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World's Largest Passenger Plane May Be Unsafe, Some Say

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the whereas-perfect-safety-is-wonderful dept.

Transportation 394

CNET reports (citing this BBC video account) that some aircraft engineers in Australia are concerned about small cracks that have appeared on the wing ribs of some Airbus A380 airplanes, a report says. They're calling for the whole fleet to be grounded, but Airbus says the cracks are harmless.

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Fucking ground this fleet. (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38632702)

Do we need to wait for a catastrophic accident where hundreds of people die?

Re:Fucking ground this fleet. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38632728)

Yeah... do billions of dollars in economy damage because some kangaroo fucker found a few superficial cracks.

Re:Fucking ground this fleet. (5, Insightful)

ClintJCL (264898) | more than 2 years ago | (#38632736)

Yes, the economy is more important than not killing people. In fact, can I kill you and take your money? It's for the good of society. That money's gotta keep changing hands. I'll be by tonite.

Re:Fucking ground this fleet. (3, Insightful)

Windows Breaker G4 (939734) | more than 2 years ago | (#38632890)

Sometimes the truth hurts.On slashdot it gets marked flamebait!

Re:Fucking ground this fleet. (3, Informative)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 2 years ago | (#38633042)

While we're at it, we should ground the entire Boeing fleet as well...one of their roofs ripped off a couple of days ago during a flight and cracks have been found all over the 737 fleet.

http://abcnews.go.com/US/southwest-airlines-boeing-knew-737-flaw-expect-problem/story?id=13300089#.TwomuU8gifg [go.com]

Best part: They knew it could happen but they kept it a secret.

Re:Fucking ground this fleet. (2)

allcoolnameswheretak (1102727) | more than 2 years ago | (#38633160)

For some reason, when following your link to the 737 roof ripping problem I'm first shown a video of a smoke issue on an Airbus plane, and only after that does the actual 737 video related to the article show up.

Isn't that funny.

Re:Fucking ground this fleet. (4, Informative)

Verunks (1000826) | more than 2 years ago | (#38633258)

just to clarify that happend almost a year ago not just a few days ago

Re:Fucking ground this fleet. (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38633100)

The readers on slashdot don't usually grasp context too well. If the most capable and relevant people we have look at the findings and say, "those are superficial", then you don't just ground all the A380's for no reason, because it's extremely damaging to do so without a good reason.

If, on the other hand, someone has valid concerns... then yes, safety takes priority.

Re:Fucking ground this fleet. (4, Insightful)

AK Marc (707885) | more than 2 years ago | (#38633024)

Ford says so. Not that the Pinto was really that unsafe, but the lies Ford pushed to cover up their knowledge of problems (or Chrysler and lies about the minivan latches, it's not just Ford, it's all industry in the US, whatever's left). They knew the fix, and they chose to let people burn because it was cheaper. The government sided with them, though a jury didn't.

Re:Fucking ground this fleet. (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38633134)

The Ford "cover up memo" was in regards to post-crash fires after accidents involving rollovers, not anything specific to the Pinto and it's behind-the-rear-axle gas tank.

The Pinto got a bad rap -- it's actually got a better fatality record than similarly sized cars of the era.

Re:Fucking ground this fleet. (5, Insightful)

Michael Woodhams (112247) | more than 2 years ago | (#38633130)

Like it or not, there is, and must be, a price on human life. "But it could kill people!" isn't sufficient reason in itself to ground the A380 - the risks and costs must be balanced.

Pulling some numbers out of the air, for argument's sake this problem has a 10% chance of one day causing a crash, which will kill 400 people, and killing the A380 will cost $20 billion. That is $20 billion to save, on average, 40 lives, or $500 million per life. You could instead tax Airbus more heavily for $500 million, and put the money into a branch of health care which on average saves one person per $500,000. The economy is $19.5 billion better off and the population is 960 people better off, by letting the 380 keep flying despite the fact that "it might kill people".

You even place a value on your own life. Do you own and habitually wear a bullet proof vest? Do you wear a crash helmet when driving? Do you buy a new vehicle every year with safety features almost entirely dictating your choice? If not, it is because you value money (and other benefits such as comfort and avoiding ridicule) over slight reductions in your chance of an early death.

(Note: I don't know the risk/benefit numbers for the specific case of the A380 cracks. I'm saying this analysis is grossly inadequate to justify grounding the A380, not that it shouldn't be grounded.)

Re:Fucking ground this fleet. (3, Insightful)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#38633198)

The point you're missing is that it's a known problem that can be monitored for and affected planes can be serviced. If the causes weren't known I'd say at 10% they should be grounding the fleet and fixing the problem.

Yes there is a point where it gets to be too costly for the protection given, but that's generally when you don't know the cause and can't keep an eye on it. If they're spending that much to fix the problem then they're probably doing it wrong. In that case they ought to just monitor the problem and replace the particular parts needed rather than the entire fleet.

The things that really scare me are the flight crew and unknown problems.

Re:Fucking ground this fleet. (2)

Belial6 (794905) | more than 2 years ago | (#38633206)

That's not fair. No one that doesn't place a value on life would ever ride in one of those deathtrap machines known as a car.

