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Airbus confirms software configuration error caused plane crash

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An executive of Airbus Group has confirmed that the crash of an Airbus A400M military transport was caused by a faulty software configuration. Marwan Lahoud, chief marketing and strategy officer for Airbus, told the German newspaper Handelsblatt on Friday that there was a "quality issue in the final assembly" of the components of the aircraft engine. (arstechnica.com) More...

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sparkie624
sparkie624 4
WOW, I cannot believe they admitted fault.... Now lets see what they do to fix it.
clabo
Probably turn it upside-down and shake it...

From what I gleaned from other reports, the '400 suffered "power frozen" (atrocious syntax notwithstanding), where they ran up the engines fine, took off, slammed the throttles to idle, then when they needed power again, despite what they did, the computer didn't recognise the command to increase throttle and *kept* the engines at idle... all the way into the ground.

Hardly a "minor computer glitch" if you ask me. Forget things like "unintended acceleration" in cars, this makes a big honkin' aluminum tube sink like a brick with nothing to push it along to *stay* in the air!

I'd hate to be on the coding team who wrote *that* piece of control software...
mhlansdell00
Mark Lansdell 0
Just a little computer glitch.
ah6oy
Jim DeTour 3
Sad days these days. Get the sales oriented CEO's out of aviation. They work their way into too many tech oriented corporations loosing track of the reality of real progress spinning tails of how great something is when profit going cheap on internals is the reality. I can see it now when somebody calls the planes software developer and gets transferred to a tech support person in India.
crayanderson
C Anderson 5
I always liked the Rutan model: "Don't tell me how great my airplane is; tell me what's wrong with it so I can make it better."
Locket3
Tom Lull 4
How many Airbus accidents have occurred because of faulty computer input or the inability of the pilot to override it?
preacher1
preacher1 4
inability to override or even recognize it.
mhlansdell00
Mark Lansdell 3
It's been close to 6 years to the day that AF447 fell out of the sky. It was reported the computer confused the pilots and wouldn't allow one pilot to over ride the other. I'm reminded of the old Kingston Trio rendition of "Where Have All the Flowers Gone". "When will we ever learn?"
paultrubits
paul trubits 1
Preacher: just bought a brand new car with one of those new fangled push button starts and no key. The manual is over 700 pages long mostly dealing with how to interface with the computer(my guess the B707 manual wasn't this big)and what to do when something goes wrong with it. No wonder some many people hate Airbus. It must feel like flying an 180 px I-Phone. At least in my car, I can pull over and pull out the manual when the computer S**ts the bed.
mhlansdell00
Mark Lansdell 1
Yup. The wild blue yonder just doesn't seem to have any rest areas to pull into. I wonder what happens when you butt dial an aeroplane.
SWEATINTHSWAMP
That manual is over 700 pages but once you start to read you will see 600 is in some foreign language :(
paultrubits
paul trubits 1
SWEATINTHESWAMP: To me it is. It is all computer computer geek.
tdrucker55
A "software error." Wow. How do they explain that to the widows? How do you Aviate when the airplane won't allow it? Boeing products might be a bit more uncomfortable to fly on a day-to-day basis, but when the sh*& hits the fan, I want full control of the airplane and I want it now. I can't believe Airbus is selling a warplane without triple systems redundancy as well as manual over-ride. I hope they learn from this costly lesson.
mhlansdell00
Mark Lansdell 2
"...the finding means that Airbus will be able to avoid a complete redesign of the A400M's..."

Obviously there has been NO lesson learned. Why do you stop at "war plane"? Don't pax deserve the same safety margins as troops, equipment and ordinance? I repeat my site of AF447 when a computer glitch so confused the flight crew that everyone on board went to the "happy hunting ground" after suspected 4 minute flat spin. I said it to Orville and I said it to Wilber, 'don't make this thing too complicated, someone else is going to have to drive it'.
tdrucker55
Mark, I do believe that passengers deserve all the best. My point is that a warplane has the probability of also sustaining damage or might find itself in a situation where you need "war emergency" power and you need it now or nothing else is going to matter anyway.
mhlansdell00
Mark Lansdell 1
And my point is that power and performance may be needed at any moment in any flight of any aircraft, not just a "war bird". I'm not trying to be pissy, I just don't believe that designed performance capability is unique to military aiircraft.
djames225
djames225 1
Im just glad this engine is only on the A400M...and I agree with you 100%..you would think they learned with AF447 but I guess not...personally...fly an aicraft using a stick and rudder, not some Gameboy joystick!
mhlansdell00
Mark Lansdell 2
As I understand the article, the problem wasn't with the engine(s) but rather the software of the ECU. I don't know the protocols of the aircraft manufacturer, in this case Airbus,. for reviewing the software controlling what we refer to as fly by wire, only one of many routines for the control unit.
djames225
djames225 1
Each engine has its own ECU and I believe what happened is the engines to main ECU configuration software experienced a glitch..computers are not infallible and putting wayy too much trust in them to fly an aircraft is plain wrong...your little analogue earlier said it all " I said it to Orville and I said it to Wilber, 'don't make this thing too complicated, someone else is going to have to drive it'."
mhlansdell00
Mark Lansdell 2
Every once in a while I get both clever and right. Thanks

