new Airbus superduper jumbo jet unsafe?

LethalWolfe

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A year ago, Mangan told European aviation authorities that he believed there were problems with a computer chip on the Airbus A380, the biggest and costliest commercial airliner ever built. The A380 is a double-decked engineering marvel that will carry as many as 800 passengers — double the capacity of Boeing Co.'s 747. It is expected to enter airline service next year.

Mangan alleges that flaws in a microprocessor could cause the valves that maintain cabin pressure on the A380 to accidentally open during flight, allowing air to leak out so rapidly that everyone aboard could lose consciousness within seconds.

It's a lethal scenario similar to the 1999 crash that killed professional golfer Payne Stewart and five others when their Learjet lost cabin pressure and they blacked out. The plane flew on autopilot for hours before crashing in South Dakota.
Unfortunately there are no "whistle-blower" laws in Austria so Mr. Mangan and his family aren't doing too well.

Link


Lethal
 

Superdrive

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Oct 21, 2003
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What makes the chip on the A380 different than the one on any other plane? Payne Stewart's plane wasn't an Airbus. Maybe someone has something else to add. All I know is that unless you live near MEM, JFK, LAX, or SFO, you probably won't see an A380 in the US for a very long time. To my friends in Europe and beyond, your chances are a little better than mine.
 

snkTab

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Nov 13, 2004
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Some of this wistleblower stuff, is sometimes not that great. It doesn't say anywhere that Airbus is aware of this issue and refused to correct it and it doesn't start entering fleets till next year.

Basically, all products have open issues, even the most simpliest of ones, and this one's huge. Taking an issue that could cause something... and making it public is just stupid.

This sounds like that one US case where the government paid millions to fund this whistleblower case only to find out that the whistleblower was the one in charge of finding errors, reporting them, and fixing them.... all of which he never did.
 

bousozoku

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Jun 25, 2002
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If it has parts from Transicoil, it could probably do that. Their Quality Assurance department and Mechanical Engineering people were sometimes at odds, usually going with the least, instead of the most being checked.
 

LethalWolfe

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Superdrive said:
What makes the chip on the A380 different than the one on any other plane? Payne Stewart's plane wasn't an Airbus. Maybe someone has something else to add. All I know is that unless you live near MEM, JFK, LAX, or SFO, you probably won't see an A380 in the US for a very long time. To my friends in Europe and beyond, your chances are a little better than mine.
Stewart was used as an example of where this type of valve failure quickly knocked out everyone on board and caused a fatal crash.

Towards the top of the 2nd page of the article it talks about how planes usually have pressure valves setup and how Airbus (in order to save weight) have theirs setup on the A380. Basically, most large planes have 2 cabin-pressure valves operated by separate motors. For redundancy there are three motors for each valve and each motor is controlled by a different chip (the Boeing 777 uses 1 AMD, 1 Intel, and 1 Motorola chip). There is also a manual override the pilot can use. The A380 has 4 valves. Each valve only has one motor. And each motor is controlled by a TTTech chip. And there is no manual override.

Also, TTTech has a lot ridding on this because if they use their off-the-shelf chips w/o any modifications they don't need to go through an expensive and stringent safety review. Plus the A380 is already a year behind schedule so I'm sure the last thing they want is another delay.


Lethal
 

Chaszmyr

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Aug 9, 2002
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LethalWolfe said:
Basically, most large planes have 2 cabin-pressure valves operated by separate motors. For redundancy there are three motors for each valve and each motor is controlled by a different chip (the Boeing 777 uses 1 AMD, 1 Intel, and 1 Motorola chip). There is also a manual override the pilot can use. The A380 has 4 valves. Each valve only has one motor. And each motor is controlled by a TTTech chip. And there is no manual override.
To further clarify, it says later in the article, that according to Mangan, since they are all controlled by the same chip, and any potential flaws are in the chip design, if any problem arose, it would effect all 4 valves simultaneously.
 

Counterfit

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Aug 20, 2003
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Chaszmyr said:
To further clarify, it says later in the article, that according to Mangan, since they are all controlled by the same chip, and any potential flaws are in the chip design, if any problem arose, it would effect all 4 valves simultaneously.
Now THAT would suck. Time to take a page from the space and military books.