Re:Fucking ground this fleet. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38633186)

Have you been calling for the same for cars? They kill people all the time... How about banning people from driving, seeing as that's the class of objects that cause most accidents. Hell, ban water.

Re:Fucking ground this fleet. (2)

StikyPad (445176) | more than 2 years ago | (#38633208)

Not killing people, but not going to extraordinary lengths to ensure no one dies either. There's a cost/benefit function. Should we pay people to patrol sidewalks 24/7 to make sure there's nothing slippery? This is the same thing. It's *very probably* not going to kill anyone, but it's not worth the time and money to "make sure" it won't, especially when there are no guarantees regardless.

Add to that the fact that no amount of prevention will prevent someone from *ever* dying, and it's just more wasted energy. I'm not saying human lives aren't important or that people shouldn't all be treated with equal respect, but if we didn't draw a line somewhere, the only job in existence would be making sure someone else didn't get hurt/killed. So obviously there needs to be a line, and what you seem to be suggesting is that it should be drawn by ignorant schmoes who read newspaper articles instead of the engineers who actually design and inspect the product in question. You're not the first to suggest that, but I don't think it's necessarily the best policy.

Re:Fucking ground this fleet. (3, Informative)

SomePgmr (2021234) | more than 2 years ago | (#38633222)

Yes, the economy is more important than not killing people. In fact, can I kill you and take your money? It's for the good of society. That money's gotta keep changing hands. I'll be by tonite.

Ya'know, the article was really short:

Airbus recommends that airlines check for cracks but says they present no real danger. The BBC quotes the following from a statement by the company:

"We confirm that minor cracks were found on some noncritical wing rib-skin attachments on a limited number of A380 aircraft. We have traced the origin. Airbus has developed an inspection and repair procedure, which will be done during regular, routine scheduled four-year maintenance checks. In the meantime, Airbus emphasizes that the safe operation of the A380 fleet is not affected."

Re:Fucking ground this fleet. (1)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | more than 2 years ago | (#38633228)

There is always a risk of catastrophic failure. Every flight is a game of Russian Roulette.
All this means is that the Airbus revolver might have fewer chambers than other planes.

But people still fly; apparently the convenience of saving several hours/days worth of travel time is worth the risk.

Re:Fucking ground this fleet. (4, Insightful)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 2 years ago | (#38632742)

Meanwhile, scores of hungry Boeing executives are rubbing their hands together and licking their chops.

Re:Fucking ground this fleet. (1)

dankasak (2393356) | more than 2 years ago | (#38632952)

Flamebait or serious? Oh I think you mean 'economic' damage, not 'ecomony' damage. Illiterate idiot.

Re:Fucking ground this fleet. (1)

devitto (230479) | more than 2 years ago | (#38632824)

It'll be 'pilot error' - he should have checked over the world's largest plane for cracks that (obviously, not like these)- are not harmless.

Condolences to the families and friends of those who die.

Re:Fucking ground this fleet. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38632962)

All I have to say is: de Havilland Comet.

Re:Fucking ground this fleet. (4, Funny)

thestudio_bob (894258) | more than 2 years ago | (#38633284)

Do we need to wait for a catastrophic accident where hundreds of people die?

Are they really dead? Maybe they would land on some exotic island somewhere, being chased by a smoke monster and polar bears and fighting with some initiative called Darma.

Small cracks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38632722)

have a tendency to become larger under stress. Airbus blowing this off is not a good sign.

Re:Small cracks (5, Insightful)

JavaBear (9872) | more than 2 years ago | (#38632910)

Who's saying they are blowing it off?
From what I understand, they are aware of the problem, have isolated it's cause, and deemed it non critical. And I do trust Airbus far enough that they do not want to see one of these planes fall out of the sky.

The cracks are for course troubling in such a young aircraft, but blowing issues out of proportion is about as bad as ignoring them.

Misleading summary (4, Insightful)

flaming error (1041742) | more than 2 years ago | (#38633082)

The article claims "small cracks that have appeared on the wing ribs". Airbus calls it "some noncritical wing rib-skin attachments".

This sounds like the difference between a cracked bone and a sore ligament. One really is less worrisome than the other.

Re:Small cracks (5, Insightful)

jamesh (87723) | more than 2 years ago | (#38633154)

Who's saying they are blowing it off?
From what I understand, they are aware of the problem, have isolated it's cause, and deemed it non critical. And I do trust Airbus far enough that they do not want to see one of these planes fall out of the sky.

The cracks are for course troubling in such a young aircraft, but blowing issues out of proportion is about as bad as ignoring them.

Agree. The alternative is that the cracks really are critical but Airbus are playing down the problem because they've decided that having an accident, forcing them to ground the rest of the fleet anyway, having to pay out billions in damages and fines, and completely destroying their reputation, is a better option than grounding the fleet now and repairing the aircraft.

Before I listen to anyone's opinion that these cracks are more of a problem than Airbus say they are, i'd want to see some qualifications in metallurgy or similar discipline.

