Airbus – Be aware a software bug in A400M can crash the plane

Pierluigi Paganini May 20, 2015

The crash of the Airbus A400M military transport in Spain was caused by a software bug, three engines were shut down immediately after the start due to the flaw.

Recently we have discussed a lot about the possibility to hack a plane, almost everyone has read about the computer security researcher Chris Roberts which reported the FBI that he obtained the control of at least one commercial flight causing it to “climb”.

Which is the impact of technology in these complex systems? A cyber attack, or more simply a software bug, can be the cause of serious problems for a flight?

The answer is affirmative, persistent rumors accredit, as the main cause of the plane crash involving an Airbus A400M in Spain to an Airbus A400M, a software bug.

The crash occurred on May 9, a military transport aircraft Airbus A400M struck down for failure. The Airbus has sent an alert to customers warning of possible problems and instructing them to run specific checks of the Electronic Control Units (ECU) of the engines. Unfortunately, the entire crew was killed in the crash.

“Airbus Defence and Space has today (Tuesday 19 May) sent an Alert Operator Transmission (AOT) to all operators of the A400M informing them about specific checks to be performed on the fleet. To avoid potential risks in any future flights, Airbus Defence and Space has informed the operators about necessary actions to take. In addition, these results have immediately been shared with the official investigation team. 

The AOT requires Operators to perform one-time specific checks of the Electronic Control Units (ECU) on each of the aircraft’s engines before next flight and introduces additional detailed checks to be carried out in the event of any subsequent engine or ECU replacement.” states the press release.

Airbus A400M software bug


The News Agency SPIEGEL ONLINE reported that engineers have discovered a software bug in the control unit of the engines that it is likely to have caused the loss of three blowing works.

The German magazine reported that three engines shut down due to “contradictory instructions” sent by the control system. The pilots tried to return to the Seville airport, but the aircraft crashed after hitting a power pole.

An Airbus employee told to the Spiegel that the crash was caused by “a quality problem.”

“”It is very likely to be a quality problem in our work”, says from Airbus circles. In recent months, therefore, the overall management of Airbus subsidiary in Seville has been replaced. Back then reacted Airbus CEO Tom Enders on the significantly delayed delivery of the machines, among others for the German Luftwaffe. Der Spiegel had also about quality problems in the delivery reports of the first German A400M.” states the SPIEGEL ONLINE.

Investigators will provide more information after the analysis of the “black box” that is currently “being kept under wraps by a Spanish judge.”

Pierluigi Paganini

(Security Affairs – Airbus A400M military transport, security)

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