation Dictionary – 91 pages of funky acronyms!
[7] Boeing flight decks were, for some time, painted in “pleasing tones of brown” while Airbus flight decks are grey.
[8] Airbus aircraft have retractable tables in front of the pilots, made possible by the absence of large control columns (which Boeing retains) between the pilots’ legs.
[9] FMA is an acronym for Flight Mode Annunciator/Annunciation
[10] Moving thrust levers (when autothrottle/autothrust is engaged) is a major and contentious point of difference between the two manufacturers.
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