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Airbus

A350 Fix: Have You Tried “Turning it Off and On Again?”

A350 Fix: Have You Tried “Turning it Off and On Again?”
Jackie Reddy

It’s a fix used to perk up a slow laptop, but one of the solutions suggested by the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) to correct the software bug in some versions of the Airbus A350 is a simple reboot. The other alternative is a patch, which may require a plane to be taken out of service.

As Gizmodo reports, some models of the $300 million+ Airbus A350 are known to have a software bug, but one of the fixes to resolve the issue, as advised by the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), is one that is more commonly used to revive a slow computer or laptop: turning the plane off and then on again. Most planes, unless they are out of service for repairs or maintenance, stay powered on for weeks as they fly around the world. Most planes, because of the tight financial margins involved in their operation, are in service most hours and turning them off and on again a la the IT crowd can take up to two hours from powered-down to flight-ready.

The issue, which has been observed in older versions of the Airbus A350-941 (which was introduced back in 2013), has a software fix. However, that fix requires planes to be taken out of service for maintenance and quality assurance testing, which puts the plane out of service for longer. Airlines who have not performed that software update are now being instructed to completely power cycle the aircraft every 149 hours or risk “…partial or total loss of some avionics systems or functions,” according to the EASA.

Which is… concerning to read for members of the general public, especially considering that software (problems, lack of training, or fundamental flaw depending on which report you’ve read most recently) difficulties were behind the fatal 737 MAX crashes. Without a re-boot or patch, EASA adds, “Depending on the affected airplane systems or equipment, different consequences have been observed and reported by operators, from redundancy loss to complete loss on a specific function hosted on common remote data concentrator and core processing input/output modules.”

Airbus has not commented on the resolution to this problem.

[Featured Image: Airbus]

View Comments (6)

6 Comments

  1. SarcasticMisanthrope

    August 2, 2019 at 7:00 am

    Yeah, that’s the ticket. Oh our in-flight computer is glitching. Let’s turn the plane off and back on whilst in flight. Really computer experts?

  2. crunchie

    August 2, 2019 at 9:12 am

    Sounds like a memory leak hence the predictable time between reboot recommendation. If that’s really the root cause, I am surprised. I can understand the use of lower level languages that require proper memory management but this looks like something that would have been detected in a long haul test. What’s going on with the airline industry software people?

  3. glob99

    August 2, 2019 at 10:14 am

    So that’s why my DL flight to S. Korea was delayed.

  4. Snuggs

    August 2, 2019 at 2:17 pm

    A350 software problems? Just call the ATSB They had to find the A330 software problem Airbus didn’t seem all that concerned about.. Of course, if you have taxpayer’s to pick up the tab, “What, me worry”?

  5. OZFLYER86

    August 3, 2019 at 12:47 am

    just fix it now !!!

    We don’t need another 737 max debacle.

  6. IanFromHKG

    August 18, 2019 at 9:42 pm

    There is a fix. It works. It requires time, and until aircraft reach scheduled maintenance the problem can be temporarily addressed by powering down and up again.

    What’s so dramatic about that?

    Comparing it to the 737 debacle is utterly ridiculous. Oh, and referring to the 737’s issues as (and I am quoting from the article) “software … difficulties” is about the most stupid statement I have seen here for a while, particularly since the 737’s problems were much more serious (only one angle-of-attack sensor, only one set of flight computers functioning at a time, a decision not to even tell (let alone train) pilots about a significant software change (one which was required to fix an inherently unstable airframe), a manual trim wheel that is so hard to rotate in some circumstances that it is thought pilots may not have adequate upper body strength to to do so, and speaking of which an override protocol for MCAS that requires both pilots to exert 60kg of force on the yoke (that is a force for each pilot equivalent to the entire normal weight of someone 5’5″ tall – imagine lifting someone like that off the ground), and so on).

    The A350 software issue took over five years to become apparent and resulted in – errr, absolutely no incidents whatsoever. The 737 Max took less than one and a half years to drop out of the sky, and another one less than six months later. Boeing’s immediate reaction? Blame the pilots.

    Any new aircraft is going to have problems. Any new engine is going to have problems. The question is how the manufacturer approaches the design, how they approach the incidents, and if a problem is identified how they approach the problems. Boeing’s current approach on all these fronts seems to be seriously wanting, as is their quality control (see the many other news reports on that separate issue).

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