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Airbus A380 Under Fire 587

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the u.s.-laws-that-aren't-so-bad dept.
jose parinas writes "The security of the Airbus A380 jetliner is questioned by a U.S. Engineer that faces arrest and bankruptcy in Austria. 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."
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Airbus A380 Under Fire

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  • ha (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 01, 2005 @08:06PM (#13695468)
    This story will never get off the ground.
  • easy (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Dance_Dance_Karnov (793804) on Saturday October 01, 2005 @08:09PM (#13695482) Homepage
    Take chip, look for problem, if exists fix and replace. It isn't like they would have to rebuild the whole plane.
    • Re:easy (Score:5, Informative)

      by Cylix (55374) on Saturday October 01, 2005 @08:16PM (#13695513) Homepage Journal
      Except now the chip has to be recertified for aviation.

      In effect, the article states it has already been modified and there was some sentiment that it really should be re-certified yet once again.

    • by CyricZ (887944) on Saturday October 01, 2005 @08:20PM (#13695534)
      Let us assume that a problem is found. But even if it is fixed, then how can we know for sure that other problemtic parts were used? If this chip was able to get through the engineering screening process, perhaps other faulty componentry was used as well. A fault here could, in theory, make need for a complete analysis of every single part used. And in a plane this size, that's a massive amount of time and effort.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 01, 2005 @08:32PM (#13695577)
        Read the article again. This chip didn't "get through." According to the whistle blower, the company forged his signature on documents approving the chip. If true that means they knew about the problem and tried to cover it up.
    • by guardiangod (880192) on Saturday October 01, 2005 @08:29PM (#13695565)
      If you care enough to RTFA, you will see the following line

      Yet his employer ignored his concerns, he alleges, because fixing the glitches would be costly, could take up to a year and would further delay the A380's launch.(a year behind already)

    • Re:easy (Score:2, Informative)

      by saj_s (667330)
      And given the fact that they've only built about 3 A380's so far, it should be pretty easy to do!
    • Re:easy (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      The problem isn't just with the chip. The problem is that where typically these systems on commercial airlines are triply redundant (from three different manufacturers, even) for safety, plus a manual override, the Airbus has only one system and no manual override. But Airbus wanted to save some weight, and cut out the backups. Bringing the system up to customary standards would indeed require a lot of redesign.
      • As my father's one of the lead software engineers designing those, and they're quad-redundant within each box, and I think he mentioned something about 2 or 3 in this specific one. Might be wrong, it's been awhile since I've talked to him about it though.
        • by Slashamatic (553801) on Sunday October 02, 2005 @05:46AM (#13697508)
          For the A320, all critical systems used a minimum of two chip architectures and 3 independent software solutions working from the same closely controlled spec but otherwise not communicating. A friend worked on one of the computers there.

          I can't see what would be different for the 380. the only point is whether the pressure control system was considered to be critical enough to be fully backed up.

    • Re:easy (Score:3, Insightful)

      One of his key concerns is that all the chips used to control the pressure valves are of the same type. Historically, this has been considered a risk because any logic flaw could cause all the chips to fail simultaneously: an extremely dangerous possibility. This is apart from the claim that such logic flaws do currently exist in the chip and the company tried to cover them up (to the extent of forging his signature). According to TFA, alternative methods would lead to extra weight and throw off the whol
      • Still... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by autopr0n (534291) on Sunday October 02, 2005 @03:00AM (#13697095) Homepage Journal
        He's an American (as am I, just for the record) so people might think that he's a Boeing spy. If this guy can spread even a little doubt about the safety of the A380's safety, it could end up making hundreds of millions of dollars for Boeing. There is a lot of espionage in the Aerospace industry.

