Is the Airbus A380 safe?

The first commercial flight of the Airbus A380 happened with much fanfare:

What Was it like to fly on the A380? BBC News Oct 25

A380 superjumbo lands in Sydney, BBC News Oct 25, 2007

But I question the safety of this Superjumbo jet because of my whistle blowing friend Joe Mangan. He was in charge of a group of engineers who designed and built this plane. It way over-ran its budget and its schedule. The superjumbo ended up costing over $17 billion dollars.

Joe pointed out that the off-the-shelf TiTech microchips that control the air cabin pressure had not been thoroughly tested (which Mangan estimated would take two years)  with the outflow valves for the cabin pressurization system.  This system had been  specially designed and redesigned for this airplane.  He would not sign off on it. TTTech fired him, filed civil and criminal defamation suits, and secured a gag order which Mangan did not abide by because he thought the people could die on the plane if the problem wasn’t fixed. He ended up bankrupt and probably in jail in Vienna.  I see nothing on the web to inform me that these tests were ever done.

Read all about it here.

So how did the A380 get certified? Here is what I could find out in briefly searching the web. This is from the Air Accident Current Newsletter:

Comments: This is at least the tenth special condition issued by the FAA for the A380. Previous special conditions were issued in 2005 covering a variety of A380 safety issues, including emergency evacuation, structural durability during a crash landing, loads imparted by seized engine components, gust loads, and ground turning loads on taxiways. The prevalence of special conditions is an indicator of the degree to which formal certification standards have not kept pace with the march of technology.

The electrical equipment bays in the A380 are along both cabins and over the cockpit. Recall the fire over the forward cabin and cockpit on the Swissair MD-11 that crashed in Halifax in 1998 was not discovered by the crew until the fire burned through the ceiling in the cockpit.

These various electrical equipment bays in the A380 may warrant the installation of closed-circuit television to enable the flight crew to discriminate between real fires and false alarms. Such a closed-circuit infrared camera system was installed in Swissair’s surviving MD-11s following the Halifax accident.

The special conditions do not address the need for fire suppression, such as built-in extinguishing systems, or a means to provide the crew with access to the electrical equipment bays to apply hand-held fire extinguishers (which may require a port for the extinguisher, as opening the bay may enable the inrush of cabin air, which could fan the flame).

Note that the FAA issued a type certification for the A380 on December 14, 2006. Thus, it approved the design of the airplane at the same time it was still issuing special conditions regarding its design. (emphasis added)

Here is Joe blowing the whistle.

Here is my other post on Joe.



Filed under News, Technology, youtube

7 responses to “Is the Airbus A380 safe?

  1. There is a discussion of this post on a Singapore Airline Forum at

  2. Aerobobby

    According to EADS, all parties have ensured through the most varied control channels that there is no safety deficit with regards to the scenario as described by Mangan [1]. All corresponding documents were reviewed and approved by EASA and FAA. The review process proved Mangan’s allegations to be wrong and was successfully finished in late 2006 when the Airbus A380 including the internal communication system and the microprocessors of the cabin pressure control system was certified by EASA and FAA

  3. Here are some other relevant links:


  4. Tony

    A380 incident.
    Left Heathrow, Singapore Air bound for Singapore 10 Aug 2009 @10.05 pm
    Could not close door on landing gear, circled London dumping fuel and returned to Heathow @ around midnight. I counted at least 11 Fire and incidents trucks on my side of the aircraft when we landed. Don’t know how many on the other side! Problem fixed and took off at 2.00am. 11 Aug 2009. We sat on board the whole time whilst refuelling. I thought this was a “NO NO”

  5. Pingback: A380 Engine Failure - Aircraft of World War II - Warbird Forums

  6. Pingback: 2010 in review | To the Moon

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