Re:Small cracks (5, Insightful)

Sir_Sri (199544) | more than 2 years ago | (#38633204)

And some actual knowledge of the specific problem. Admittedly, I haven't done any metallurgy in 10 years, but I know enough to not trust anything the media say about very specific technical problems on a first attempt, metallurgy, computer science, physics, or anything.

Re:Small cracks (4, Informative)

couchslug (175151) | more than 2 years ago | (#38632924)

Depends entirely on what is cracking and how much. It is routine for damage found on aircraft inspection to be reported to the manufacturer for engineering guidance.

Defect limits exist for many aircraft and engine components. For example, borescope (think "endoscope for machines") inspection of turbines is used to check allowable wear and damage. That can be considerable depending on the engine.

Earthquake anyone? (0)

Janek Kozicki (722688) | more than 2 years ago | (#38632732)

Remember that story about predicted earthquake? Scientists were predicting earthquakes a lot of times, and it didn't happen. One time they were really serious about "this time" prediction. Authorities choose to ignore it. Lots of people died. Where it was? I forgot. How much "really serious" they were? Hard to say. Of course a lot more after it really happened.

So who & why would want to cover anotherwho's ass on future Airbus crashes? Well that news-story is just dumb. We all know what will happen:
- Airbus crashes, we hear "we warned you".
- Airbus don't crashes, everybody forgets.

Why are we so strange behaving species? How about being more rational?

Re:Earthquake anyone? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38632834)

Why are we so strange behaving species? How about being more rational?

We are rational - we just suck at understanding the risk of thing sin everyday life.

To many false alarms or things that appear as false alarms, we ignore it. And most of the time it is the right thing to do. Because if we don't, we spend all of our time preparing for very unlikely or even improbably events.

Or another way we go over board is over estimating some risks while brushing aside others. Such as we have no problem jumping in a car and driving 70+ mph separated by just some dashed white lines but yet, we have to go through over zealous or even unnecessary security at airports.

Most likely we will die from a car accident, cancer, heart disease, gun shot, lightening strike and a few others things, but do we spend as much time and money on mitigating those risks let alone as much as we do on terrorism? Hardly.

Harmless junk? Somehow I doubt it. (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38632740)

I'm no aircraft engineer, but I do not feel comfortable with all this "pose absolutely no danger"-talk. AFAIK, particularly modern aircraft are engineered to trim down on weight as much as possible, and I would be VERY surprised if there were parts in the plane that could just safely break down posing no risk whatsoever. Such parts wouldn't be there in the first place, now would they?

Re:Harmless junk? Somehow I doubt it. (3, Informative)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 2 years ago | (#38632782)

Aircraft are over-engineered [wikipedia.org] by a factor of 120-300%.

Re:Harmless junk? Somehow I doubt it. (3, Insightful)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 2 years ago | (#38632804)

Not all aircraft parts are essential for structural integrity. Some bits are just there to hold wires in place, etc.

When Airbus says "noncritical" you'd think they'd know the difference...

Re:Harmless junk? Somehow I doubt it. (1)

gregrah (1605707) | more than 2 years ago | (#38632866)

That's not to say we should just take Airbus at their word, though. An independent 3rd party should be brought in to investigate and ultimately make the decision.

Re:Harmless junk? Somehow I doubt it. (3, Informative)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#38633244)

Why? They're on record as saying that it's not critical. By which they almost certainly mean that monitoring it is sufficient. What independent 3rd party experts are you going to tap? Most of them work for either the competition or one of the regulatory bodies that's supposed to be keeping tabs on them.

Ultimately as others have pointed out, the amount of damage that this would do if one of those planes fell out of the sky because those cracks caused a wing to fall off would probably be the end of Airbus. Given that they're stress fractures on the wing it's quite likely that they were considered when designing the plane.

Re:Harmless junk? Somehow I doubt it. (1)

Hadlock (143607) | more than 2 years ago | (#38632872)

Well there are two things I don't like about this, and one that I do:
 
1. If this is a non-critical part, why is it receiving stresses that is causing it to fail?
2. If there were oversights on non-critical parts, who's to say there weren't oversights on more important parts? These planes fly over huge tracts of empty ocean, it's not like they can just pull off to the side of the road and wait for AAA to tow them home
 
Good things:
 
1. Considering the absolute massive size of the airplane, number of parts (both moving and not), the number of assembly locations (+ final assembly) it's a goddamn miracle that they've only had two notable failures since the introduction
 
That said, the 747 has a really impressive track record and 40 years to work out any major failures. They seem relatively safe in my book. You'd have to drag me on to an A380 flight that travels over a body of water bigger than the English channel though. Call me in 10 years when they have 150+ in active service.

Re:Harmless junk? Somehow I doubt it. (4, Interesting)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 2 years ago | (#38633006)

There's just not enough info in the article to argue the case either way. OTOH I doubt there's ever been an aircraft without minor design defects that are fixed as they appear.

All commercial airliners have a log book in the cabin with a list of known broken/defective bits that the pilots are supposed to read before every takeoff and where they write down any weirdness they notice during the flight. None of the books are empty, even on brand new aircraft (ask a pilot...)