        This isn't just a disagreement, someone is lying here, and with geopolitical stakes what they are, who knows...
    • Not Quite (Score:4, Informative)

      by WindBourne (631190) on Saturday October 01, 2005 @10:25PM (#13696079) Journal
      1. Finding the problem is sporting.
      2. From there, you then have the programmer(s) test it and make sure that there are no more issues.
      3. Once that has passed, then you have the test group re-design a set of new tests and test them as well.
      4. Once there, an internal auditor goes over your work.
      5. From there, an Airbus auditor goes over said work.
      6. Then an EU FAA-equivilence auditor.
      7. Then an American FAA auditor.
      Just that little bit of a fix, takes no less than 9 months (normally closer to 1.5 years). Delaying the A380 will cause serious issues right now. In fact, there are probably performance clauses penalties associated with this that would probably sink TTTech (hence the reason why they want to cheat).

      BTW, if you wish to argue with me over this (and some idiot will ), I currently do the coding of the test for the data AND APIs of an american unit that be in the cockpit of the A-380 (and other aircrafts). I have found out that getting this level C cert. has been very sporting.
    • Re:easy (Score:3, Informative)

      by iamwahoo2 (594922)
      The problem is that there is no redundancy in the system. You can never guarantee that a system is 100% failsafe and in safety critical systems you counter this by adding redundancy into the system. Why else would Boeing put triple redundancy in cabin pressurization valves for their aircraft? They do not like spending extra money or adding weight anymore than Airbus. It will of course come back to haunt Airbus if this gets more publicity.
  • Autopilot (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Cthefuture (665326) on Saturday October 01, 2005 @08:15PM (#13695510)
    The story about the plane losing pressure then flying on autopilot before crashing is interesting. Doesn't the plane know it has lost cabin pressure? If it's on autopilot why can't it reduce altitude so the people can regain consciousness? Hell, why can't it just declare an emergency and automatically land at the nearest airport after receiving an OK signal from the airport that it's safe to land.

    We have all this technology but it's implemented by idiots.
    • Re:Autopilot (Score:3, Informative)

      by LWATCDR (28044)
      It really is just not that easy. What happens if the sensor fails?
      What happens if it is on a trans pacific flight and there is no good place to land?
      What if there is more than one airport in range? How does it know where to land?
      What if you do include a datalink so remote control of the plane is possible? How do you secure it?
      Frankly the rapid and total loss of pressure is very rare.
    • Re:Autopilot (Score:5, Informative)

      by rv8 (661242) on Saturday October 01, 2005 @09:11PM (#13695733) Homepage

      1. There are already multiple possible failures that could cause a depressurization (cabin window failure, door failure, engine rotor burst, crew error, etc). The design requirements call for systems to alert the crew if the cabin altitude exceeds normal values, and there must be oxygen masks that they can don within 5 seconds. The operational requirements call for the crews to be properly trained in the use of these masks, etc. So even if this chip has a problem, it doesn't necessarily create a new safety issue. Of course, the problem, if it exists, should be corrected.

      2. Some business jet aircraft do have an autopilot mode that will automatically descend the aircraft if the cabin altitude exceeds a certain value (several Cessna Citation models, some Gulfstream models, latest Bombardier Global Express, etc). These aircraft often cruise at altitudes up to 51,000 ft, which is quite a bit higher than the maximum altitude for the A380 (apparently 43,000 ft, but typical cruise altitudes will be lower than that). The smaller cabin volume of the business jets mean the cabin depressurizes much quicker, given a similar failure.

  • TTTech? Are these the people that made the PPPowerbook? No wonder shit don't work.
  • Offer (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mysqlrocks (783488) on Saturday October 01, 2005 @08:16PM (#13695516) Homepage Journal
    TTTech has offered to drop its legal action against Mangan, court records show, and pay him three months of severance, if he retracts his statements.

    This doesn't sound like much after all he's been through.
    • Re:Offer (Score:4, Insightful)

      by nutshell42 (557890) on Saturday October 01, 2005 @09:35PM (#13695826) Journal
      This doesn't sound like much after all he's been through

      It sounds like much more than he deserves if he really started spreading FUD after it was clear that he was going to lose his job.