*whacks AirBus over the head with brick shaped as "Redundancy"*
 

thomasp

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Sep 18, 2004
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LethalWolfe said:
Plus the A380 is already a year behind schedule so I'm sure the last thing they want is another delay.
I heard a while ago that there was only a 6 month delay, and that was due to the airlines wanting more complex cabins than Airbus had bargained for. That was acoording to a Channel4 documentary broadcast a few months back in the UK.
 

FireArse

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Oct 29, 2004
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Does this remind anyone of Concorde?

Hey all,

I can't help but think of the FUD surrounding Concorde in the '70s when I read something like this.

"Crap, the Europeans are doing something better than us, lets badmouth it enough so the general American public don't wanna ride that plane over our 40-year old designed 747's"

This therefore leaves the market open to only European and Eastern Carriers. Airbus will make a profit by making this plane, they will cover the costs to develop, but by how much?

I'm a reliability engineer - Redundancy is the way no doubt about it.

I for one cannot wait to ride this thing. I hope it may reduce the fares for First & Business Class.

FireArse
 

mpw

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Jun 18, 2004
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LethalWolfe said:
...For redundancy there are three motors for each valve and each motor is controlled by a different chip (the Boeing 777 uses 1 AMD, 1 Intel, and 1 Motorola chip). There is also a manual override the pilot can use....
Yet the article talks of two crashes attributed to the failure of these triple redundancy systems.

Are there any documented cases where one specific chip has failed where the others haven't and averted depressurization?

I’m also on the side that redundancy would be best but I’m wondering whether there is any evidence that this is required through past experience or just seems like a good idea.
 

LethalWolfe

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thomasp,
I don't know much about the A380, but the article in my OP says it's 1 year behind. Airbus could have hit another snag by the time the program you watched aired.


FireArse,
So do you think the article is FUD or do you think the lack of redundancy is an unnecessary risk?

mpw,
I'm sure the amount of redundancy is based on past experience as well as playing it safe. I mean, if things fail while in flight it's not a good thing. It's not like you can just pull off to the side of the road or anything. My g'friend's dad is a pilot (hobby, not professional) and all the main instruments in his plane are triple redundant. IIRC 2 sets of computer driven instruments and 1 set of mechanical instruments. So even if his electrical system goes up in smoke he'll still have the mechanical instruments to fly by.


Lethal
 

Counterfit

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Aug 20, 2003
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JFreak said:
literally!! :)
Good catch. My pun was certainly not intended :cool:

FireArse said:
"Crap, the Europeans are doing something better than us, lets badmouth it enough so the general American public don't wanna ride that plane over our 40-year old designed 747's"
Well, except the 747 wasn't built in the 1930's. The first delivery was in 1968.

Ahh, WikiPedia, what would I do without you? :)
 

joeconvert

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Nov 18, 2003
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LethalWolfe said:
Unfortunately there are no "whistle-blower" laws in Austria so Mr. Mangan and his family aren't doing too well.

Lethal
And everybody always beats up ont he US Government for selling out to coporate interests.
 

joeconvert

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Nov 18, 2003
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FireArse said:
Hey all,

I can't help but think of the FUD surrounding Concorde in the '70s when I read something like this.

"Crap, the Europeans are doing something better than us, lets badmouth it enough so the general American public don't wanna ride that plane over our 40-year old designed 747's"

FireArse
747-400s are quite modernized compared to the original design. The 747-400 has had the lowest cost per passenger air mile in the history of aviation. Additionally, US air carriers have told Boeing time and again that they aren't interested in a 747-400 replacement. US carriers are mainly interested more point to point type aircraft to start a shift away from the hub/spoke concept and better imitate the more profitable low cost carriers.
 

AoWolf

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Nov 17, 2003
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FireArse said:
Hey all,

I can't help but think of the FUD surrounding Concorde in the '70s when I read something like this.

"Crap, the Europeans are doing something better than us, lets badmouth it enough so the general American public don't wanna ride that plane over our 40-year old designed 747's"

This therefore leaves the market open to only European and Eastern Carriers. Airbus will make a profit by making this plane, they will cover the costs to develop, but by how much?

I'm a reliability engineer - Redundancy is the way no doubt about it.

I for one cannot wait to ride this thing. I hope it may reduce the fares for First & Business Class.

FireArse
The Concorde is an interesting reference. The reason boeing didn't go out and poor money into making something even bigger then the 747 is because its the sweet spot. This new Airbus is so huge that very few airports will be supporting it. Rather then thinking bigger must be better boeing is focusing its efforts on newer more economical airplanes such as the 787 . Most of the worlds flying is not done on jumbo jets. Where is that Concorde today...
 

mpw

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Jun 18, 2004
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AoWolf said:
...Where is that Concorde today...
I assume you're what you're getting at is that Concorde was uneconomical rather than it being in direct competition to a 747 in the way the A830 will be.