Re:Harmless junk? Somehow I doubt it. (4, Interesting)

ironjaw33 (1645357) | more than 2 years ago | (#38633182)

I doubt there's ever been an aircraft without minor design defects that are fixed as they appear.

This is what happens when an airline is a launch customer (as are Qantas and Singapore I believe). When the airline is first in line to receive a new aircraft type, there are all kinds of bugs that the airline has to be willing to accept. For example, the first six production 787s [wikipedia.org] are overweight in comparison with what was promised. Similarly, I've heard time and time again not to buy the first model year of a new car or significant vehicle redesign because of potential problems that will be found only after production and then fixed in subsequent years.

Re:Harmless junk? Somehow I doubt it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38633224)

1. If this is a non-critical part, why is it receiving stresses that is causing it to fail?

Are you implying that only critical components experience stress? And it hasn't failed yet, has it? But to answer your question: Airbus has said that the cause is the 7449 [keytometals.com] aluminum compound used in manufacture. The same compound has been used succesfully on the A340, but in a different (thicker) shape.

2. If there were oversights on non-critical parts, who's to say there weren't oversights on more important parts?

What makes you think there were oversights? Do you mean they should have noticed these cracks before delivering the plane to its buyer?

1. Considering the absolute massive size of the airplane, number of parts (both moving and not), the number of assembly locations (+ final assembly) it's a goddamn miracle that they've only had two notable failures since the introduction

Two? I only know of the engine blowout last year (Qantas?). What is the other?

Re:Harmless junk? Somehow I doubt it. (2)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 2 years ago | (#38633072)

They (Airbus), should have consulted the Russians or Ukranians, who have been flying the world's biggest and heaviest [popularmechanics.com] aircraft without any incidents.

You cannot appreciate this plane's size until you get close to this massive aircraft, which makes the Boeing 747 and A380 dwarfs to a degree.

Re:Harmless junk? Somehow I doubt it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38632806)

I would be VERY surprised if there were parts in the plane that could just safely break down posing no risk whatsoever. Such parts wouldn't be there in the first place, now would they?

Yeah, if say small scratches in the wings weren't dangerous then the planes would be built without wings.

In this case since there are apparently aircraft engineers saying there's a problem then that sounds like enough to take it seriously and look into it some more, but the theory that planes just couldn't be built such that minor damage isn't an issue is obviously silly.

Re:Harmless junk? Somehow I doubt it. (1, Informative)

theshowmecanuck (703852) | more than 2 years ago | (#38632810)

They just need to do a few Brazil to France test flights.

Re:Harmless junk? Somehow I doubt it. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38632896)

Brazil to France

Why? Will these non-critical cracks cause the crew to dither around and debate the meaning of instruments while stalling into the Atlantic?

Re:Harmless junk? Somehow I doubt it. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38632870)

What I've understood so far, is that the cracks are not in the wings themselves but in stabilizing ribs mounted on top. I agree that a more thorough explanation is required, but it's not like the sky is falling.

-- oh, and cue the "zomg Airbus is not from the US! burn them!" mob.

Re:Harmless junk? Somehow I doubt it. (5, Informative)

couchslug (175151) | more than 2 years ago | (#38632944)

I'm an experienced aircraft mechanic and have no problem with it.

"Such parts wouldn't be there in the first place, now would they?"

"Fairing" comes to mind. which exists to cover structure and streamline flow.

Even delicate fighters can have considerable defects and be safe to fly. One inspects, documents, and monitors those with inputs from engineers and tech reps.

Re:Harmless junk? Somehow I doubt it. (5, Interesting)

artor3 (1344997) | more than 2 years ago | (#38632986)

And if those parts are designed to experience some cracking, as part of some carefully tuned tradeoff? There was some high altitude spy plane (maybe the Blackbird?) that leaked fuel on the ground, because when operating the temperatures would cause things to expand, so it was better to have it leak on the ground than break in the air. If a layman, or even an engineer unfamiliar with the project, saw that, they would naturally assume something was wrong.

Re:Harmless junk? Somehow I doubt it. (3, Interesting)

lightknight (213164) | more than 2 years ago | (#38633196)

Yes, it is the SR-71, which requires a generator or two to jump start, and a refueling in mid-air since it tends to lose a lot of fuel before getting off the ground.

Re:Harmless junk? Somehow I doubt it. (4, Insightful)

afabbro (33948) | more than 2 years ago | (#38633242)

I'm no aircraft engineer, but I do not feel comfortable with all this "pose absolutely no danger"-talk. AFAIK, particularly modern aircraft are engineered to trim down on weight as much as possible, and I would be VERY surprised if there were parts in the plane that could just safely break down posing no risk whatsoever. Such parts wouldn't be there in the first place, now would they?

As you say - you're not an aircraft engineer.

If it ain't Boeing I ain't going (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38632756)

totally against fly by wire systems!

Q: Most common phrase heard in the cockpit of Airbus aircraft?

A: "What's it doing now?"

Re:If it ain't Boeing I ain't going (1)

Stormy Dragon (800799) | more than 2 years ago | (#38632850)

Hate to break it to you, but Boeing's planes are fly by wire too. They're just designed to act like a plane with direct hydraulic control even though they aren't.