      The only way to decide whether he is a whistle blower or a liar that tries to make some cash by blackmailing his former employer and Airbus is to have an independent review of the chip in question. Airbus said they did that but of course they're biased.

  • by antek9 (305362) on Saturday October 01, 2005 @08:18PM (#13695527)
    Let's just hope at least slashdot does keep its hands out of the propaganda war already started between Boeing (US) and Airbus Industries (EU). It's a dirty economical struggle, its about jobs and profits in the US, or jobs and profits in Europe. And because of that, plus the military aspects of aircraft research and development, both companies are, and will always be heavily funded by the respective governments.
    Keep that in mind before making mindless posts about A. vs. B. . Thanks for your time.
    • by guardiangod (880192) on Saturday October 01, 2005 @08:33PM (#13695587)
      Well when it concerns about the lives of 800+ men, women, and children. I think it is safe to think that we better get it right the first time around. If we don't, welll... This is not a matter of US vs world- if the plane has known flaws, yet it is still certify to fly for cost/politic reason...I want to see heads rolling- and not from my side either.
    • by niXcamiC (835033) on Saturday October 01, 2005 @08:41PM (#13695620)
      RTFA! It says that both Airbus AND Boeing are going to be useing this new chip. It seems like people go out of their way to trash stories, when they have no idea what there talking about.
    • It's not mindless, it's about whether you're in Camp A, or Camp B. The more people in the US supporting Boeing, the better for them. The more support for Airbus, the better for us. It's fairly elementary - and so, as a European, I support Airbus and am delighted to see its rise at the expense of Boeing.

      And so, I'm unsurprisingly prejudiced and hope the concern raised in this news item doesn't turn out to be a real issue.

      No point in pretending to be impartial really - as long as people aren't getting all nas
    • by Thu25245 (801369) on Saturday October 01, 2005 @11:47PM (#13696406)
      Since the beginning of Airbus vs. Boeing (Indeed, since Boeing vs. Lockheed vs. Douglas) there has been one rule:

      Don't impugn the safety of the competitor's aircraft.

      By and large, these huge, competitive companies have all followed that rule. They bribed, called in political favors, exaggerated, waged huge PR campaigns against their competitors...but nobody at Airbus claims that a 737 is unsafe, and nobody at Boeing claims that an A320 is unsafe. Because everybody knows that passengers don't know squat about aircraft, and that the flying public only flies because it has faith that all flying machines are equally, perfectly, safe.

      There have been a few minor skirmishes over the years, several having to do with the number of engines needed to safely carry a plane over an ocean. But all of the players (which is, both of them now) have largely refrained from saying "The other guy's planes will fall out of the sky!"

      If this is a Boeing PR move, it's a dangerous and stupid one.
      • by sonamchauhan (587356) <sonamcNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Sunday October 02, 2005 @02:44AM (#13697035) Journal
        This does not look like a Boeing PR move. This looks like a honest-to-goodness engineer sticking to his ethics.

        From the article [latimes.com]:

        "Unlike U.S. laws that shield whistle-blowers from corporate retaliation, Austrian laws offer no such protection. Last year an Austrian judge imposed an unusual gag order on Mangan, seeking to stop him from talking about the case.

        Mangan posted details about the case anyway in his own Internet blog. The Austrian court fined him $185,000 for violating the injunction. ...

        To help pay living expenses and legal fees, Mangan sold his house in Kansas. With only about $300 left in his bank account, Mangan missed a Sept. 8 deadline to pay his $185,000 fine and faces up to a year in jail. Next month he's likely to be called before a judge on his criminal case.

        The family expected to be evicted this month from their apartment, but their church in Vienna took up a collection to pay their rent. ...

        TTTech has offered to drop its legal action against Mangan, court records show, and pay him three months of severance, if he retracts his statements. But Mangan has refused.