Your post makes sense since the engines are an off the shelf item. I have to think that the guys at Boeing have the same difficult interface problems where engines are concerned
djames225
djames225 1
The thing is, the engines are custom made only for the A400M so this "software glitch" should not have happened...and u r welcome
mhlansdell00
Mark Lansdell 1
A limited production run, to be sure. If they can't keep them in the air, production will be further limited.
crayanderson
C Anderson 3
Both C-17 and A440M are excellent platforms. The issue some want to discuss is the marginal cost per unit of utility. The real work, then, is to select among the nearly unlimited definitions of the word "utility". So, in my view, the guy who said "The best airplane is the one that suits better for your needs" wins the prize for best comment.
antiguogrumete
Javier Rullan 4
The problem is to establish the real needs of military cargo transport, which can not be the same for all countries

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9x_aiwnihjw
djames225
djames225 0
I have friends in the Royal Air Force who agree with me...Sorry but the A400M is a pile of over priced junk..Many European countries have cut orders for it and are trying to down sell other orders they cannot cut
jbayter
jbayter 1
Im wondering why they took the blame? When all Airbus accident are to blame on the pilots or some other cause but never their fault!!! Since always when think of Airbus, a think of cheap quality and high tech wannabe!
captoso
Needs an off switch on the computer
tdrucker55
In the case of ECUs controlling the engines, I feel like they need to have an emergency-power setting that directly bypasses all the software and goes right to the burners. The B-17 and others had an emergency position on the throttles that was wired shut. If you needed power, and you needed it now, you could shove the throttle up hard and break the wires. You would get the power but at the expense of the life of the engine. I'll bet the poor pilots on the A400 wish they had had such an emergency override.
mhlansdell00
Mark Lansdell 1
You're going back to a whole set of different controls. There are no cables to use to by-pass the computer or engine ECU. It's there in the software as long as someone doesn't take it out with another command. It sounds like that's what happened in this case. The pilot called for power and the programer over wrote the command. Didn't we just go through this with a Boeing problem if you left he batteries on too long, like 6 months. A clock somewhere in the system wouldn't reset and everything would shut down. You can only hope the clock doesn't stop at fl 40.0 somewhere over the mid Atlantic. Now, darn it Wilbur, I told you...
tdrucker55
I think you missed my analogy. As an engineer that has worked on control systems, it would be easy to create a command protocol that completely bypasses or overrides any ECU commands and in fact, it would be surprising if one didn't already exist. Yet, to be completely fail-safe, it needs to have a mechanical interface (button, handle etc) that when activated, completely and utterly overrides the ECU and commands full power without regards for any other input or control. The B-17 analogy was just that. Full manual throttles in airliners have been gone for years.
clabo
Yeah, even old cars with gen1 ECMs had a WOT switch that would do all sorts of fun things. Wouldn't *bypass* the ECM, but tell it to just dump more gas down the pipe for "military thrust" acceleration. :D

And speaking of cars, there's the MISRA coding standard. Wonder if there's any equivalent for planes (or if it's used similarly for any vehicular control).
Inky90
We heard that it's a "quality issue in the final assembly", therefore take the next step by making sure that all the other Airbuses A400M faulty software configuration is functional.
npog99
npog99 1
If it ain't Boeing, I ...
AlexisBV
Engines aren't made by Airbus or Boeing..
djames225
djames225 2
No..but it is amazing that the company's only product is the A400M engine
preacher1
preacher1 0
Well, tis good that they admit it and there will not have to be a redesign, but the only reason they went with a big Turbo Prop like that was to be sure they would get well under the cost of a C17, which would have done the same thing. Go Airbus.
TorstenHoff
Torsten Hoff 8
The C-17 is substantially larger, with about twice the payload of the A400M.

The Europeans don't have the need to quickly transport MBTs halfway around the world, so the C-17 is overkill and would come at a higher operational cost.
btweston
btweston 1
Yeah, I question your analysis.
KauaiGolfer
KauaiGolfer -2
Sooo, having far less payload capacity, and therefore less capability, makes this somehow a better airplane than the C-17? In my experience, when military equipment of any kind is required somewhere in the world, they usually want a lot of it, and not simply MBT's. Could be disaster relief supplies, too. Gimme a C-17 any day.
microwalda
microwalda 13
The best airplane is the one that suits better for your needs.
TorstenHoff
Torsten Hoff 9
Bigger isn't always better. Why do you think Southwest flies 737s everywhere and not 747s? They aren't the right tool for the job.
THRUSTT
THRUSTT 1
Where did he say that???
Capt737Jon
Jonathan Oakes -5
If it ain't Boeing I ain't going. Not I'm not saying Airbus is a no go but it's nowhere near my first choice. I'd rather fly a DC-10 then a bus. If yall know the history of the 10 then y'all know that's saying something.
THRUSTT
THRUSTT 4
I'm assuming when you're treading water 100 miles offshore, you'll wave away the USCG Airbus rescue helicopter and wait for the Pelican...
Capt737Jon
Jonathan Oakes -3
I'm not going over water any time soon... second more then likely a Jayhawk would be the one plucking my butt out of the water IF I were in some. Now if the Dolphin were to come instead I still wouldn't be too worried, I will know that it was made in Grand Prairie, Texas. American made all around, including the engines and electronics.
THRUSTT
THRUSTT 8
So, they're making the Turbomeca engines in Grand Prairie now?
fyitaf
paul mosher 1
They have a office,maybe a service center there.
fyitaf
paul mosher 1
They do build rngines there but for helocopters.
djames225
djames225 1
I believe he was referring to the Dolphin helo
fyitaf
paul mosher 1
C17 is a MD design.
Airgeo
Kmon George -2
This is total culpable HOMICIDE....excuses not allowed....
redbarron70
redbarron70 -1
So r

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