If you can read a technical aviation report, you may want to go straight to this one. The four and a half page National Transportation Safety Board report details an inflight incident where a United Airlines Airbus A320 lost much of its electrical power immediately after takeoff from the Newark Liberty International Airport.
Because of the power loss, many systems stopped working, including three of the six pilot displays, autopilot, autothrottles, landing gear control, all communications radios, and the transponder and TCAS. The ECAM troubleshooting system flashed up messages so quickly that they were erased before the pilots could read or respond to them. They were in good weather, so were able to level off, turn around and land without those systems (the landing gear was stuck down, not up), but that doesn't make it any less of an emergency. An airplane of that sophistication is not designed to be operated just by looking out the window. The co-pilot's screen was also giving false readings and the standby [i.e. emergency backup] attitude indicator gave crazy readings too, before it stopped working altogether on the downwind leg of the circuit. The copilot estimated that if the weather had been bad, and his screen hadn't started working again, the aircraft could have been lost.
Even in good weather, they could have met serious danger. As a footnote points out they were in a large aircraft at low altitude, had failed to make contact with air traffic control, were no longer transmitting the transponder signal that allows ATC to track the aircraft on radar, and were headed for downtown New York. Needless to say, the crew didn't spend a lot of time troubleshooting, just turned back and joined the circuit to land, hoping that the controllers would figure it out. They did, and cleared other traffic out of the way.
Once on the ground, they discovered they had a failure of the #1 electrical bus, but the light indicating the failure had not illuminated in the air. According to Airbus, this is the fiftieth time that electrical bus failures resulted in loss of flight displays, and in some cases all six displays were lost. The failure was consistently difficult to troubleshoot, and in some cases switching manually to the #2 bus did not correct the situation.
A detail that caught my eye is that according to Airbus, the standby attitude indicator is designed to work for five minutes after a power loss. Five minutes?! What possible good is that supposed to do? You can't get anywhere in five minutes. Is that supposed to give you enough time to write a will and make peace with your deity? The NTSB agrees with me here and recommends that Airbus design a backup system that gives a minimum of 30 minutes of standby AI operation, and that the FAA make it mandatory in the US.
It made my muscles feel a little weak, reading that report. Imagine being in cloud, working your asses off to manage an airplane with minimal flight instruments, wondering what hardware was launching to protect New York against you.