        Mangan said he was looking for a new job. He has contacted dozens of aerospace firms in the U.S. and Europe, but none have returned his calls. "Nobody wants to touch me," he said."

  • The next concorde? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Dingo_aus (905721)
    The fact that the company forged his signature on internal certifications should be enough to throw the burden of proof on the company. What worries me about this chip is "The system was executing "unpredictable" commands when it received certain data, possibly causing the pressure valves to open accidentally" So with the right junk data the system fails........at 30,000 feet, great :( Why are they moving away from using several chips from several manufacturers to reduce the risk? Will this be the next
  • I can't stand squealers; hit that guy. -- Albert Anastasia
  • by freeweed (309734) on Saturday October 01, 2005 @08:24PM (#13695544)
    After all, it's easy to lose your daughter on one.

    To top it off, the flight attendants just don't care :(
  • by br00tus (528477) on Saturday October 01, 2005 @08:24PM (#13695547)
    The story begins with a portrait that tries to paint this fellow sympathetically, and I normally would look on him sympathetically. He goes to the government and complains about problems he perceives, and he gets fired. The events transpire, and eventually a judge tells him to be quiet. By now this is out in the public - he is an American with a family in a foreign city and if he had a need to do something he did it. But then he violates the judges order and begins posting about this on a blog? It makes me think there's something more to the story, or as aviation consultant Weber says "There is something really unusual about this case in the sense that there is this hard standoff between Airbus and the individual, it doesn't make any sense to me." It doesn't make sense - him violating a judges order doesn't make sense, them filing criminal charges doesn't make sense. There seems to be something more at work here. I'll read more about this, but both parties are acting unusual to the point where I am really on neither side, whereas normally I suppose I would be on his side.
    • Well, you know, in the history of aviation, it has been that manufacturers have always been out to fix their products with a religous fervor. Of course, in history it was generally common for any manufacturer to deal with their products... now ignoring or flat denying flaws is becoming very commonplace. The DMCA has made it a plague.

      I mean, hey, it could be starting to filter into the airline industry. Want to talk about viral nature, forget the GPL. DMCA has a viral effect in busniess mentality.

    • Maybe he remembers the space shuttle Challenger [nspe.org] disaster. Seven people died then, when an engineer followed company orders not to oppose the launch and to keep quiet.

      Maybe Mangan, the former ITTech engineer, has a conscience and takes his ethical responsibilities as an engineer seriously. If he knows of a problem and knows the company has falsified test data, it is his duty to come forward. To remain quiet would make him partially responsible for the deaths of hundreds of people should a catastrophi
      • by br00tus (528477) on Saturday October 01, 2005 @09:32PM (#13695818)
        You seemed to have missed the point. He came forward, his story was public, a judge told him to quit talking while the case was ongoing and he didn't. You're spinning the story just like it seemed spun to me in this newspaper article. The point is what he did after he went public, after the matter went to court.
    • There seems to be something more at work here. I'll read more about this, but both parties are acting unusual to the point where I am really on neither side, whereas normally I suppose I would be on his side.

      Mangan's blog [eaawatch.net] has significant details. It makes quite a bit of sense if this guy, has more integrity than your average person. He's a super smart guy apparently, and he's probably right, firing him was probably not a good idea. Who wouldn't be miffed, and want to restore their good name? For the A

  • by Chmarr (18662) on Saturday October 01, 2005 @08:26PM (#13695554)
    The article claims that a failure in the chip could open valves that would cause rapid decompression.

    There is NO WAY a valve could open up far enough to cause that kind of decompression. It would take several minutes to equalise with the outside air.

    The article also claims that such depressurization would cause uncomciousness 'within seconds'.

    Well, at 45,000 feet, you have 15 seconds of useful conciousness. Most craft cruise at around 38,000', where you'd have a full minute of useful conciousness... PLENTLY of time, in both cases, for you to put on supplemental oxygen masks.