Re:If it ain't Boeing I ain't going (1)

Lehk228 (705449) | more than 2 years ago | (#38632932)

the problem isn't fly by wire, the problem is that airbus computers evaluate pilot actions for correctness and override if they decide the pilot is incorrect, in situations where the compuiter judges wrong, such as when a sensor is giving faulty readings, the plane may do pleasant things like land on the face of a mountain

Re:If it ain't Boeing I ain't going (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#38633260)

That's always a tough call. Statistically flight crew error is the most likely reason for a plane crashing, but by the same token there are rare occasions where there's a sensor malfunction or obscure bug that was never uncovered by QA that causes the autopilot to be worse than useless.

Personally, I'm marginally more comfortable with Boeing's approach to it than Airbus's, but in practice it's rarely if ever been an issue.

Re:If it ain't Boeing I ain't going (1)

drerwk (695572) | more than 2 years ago | (#38632964)

They're just designed to act like a plane with direct hydraulic control even though they aren't.

Sounds like an improvement over the feel of two non-coupled joysticks, where assuming one pilot has a clue he can not even tell what the clueless pilot is doing wrong. I'm not a big metal pilot, but I understand that in a Boeing the yokes are connected so that both pilots have coordinated movement between them; in the Airbus with a side joystick I don't even know if the pilots can see what each other are doing, and further I understand that the pilot to most recently move the stick in the Airbus takes command of the plane. If my understanding is correct, I'll take a Boeing any day.

Re:If it ain't Boeing I ain't going (1)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 2 years ago | (#38633064)

Yes you can see the other pilots control stick from your position, and no, you need to do more than make an input to gain control - there is a priority switch you have to push.

Re:If it ain't Boeing I ain't going (2)

drerwk (695572) | more than 2 years ago | (#38633276)

I've seen some suggestion that if neither pilot presses the priority switch the inputs are algebraically summed. Do you know? I can not say that in all cases it would be better to have slaved yokes. I am aware of one fatal incident in a sailplane where the best guess is the passanger panicked and overpowered the pilot fighting for the stick. But I have to think it would be better to have some shared feedback between the sticks.

Re:If it ain't Boeing I ain't going (2)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 2 years ago | (#38633014)

...and Airbuses have a little overhead switch which puts them into direct control mode.

Re:If it ain't Boeing I ain't going (1)

Brett Buck (811747) | more than 2 years ago | (#38633044)

That still nonetheless uses pitot data to set the control rates - a likely cause of the Brazil kingfisher dive.

     

Re:If it ain't Boeing I ain't going (1)

JavaBear (9872) | more than 2 years ago | (#38632922)

Dear Boeing fanboy, get off your high horse.
Boeing are every bit as much Fly-By-Wire as Airbus these days, and from what I understand, that phrase is heard on Boeing cockpits as well.

Re:If it ain't Boeing I ain't going (1)

CapOblivious2010 (1731402) | more than 2 years ago | (#38632988)

Is it even possible to fly a large jet without fly-by-wire? Are pilots really strong enough to move the control surfaces on the wings and tail by muscle power alone? And even if they are, do they have the endurance to do it off-and-on for hours at a time?

Hi, folks - welcome aboard Manual Airlines flight 123. I'm Chuck Norris, and I'll be your pilot today; Arnold Schwarzenegger will be the co-pilot, and Sylvester Stallone will be our navigator.

Re:If it ain't Boeing I ain't going (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38633048)

Well, it's not either/or. "Ordinary" (ok, anymore fly-by-wire is ordinary, but you know what I mean) aircraft of any size (all commercial aviation, lots of general aviation) use hydraulic actuators, not the pilot's muscle power.

Re:If it ain't Boeing I ain't going (2)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 2 years ago | (#38633094)

Fly by wire is different to hydraulically actuated surfaces - hydraulically actuated surfaces are not by themselves considered fly by wire, but do add more power to the pilots inputs.

Re:If it ain't Boeing I ain't going (1)

firehawk302 (1990630) | more than 2 years ago | (#38633158)

Is it even possible to fly a large jet without fly-by-wire? Are pilots really strong enough to move the control surfaces on the wings and tail by muscle power alone? And even if they are, do they have the endurance to do it off-and-on for hours at a time?

Pilots don't need to be strong enough to move control systems by muscles alone. Hydraulics take care of that - whether fly-by-wire or not.

Re:If it ain't Boeing I ain't going (1)

WhiplashII (542766) | more than 2 years ago | (#38633278)

Actually, this is an interesting question - the answer is a resounding "yes".

What you do is have a small "elevator" on the actual elevator. So, you deflect the small "elevator" up. That hitting the airflow causes the real elevator to move down. That causes the airplane to pitch.

It like getting hydraulic controls for free, using the airflow. Doesn't work too well at the edges of the performance envelope, but used in many older aircraft.