Concorde was a fantastic aircraft catering to a niche market that was killed by oil prices and general industry hardship following 9/11.

I've no love for modern air travel but would rather see smaller aircraft just so they can be turned around quicker. I dread to think what it'll be like in a few months when I'm boarding an A830. I like to think I'm a good traveler, I'll get on find my seat, stow my single carry-on and be ready to go while 799 other passengers file on and then inevitable mill about like lost children unable to find their seats while carrying their numerous bags and then getting up to use the toilet only to be told that they can’t and could they return to their seat, which they can’t find again. Then they weren’t there for the head count so that’ll need to be done again, but not before they start asking how long the flight’ll be and where’s the food service. Then they need something from the overhead baggage etc. etc. :mad:

…And don’t get me started on what’s to hate about air travel just getting through the airport! :mad:
 

AoWolf

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Nov 17, 2003
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mpw said:
I assume you're what you're getting at is that Concorde was uneconomical rather than it being in direct competition to a 747 in the way the A830 will be.

Concorde was a fantastic aircraft catering to a niche market that was killed by oil prices and general industry hardship following 9/11.

I've no love for modern air travel but would rather see smaller aircraft just so they can be turned around quicker. I dread to think what it'll be like in a few months when I'm boarding an A830. I like to think I'm a good traveler, I'll get on find my seat, stow my single carry-on and be ready to go while 799 other passengers file on and then inevitable mill about like lost children unable to find their seats while carrying their numerous bags and then getting up to use the toilet only to be told that they can’t and could they return to their seat, which they can’t find again. Then they weren’t there for the head count so that’ll need to be done again, but not before they start asking how long the flight’ll be and where’s the food service. Then they need something from the overhead baggage etc. etc. :mad:

…And don’t get me started on what’s to hate about air travel just getting through the airport! :mad:
Well my point with the concord was that it died because although it was a fantastic aircraft it just wasn't practical. But what you just described is the bigest flaw with the A830. The size makes it very difficult to handle and many airports will not be able to support it.
 

gwuMACaddict

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Apr 21, 2003
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i still fail to see the point of this damn plane anyway...

it already takes to long to load and board a normal sized plane. this thing is going to be a mess.
 

whocares

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gwuMACaddict said:
i still fail to see the point of this damn plane anyway...

it already takes to long to load and board a normal sized plane. this thing is going to be a mess.
It's going to be ok, they're 're-tooling' airports to accomodate it. ;) :p :p :p
Yeah, right, like that's gonna work! :rolleyes:

I fully agree to my great disapointment that Boeing got it right and Airbus didn't. :(
 

AoWolf

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whocares said:
It's going to be ok, they're 're-tooling' airports to accomodate it. ;) :p :p :p
Yeah, right, like that's gonna work! :rolleyes:

I fully agree to my great disapointment that Boeing got it right and Airbus didn't. :(
Being a from seattle I can't say I agree with you ;)

My biggest fear is that airbus is pushing this thing out the door way to fast. I mean think about if one of these things crashes do to some small flaw. Not only will you have one of the largest air disasters on your hands but the lawsuits would be crazy!
 

California

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Aug 21, 2004
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I don't know if you guys heard about the Jet Blue plane that was forced to an early landing in LA -- Burbank airport last week because of faulty landing gear on the AirBus.

That's probably why the agiprop LA TIMES was thinking about Airbus.

I don't understand the whole government subsidy thing with Boeing and how the EU underwrites Airbus, but it makes me uncomfortable.

747s were designed in the sixties, everyone knows that. So were the last fleet of just retiring US fighter jets, making way for the 80's designs; and I'll bet the Airbus was designed around that time, too. The Cold War made for good engineering. Just ask NASA in light of their space shuttle nightmares due to bad re engineering on the shuttle's foam insulation.
 

mac 2005

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Apr 1, 2005
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FireArse said:
Hey all,

I can't help but think of the FUD surrounding Concorde in the '70s when I read something like this.
Not sure that the Concorde is a great example with respect to fear, uncertainty and doubt. You'll recall that the Concorde had a fatal design flaw that resulted in the death of dozens of passengers when a landing gear mishap destroyed the aircraft.