    There may well be problems with that chip, but the article really hypes up the fear factor. Typical of today's journalism: just repeat what others say, dont even bother making your own analysis, and you can't be sued.
    • by Yoohoo Ladies! (919562) on Saturday October 01, 2005 @08:40PM (#13695615)
      A slow decompression is even more dangerous than an explosive one because hypoxia can sneak up on anyone without them realising it. It takes a very special person to recognise the symptoms of hypoxia when they're not looking for them specifically.
      • by Chmarr (18662) on Saturday October 01, 2005 @08:43PM (#13695632)
        I agree. However, there are other systems in the aircraft that detect the low pressure, and THESE cause additional alerts, plus the oxygen systems to activate.

        In addition, a slow 'leak' gives the pilots great time for an emergency descent. Give me a slow leak over a fast one anyday.
    • Navy flight surgeon http://www.vnh.org/FSManual/01/03Hypoxia.html/ [vnh.org] gives you a maxium of 45 seconds of useful consciousness at 35000 ft. assuming a rapid loss of cabin pressure. Its only 45 seconds at 40,000. This is assuming that you are sitting still. If you are preforming "moderate activity" (say screaming your head off because you are are scared stupid) it drops to 30 and 18 seconds (35 and 40 thousand ft, respectively.) Even 30 seonds isn't a lot of time. You need to recognize that there is a prob
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 01, 2005 @08:32PM (#13695574)
    Really strange reporting. For starters, they don't even get basic facts right, e.g. they report Airbus was "owned by Dutch and British companies", when in fact it is owned by EADS (80% share, French/German) + BAE (20%, British). They also keep calling it a problem between Airbus and Mangan, when the actual events (as per their own article) seem to only involve Mangan and his former employer, TTTech. Airbus doesn't seem to have any involvment in this.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    I am an Australian working for a French aerospace company and there is no way I would trust a European Government to back me up in a case like this.

    More than in the USA aerospace firms are seen as a branch of defense in Europe, and the courts will not look kindly on whistle blowers.

    He should have gone back to the USA and started his campaign from there. He would get more backing from Boeing supporters and the US Government certainly would not act against him for criticising EADS.

  • by Muhammar (659468) on Saturday October 01, 2005 @08:35PM (#13695594)
    I worked for 3 pharma companies. I would never openly challenge a company like this about their product. I would find a new employer first and then I would try to leak out what was going on - and I would be extra careful that my new and old employers would not find out it was me. Why volunteer yourselfs to go in front of a firing squad? - It is not important that you made the point first, give a journalist a hint, he will give you a story. If they then call you then to testify, you do it, maybe without trying to look eager.

    Reporting to autorities on your own employer - even if there was a serious wrongdoing - is certain to end your industry career.
    • Career Over. (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Erris (531066)
      Reporting to authorities on your own employer - even if there was a serious wrongdoing - is certain to end your industry career.

      If there was serious wrongdoing, your career is already over. Serious wrongdoing is defined as people dying because your company took a shortcut. Forging the engineer's signature is one such shortcut. After that, there's no real walking away. It's your signature on the approval. If things go wrong, it's your ass anyway. The mud from dissasters flies far and wide and many inn

  • Joseph Mangan's Blog (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Looks like his blog is here: http://www.eaawatch.net/ [eaawatch.net]
  • His blog (Score:4, Informative)

    by HotNeedleOfInquiry (598897) on Saturday October 01, 2005 @08:38PM (#13695607)
    I'm not positive this is his blog (it looks more like a static web page) but it does have a ton of information on the subject:
    http://www.eaawatch.net/index.html [eaawatch.net]
  • This reeks of FUD (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    "Mangan told European aviation authorities that he believed there were problems with a computer chip on the Airbus A380"

    "Mangan alleges that flaws in a microprocessor could cause the valves that maintain cabin pressure on the A380 to accidentally open during flight"

    If there was an inclining of truth to this I doubt he would be going through this drama. Europe is VERY different to the US when it comes to corporate coverups.