If it ain't Boeing I ain't going (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38633028)

America...
America...
America, FUCK YEAH!
Coming again, to save the mother fucking day yeah,
America, FUCK YEAH!
Freedom is the only way yeah,
Airbus your game is through cause now you have to answer too,
America, FUCK YEAH!
So lick my butt, and suck on my balls,
America, FUCK YEAH!
What you going to do when we come for you now,
itâ(TM)s the dream that we all share; itâ(TM)s the hope for tomorrow

Re:If it ain't Boeing I ain't going (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 2 years ago | (#38633058)

Would you go in one of these [go.com] .

Re:If it ain't Boeing I ain't going (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38633220)

Of course he would. It's a Boeing, which is Made In America and therefore is PERFECT and ANOINTED BY THE BABY JESUS as the only aircraft that God himself approves of. Any defects anyone has ever reported in a Boeing are the work of the Devil and/or Mexicans.

Re:If it ain't Boeing I ain't going (1)

lightknight (213164) | more than 2 years ago | (#38633292)

"If it ain't Boeing I ain't going" -> So, is Gulf-stream out? Cessna? I could go on.

Airbus is typically seen as the European competitor to Boeing. They both, as per my understanding, make good planes, and tend to be comparable feature-wise. When other countries submit requests for bids for aircraft, they tend to send requests to both companies.

However, as with Boeing in the United States, Airbus suffers from some heavy politics in the EU. Each economic block cares to protect its 'precious,' and isn't above sniping the other.

And fly by wire systems are the future. The military uses them in a number of aircraft, including the F-117 and B-2 (both aircraft that the military, IMHO, hates losing). In short, the theory is sound, has been tested, with any possible problems stemming from individual implementations of said theory.

   

Airbus / Scarebus continues (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38632762)

its ritual un-prosecuted pre-meditated killing of passengers world wide. From forcing tsunami destroyed countries to buy Scarebus to get aid, to failing the A380 150% wing-loading test, Scarebus builds on its reputation for falling out of the sky. FL35, cruise and it "breaks up". Nice. Good planes.

If its not a Boeing, I'm not going.

Scarebus continues its engineering of murder and mayhem the world over. How many of our sons, daughters mothers and fathers and wives and husbands must be murdered by SCAREBUS before we stop this animal!

There have been recent and still as yet unexplained incidents at cruising altitude in the A330

See Qantas A330-300 (Flight QF72) emergency landing in Western Australia:

http://www.youtube.com/v/5d7aZtSOWZE [youtube.com]

Concerning an A330 crash at an air show in France; a Discovery Channel documentary on this plane indicates that Air France had their best pilot on this plane and that computer was the cause:

http://www.youtube.com/v/fX4_Ho992TQ [youtube.com]

Airbus / Scarebus continues its ritual un-prosecuted pre-meditated killing of passengers world wide. From forcing tsunami destroyed countries to buy Scarebus to get aid, to failing the A380 150% wing-loading test, Scarebus builds on its reputation for falling out of the sky. FL35, cruise and it "breaks up". Nice. Good planes.

Boeing planes crash because operators violate the plane. Screw up maintenance. Basically Boeing crashes are from terrorists, people painting over pressure sensors, people flying them into things or massive mechanical failures brought on by horrific neglect or poor maintenance. They can be EXPLAINED.

Scarebus accidents have a scary high percentage of massive catastrophic failure that cannot be explained.

All I have to say is : B-17, B-24, B-29 and B-52, these planes were built in ways that could soak up gun fire for well over 60 years. They know how to build planes that have more than normal survivability. Air BUS. Its not AirPlane, its AirBus. Cheap garbage made as cheaply as possible to line the pockets of fat cats and unionized sickos and the safety of the plane is left to be at the EXACT minimums required, and they cheat often at those. Airbus is the culture of death. If you own stock in them, you are a killer. If you work for them, you are a killer.

Tsunami-hit Thais told: Buy six planes or face EU tariffs

Published Date: 19 January 2005 By FRASER NELSON

TSUNAMI-struck Thailand has been told by the European Commission that it must buy six A380 Airbus aircraft if it wants to escape the tariffs against its fishing industry.

While millions of Europeans are sending aid to Thailand to help its recovery, trade authorities in Brussels are demanding that Thai Airlines, its national carrier, pays £1.3 billion to buy its double-decker aircraft.

The wing of the Airbus A380 static test specimen suffered a structural failure below the ultimate load target during trials in Toulouse earlier this week, but Airbus is confident that it will not need to modify production aircraft.

The airframer has been running load trials on a full scale A380 static test specimen in Toulouse since late 2004 (pictured below). After completing "limit load" tests (ie the maximum loads likely to experienced by the aircraft during normal service), progressively greater loads have been applied to the specimen towards the required 1.5 times the limit load. Engineers develop finite element models (FEM) to calculate the load requirements.

"The failure occurred last Tuesday between 1.45 and 1.5 times the limit load at a point between the inboard and outboard engines," says Airbus executive vice president engineering Alain Garcia. "This is within 3% of the 1.5 target, which shows the accuracy of the FEM." He adds that the ultimate load trial is an "extremely severe test during which a wing deflection of 7.4m (24.3ft) was recorded".

Airbus, scarebus... (0)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 2 years ago | (#38632766)

Has anybody said "scarebus" yet?

