Airbus A400M crash due to software glitch

Posted on 8 Jun 2015 by Michael Cruickshank

A fatal aircraft crash last month in Spain has been revealed to have been caused by improperly installed software.

The Airbus A400M Atlas, a military transport plane, crashed on 9 May in Spain, causing the deaths of 4 people onboard.

According to new reporting by German newspaper ‘Handelsblatt’, Airbus Chief Strategist Marwan Lahoud has explained that the crash happened due to a “quality issue in the final assembly” of the craft’s software.

What this means is that while the original software code for the aircraft was error free, new errors emerged during the installation procedure, or the code was not sufficiently tested in its new hardware environment.

Following an examination of the craft’s cockpit voice recorders, it was found that this error then caused the failure of three of the A400M’s four engines.

“…engines 1, 2 and 3 experienced power frozen after lift-off and did not respond to the crew’s attempts to control the power setting in the normal way, whilst engine 4 responded to throttle demands,” explained the company in a press statement.

The problem itself appears to have manifested when engines were transferred to an idle state.

“When the power levers were set to “flight idle” in an attempt to reduce power, the power reduced but then remained at “flight idle” […]despite attempts by the crew to regain power,” the Airbus statement reads.

Airbus had earlier advised operators of the A400M craft to be wary of a software bug which may have caused the crash, leading to several countries halting their operation of the aircraft.

Developmental problems

This recent deadly crash was not the first problem for the new A400M aircraft, but rather the culmination of a series of developmental issues.

The plane itself has faced massive time and cost overruns in its production, and in 2010 was almost cancelled entirely.

It has already been postulated that engineers, rushing to meet production deadlines, may not have completed sufficient software checks, possibly contributing to last month’s crash.