    I believe there is a major flaw with the fuel injection computer on ALL Ford m
  • by StressGuy (472374) on Saturday October 01, 2005 @08:46PM (#13695645)
    The FAA and European agencies are pretty close to each other on regulations...a good thing since we fly big commercial aircraft in each others airspace all the time. The rest of the Airbus fleet is type-certificated in the US, I can only assume they wish the same for the A380.

    In this country, you're not going to put an "off the shelf" anything in a commercial aircraft unless it's gone through appropriate approval processes. You can't change the color of the fluid in the compass bowl without PMA approval.

    Furthermore, if they want thier TCDS (Type Certificate Data Sheet), they will need to, among other things:

    1) Fully ground test the operation of the depressurization valves

    2) Ground pressurization test the aircraft

    3) Test the pressurization systems in flight

    [Reference: Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 25, Subpart D, Paragraphs 841 and 843]

    Bypassing the approval process for a component is a serious charge. However, given that a gigantic double-decker commercial aircraft has "new and novel" written all over it, something just doesn't quite compute here.

    Smells like a propaganda war, but I'll keep my eye on it.

  • 'The European Aviation Safety Agency, which is handling the A380's flight worthiness certification, has reviewed Mangan's allegations. "We have done the research and acted accordingly," spokesman Daniel Holtgen said. "We can't comment on it because it is a matter for Airbus."'

    What else can Mangan do? He submitted his allegations to EASA, they claim they researched it and did their jobs. Another wing of the European government is prohibiting him from speaking about it in Austria. If he wants to continue his
  • My reactions (Score:5, Insightful)

    by erroneus (253617) on Saturday October 01, 2005 @09:20PM (#13695769) Homepage
    My first reaction was the expected "Oh my god! This consciencious guy is getting royally screwed!" and I immediately felt for his situation and could only hope to be as honorable.

    But after reading the article and the other Slashdot opinions, I too think there's a lot that needs to be revealed before we can form an opinion about this.

    Ultimately, we should hope that all the facts are revealed in this case and quickly. If there's a problem, it should be fixed and let this thing move on. If there's not, then I hope the true motivations are revealed as well. But I don't want to see this problem disappear under secrecy and then read about some horrible terrorist attack that was actually a system malfunction in disguise.
  • by SimJockey (13967) on Saturday October 01, 2005 @09:32PM (#13695815) Homepage Journal
    I've gone up against a client (big multi-national oil company) who disagreed with me on what was required for a refinery safety system I was designing. I wanted a pretty elaborate and redundant system to take care of what I will admit was a remote contingency. However it is my job to consider remote contingencies, it was what they hired my company for. But they really balked at what I was proposing.

    As much as engineers like black and white solutions, there is a lot of grey out there. In my case, I saw the deficiencies one way, they saw them another. The scenario couldn't be practically tested and the academic research on the topic was spotty and a lot of it was unpublished internal data. I ended up putting together reports with experts from two continents to convince this client that there was a problem they weren't seeing.

    Standing up on something like this is a lonely place to be. Like the article, I live with the thought of what I do can kill people if I am wrong. Makes me real cautious. But people who I report to are often non-experts, and occasionally they believe things irrationally (to me anyway) and it takes a lot of convincing to get them to see the my side. And hey, I am wrong sometimes too. But to stand up to a company that is paying your paycheque and say that you will not sign off on a design because you believe there is a problem, all the while they are screaming at you that we are behind schedule and over budget, makes for a truly shitty day at work. You get all sorts of pressure to let things go "good enough". Takes a lot of backbone and confidence for a technologist to stand up to economic pressures. We tend not to care as much for the dollars as we do for safety. I admire whistleblowers for this.
  • by MrPerfekt (414248) on Saturday October 01, 2005 @09:32PM (#13695817) Homepage Journal
    You're doing the morally right thing but you'll get the shaft every time...