Re:Airbus, scarebus... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38632954)

about 30 times in the post just before yours!

he also complains that it isn't able to reach its wing-load test. (it failed by not being able to deflect its wings by 7 meters 145%+ the expected maximum ever wingload of the plane.

I mean, sure, I want my planes to be really safe. But, if I am ever in a plane where the wings are flexing 7+ meters, I am not blaming the plane for the crash. It is either the kamikaze pilot TRYING to break the plane, or some god-awful winds (and a kamikaze pilot for flying us into them).

Re:Airbus, scarebus... (1)

lightknight (213164) | more than 2 years ago | (#38633174)

Fair enough. Just how far did these wings flex before failing the test?

6.9 meters? 1 meter? 4 meters?

Airplanes are required to have some flexibility (the idea of which appears at odds with airplane construction to the layman), for the simple reason that, among other things, airplanes that are too rigid will crack on landing. Mind you, we are speaking about an aircraft's wings here, not the fuselage of the aircraft, so there may be different reasons for flexibility, but the theory is still sound. A wing which cannot absorb a shock safely will probably sheer off during heavy turbulence, but then, I am not an aviation engineer, and I do not know the reasonings behind the institution of this test.

 

Bad call by a union, nothing more (5, Informative)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 2 years ago | (#38632780)

Airbus have issued an inspection notice saying it's a materials issue, and that airlines should inspect at an aircrafts 4 year inspection interval. They would not do so, and would be overruled by the European safety body EASA, if they thought otherwise.

This has been discussed to death on aviation industry forums, and the general consensus is it's a non-issue - the calls for grounding are being headed by an industry union, not a regulatory body.

Every aircraft has cracks in it, even brand new ones - in this case, it's in a non-critical location and is non-load bearing. A check at the 4 year point is adequate for this type of discovery.

Re:Bad call by a union, nothing more (4, Interesting)

SerpentMage (13390) | more than 2 years ago | (#38632860)

Shhh.... Boeing does not do this....

http://abcnews.go.com/US/southwest-airlines-boeing-knew-737-flaw-expect-problem/story?id=13300089#.TwomuU8gifg [go.com]

"The aviation giant Boeing admitted today that it was aware of weaknesses in its 737 jets, but it never expected a 15-year-old Southwest Airlines jet to crack open in mid-flight. "

So why is this an issue with Airbus? One you said union, but I wonder if there is not some Boeing prodding going on here!!!

Re:Bad call by a union, nothing more (2)

unrtst (777550) | more than 2 years ago | (#38633032)

At 00:25 - 00:26, for some strange reason, the news lady says "It's an Airbus jet" very quickly. I don't think the word "Boeing" is even mentioned in the video, yet it is regarding a Boeing 737. Simple slip up? Seems very odd to me.

Re:Bad call by a union, nothing more (5, Informative)

GumphMaster (772693) | more than 2 years ago | (#38633122)

I wonder if there is not some Boeing prodding going on here!!!

No, its a continuation of union action against Qantas that precipitated the airline voluntarily grounding its entire fleet in October in order to force arbitration in the disputes. The maintenance engineering union is ceasing on any little thing it can to show that maintenance by "other" parties is deficient. They use the same scare tactic equally against Boeing, Airbus and Bombardier (the Q fleet), its just the last few high profile incidents have been Airbus. They rely on ignorance, some of which is on display in this comment stream and Australian media, about what constitutes a threat to safety or a maintenance issue.

Cracks in aircraft (Boeing, Airbus, Embraer or Tiger Moth) are inevitable and routine, as is the inspection for them. In this case there is repair activity that can take place when the aircraft is next in for major work. You could opt to do it earlier at the expense of unscheduled downtime for a "warm fuzzy" feeling, but bean counters are rarely warm and fuzzy.

Re:Bad call by a union, nothing more (1)

GumphMaster (772693) | more than 2 years ago | (#38633132)

D'oh! seizing not ceasing!

Why do the cracks develop? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38632908)

"Every aircraft has cracks in it, even brand new ones - in this case, it's in a non-critical location and is non-load bearing."

It seems to me there must be some load stressing the components that have cracked. Whether the load is generated by aerodynamics during flight, thermal cycling from ground to very cold at altitude, or something else, it troubles me that metal is cracking when it isn't supposed to. Cracks can propagate unless they're pinned or fixed with local doublers.

What causes the cracking noted on the A380, and why is it considered insignificant?

Re:Bad call by a union, nothing more (2)

Michael Woodhams (112247) | more than 2 years ago | (#38633184)

Don't take it for granted that the EASA will do the right thing. The FCC didn't in response to the Windsor incident [wikipedia.org] , thus failing to prevent the, at the time, worst ever airliner crash. [wikipedia.org]

Having said that, I'm not going to get worried about this until I see a number of independent aviation engineers getting worried. Your comment on the consensus of aviation industry forums is reassuring.

just duct tape it (3, Interesting)

Trepidity (597) | more than 2 years ago | (#38632786)

Fun fact: that is actually legal in some cases [wikipedia.org] ...

Re:just duct tape it (5, Interesting)

Volante3192 (953645) | more than 2 years ago | (#38632888)

Well, except speed tape isn't duct tape...so, -1 Misleading Subject.