    Mangan said he was looking for a new job. He has contacted dozens of aerospace firms in the U.S. and Europe, but none have returned his calls. "Nobody wants to touch me," he said.

    It's not really shocking that nobody wants to touch you after you've potentially cost your former employer, in the same field no less, millions of dollars. It's amazing to me though that the US has some of the best protection laws when it comes to this sort of thing.
  • by scotty777 (681923) on Saturday October 01, 2005 @09:43PM (#13695859) Journal
    I find this report very disturbing. The lack of protection for European whistle-blowers is terrible.

    If the guy is wrong about his concerns, he should still be allowed to have them heard. I'd rather have 9 out of ten "squalks" amount to nothing, than suffer the consequenses of the tenth.

    I'm shocked at the shortsightedness of Airbus response. Since Boeing is deploying the chips, in the American legal environment, there is no way an open process can be avoided. What in the world is the Airbus executive suite thinking? They have made a "no win" choice.

    If Boeing confirms the problem, then Airbus looks like they were playing fast-and-loose with peoples lives. If Boeing, in an open process, confirms the safety of the part... Well then folks will ask why Airbus didn't open the process. And all the while Airbus looks like an ugly outfit to work for...

    I just don't understand why they're playing it this way. This closed-process "deny, deny, deny" attitude destroyed Douglas Aircraft's business after the Chicago DC-10 crash. I hope the A-380 will prove safe in service, but I do wish they allowed whistle-blowers to live in peace, and addressed the claims with engineers, not lawyers.

  • Mangan's blog (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jmichaelg (148257) on Saturday October 01, 2005 @10:36PM (#13696134) Journal
    Joseph Mangan's blog [eaawatch.net] starts off being pretty inflamatory. However, down towards the bottom of his main page, he posts the minutes of a meeting that discusses how the employees should act if anyone asks about problems with the chip. The items he cites can be read two ways:
    1. say as little as needed to avoid getting entangled in details or...
    2. say as little as possible so Airbus is deceived into thinking the part is "simple."
    Without more documents, it's not clear to me which interpretation is closer to the truth.

    In this document [eaawatch.net] he asserts that the OS that runs on the chip was hacked together and that the software being delivered to Airbus was not put together according to the software engineering standards Airbus requires of its sub-contractors. He also says:

    In numerous official review findings by Honeywell International employees performing the role of external reviewers, led by Honeywell Engines and Systems Tucson, Software Quality Assurance Manager Jeff Young, TTTech consistently failed to deliver documentation, tests, and process compliance evidence at an acceptable level of quality.
    Perhaps someone here knows Jeff Young and can ask him if Mangan's charge is true vis-a-vis the product delivered to Honeywell.
  • by Joseph Mangan (919612) <jmangan@eaawatch.net> on Sunday October 02, 2005 @06:01AM (#13697527) Journal
    This message is from Joe Mangan jtrm jtrm 2 194 2005-10-02T09:37:00Z 2005-10-02T09:37:00Z 1 2660 15164 Home 126 30 18622 9.2720 0 0

    This message is from Joe Mangan

    www.eaawatch.net [eaawatch.net]

    www.joseph.mangan.name [mangan.name]

    www.joseph.mangan.com [mangan.com]

    The Commercial Aircraft Industry economic business model is seriously flawed, and is actively engaged in transferring financial risk from Corporations to threats to the lives of the passengers and crew without their informed consent.

    This issue is not about AIRBUS vs BOEING, this is AIRBUS and Boeing, and FAA, and EASA, and the Aircraft system suppliers and their sub suppliers. This is about all of the elements of the system being under tremendous pressure to be overly aggressive in the use of untested, unproven, low cost technology containing high uncertainty. The use of technology of high uncertainty always results in projects taking far longer to complete and costing far more than originally planned. This is project risk, and risk is nearly always significantly underestimated in project planning of modern Aerospace Programs. In essence we have the worlds biggest game of ?Russian Roulette?. With Boeing and Airbus gambling that the other will

    Pull the trigger on the chamber containing the live round, thus ending the game. I believe that what we are about to see if the combatants do not ?throttle back? is the ?story of the 3 Japanese fighting fish?, where the smart fish (China, India, Japan) allows the other 2 fish to fight to the death, leaving the survivor too weak to defend against the attach of the stronger smarter fish who wins unopposed.

    I feel a great sympathy and compassion for those who failed the morality test, challenged with facing the agonizing decision over career and wealth, vs the cost to human lives of their choice. My Christian conscience would not allow me to look the other way, realizing that for my own comfort and security, I would have to knowingly rationalize my own selfish interest, and thereby place at risk the lives of innocent Men, Women, and Children.

    I have waited an entire year (October 2004) in a tireless pursuit to work with AIRBUS, Nord Micro, TTTech, EASA, and FAA to correct these issues in private. These organizations refused to take any action. I was left with no other avenue than to pursue the issue in the public domain one year later. I had simply exhausted every opportunity available to me. I even visited the CEO of Nord Micro in his booth at the Paris Airshow, spending 40 minutes with him and his engineers in an attempt to convince them to act in the interest of public safety. Numerous failed attempts in good faith with TTTech are documented on my website. In each and every case, TTTech violated agreed to terms, and demanded in each case a retraction of my official statements to EASA and FAA, which has always been understood to be non-negotiable.

    Are these people who failed the moral challenge evil? No, they must decide what is more important to them, the lives of people vs profit, comfort, and security for themselves. The laws currently favor those who choose profit over safety. Protections and safeguards, even in the United States are insufficient to motivate a whistleblower to put themselves and their families in ?harms way?. One only need to look at the Corporate Crime Spree of WORLDCOM, ENRON, TYCO, ADELPHIA, HEALTHSOUTH and others.

    Conscience can only motivate a whistleblower to act first in the interest of others.

    When confronted by Executive Management with data showing the program is significantly over schedule and over budget, direct pressure is applied to find a way to ?get back on schedule?. Just as with the WORLDCOM case of Ebbers, all that must be said, is that ?we have to make our numbers?, and th

  • by Ancient_Hacker (751168) on Sunday October 02, 2005 @10:20AM (#13698201)
    Now maybe Boeing is just as bad, but Airbus seems to be particularly ATROCIOUS at systems design. BAd chips are about the least of their problems. A few examples: Airbus runs off end of runway, investigation shows:
    • Water in brake cylinder back end froze up. Cylinder lacked weep hole.
    • Brake electronics had two identical systems running in parallel.
    • If you pressed one of the brake system buttons for more than 10 msec, but less than 20 msec, one computer might see the keypress, the other might not. Never tested for.
    • Brake system uber-boss hardware checks for differences between two computers.
    • If it finds a difference, it turns off the secondary computer, WITHOUT SNOOPING AROUND to see if in fact it was the secondary computer that was getting off-track.
    • Said turning off is not signaled to the pilots in any obvious way.
    • Even if the pilot notices, by flipping to a obscure status-page, that the secondary braking system has been downed, pressing the RESET button doesnt actually reset much of anything.
    • Airbus encourages pilots to use auto-braking mode, which supposedly gives a steady 0.3G's of decelleartion.
    • If auto-braking doesnt seem to give 0.3G's, some TILT lights go on, but the braking system doesnt try using the suspect bad system, even after the other system is now known to be bad.
    I could go on, but I think you see the basic drift here. Not a clue among the designers, testers, or managers.

    Similar totally foobared design blew up the $400M Ariane rocket. Similarly foobared design for the Airbus flight control computer: lessee-- Pilot is pulling very hard on the stick, should we do what he says or drill a big hole in the ground? Hmmmmmm.....

    Full report URL's I can find if anybody is interested.

"Mach was the greatest intellectual fraud in the last ten years." "What about X?" "I said `intellectual'." ;login, 9/1990

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