Unions winging over planes being serviced in Asia. (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38632788)

This is just the unions posturing as part of their ongoing winging about Qantas doing more and more servicing of aircraft in Singapore and Malaysia. When a problem occurs in an aircraft which was actually serviced in Australia they are are strangely silent. At any other time they will winge and make loud noises to try and make it appear they are still relevant and try and somehow force all aircraft servicing to be brought back to Australia. This has been going on for years and stories on the nightly current affairs shows about it is a regular thing.

De haviland Comet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38632794)

Somehow the De Havilland Comet comes to mind.....

"a few years after introduction into commercial service, Comet airframes began suffering from catastrophic metal fatigue, which in combination with cabin pressurisation cycles, caused two well-publicised accidents where the aircraft tore apart in mid-flight"

very interesting...

Re:De haviland Comet (1)

JavaBear (9872) | more than 2 years ago | (#38632928)

The Comet were another issue entirely, and at the time unknown materials problem.

as an aerospace engineer (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38632796)

I can say that composites are fucking weird... the cracks may have been accounted for in the design... kinda crappy but sometimes you are designed into a corner.

I don't have a picture of the cracks so i can't really make a good determination but if its composite and on the surface its pretty much harmless and if nessesary can be fixed with local resin cure.

The ones you got to worry about...

YOU CANNOT F***ING SEE BECAUSE THEY ARE BURIED IN THE STRUCTURE THATS WHY OLD SCHOOL ENGINEERS ARE SCARED TO HELL ABOUT COMPOSITES.

Re:as an aerospace engineer (4, Informative)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 2 years ago | (#38633120)

It's not a composite material, it's a grade of aluminium used in a non-load bearing rib in the wing, used to maintain the wings aerodynamic shape. The cracks were found on one of the feet on the rib, which attach the rib to the wing skin. There are multiple other routes for the load, which is why this is considered non-load bearing and not an issue.

Re:as an aerospace engineer (1)

The End Of Days (1243248) | more than 2 years ago | (#38633234)

Old people are scared of everything new. We pat them gently on the head, say "yes, we know the microwave is slowly poisoning you" and go on about our lives.

Harmless (4, Funny)

ildon (413912) | more than 2 years ago | (#38632818)

Recently downgraded to: "Mostly harmless."

Harmless cracks (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38632820)

Are not bugs. These are features. Made intentionally to remind people that they are flying in a European plane.

Airplane 3 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38632822)

..says the cracks are harmless...and don't call me Shirley. /Sick I know but this that statement is a joke/

Composite materials (0)

gr8_phk (621180) | more than 2 years ago | (#38632886)

Composites are different than aluminium. What constitutes "normal" is different than the old stuff. Perhaps people need to do some learning? I'm not a materials engineer, so I don't know - but apparently neither do the people raising the red flag.

Re:Composite materials (1)

kschendel (644489) | more than 2 years ago | (#38632960)

The cracks are in aluminum wing rib feet. Has nothing to do with composites.

who (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38632930)

uses commercial aircraft anymore?

honestly, private jets are the way to go...

Re:who (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38633090)

uses commercial aircraft anymore?

honestly, private jets are the way to go...

Disagree... UAV-es are the way to go.

Airbus is screwing boeing constantly. (2)

unity100 (970058) | more than 2 years ago | (#38633088)

They are outcompeting them. And, boeing australia is boeing's largest outfit outside continental usa.

https://www.google.com/search?q=boeing+australia&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a [google.com]

and now, not any country in eu or eu commissions (that are MUCH more stringent than any kind of regulatory body in usa or any place else) have not found any problems with boeings, but, very Inconspicuously, australians did. the fact that boeing's largest outfit outside u.s. is residing in australia, is just a coincidence, i assure you .........

Industrial Action (5, Insightful)

ausrob (864993) | more than 2 years ago | (#38633156)

I'd wager this has a whole lot more to do with last year's grounding of the entire fleet (due to negotiations failing with unions) and the ongoing labour dispute than anything technical. As others have already mentioned, the A380 has been widely discussed in aviation-specific forums, it's likely this is a move to highlight the ongoing issues within Qantas

blah... a little scotch tape and some super glue.. (1)

youn (1516637) | more than 2 years ago | (#38633180)

should be fine :p... nothing to worry about :p

Union doesn't like A380s (3, Informative)

Goonie (8651) | more than 2 years ago | (#38633238)

Some of the more alarmist comments about the A380 are coming from the aircraft engineers union IIRC.

There's a context here - the A380 heavy maintenance is not done in Australia (and so not done by their members) and Qantas and the union are currently in a massive industrial bunfight.

So any negative comments about A380 safety have to be taken in that context.

Famous Last Words (1)

Whiteox (919863) | more than 2 years ago | (#38633250)

but Airbus says the cracks are harmless

Yeah sure.....

Airbus comments... (1)

amoeba1911 (978485) | more than 2 years ago | (#38633252)

NASA said it was perfectly safe for space shuttle to take off in freezing cold weather. Sometimes the managers don't want to look like idiots so they make up shit without knowing what an o-ring is.
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