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CASE PROBLEM NUMBER 10 American Engineer Blows the Whistle on Airbus’ Superjumbo A380 The Airbus A380, the largest passenger airliner ever built, flew its maiden voyage on April 27, 2005. This superjumbo double-decker surpasses Boeing’s 747 in size, and orders have poured in, although the project is behind schedule and over budget. Popular Science named the Airbus A380 one of its 2005 Grand Award winners of the “Best of what’s New Award”. Indeed, the aircraft is a titanic project—complete with one lethal flaw, according to Joseph Mangan, an aerospace engineer from Kansas City, Kansas. In February 2004, Mangan moved to Vienna to work as an aerospace manager for TTTech Computertechnik AG, an Australian subcontractor that supplies the computer chips that control cabin pressure in the A380. Mangan says that by March 2004 he had confronted his employers about the problems with the documentation submitted to the U.S Federal Aviation Administration and the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), the two organizations that needed to certify the chips. By the summer, Mangan insists that he had discovered serious defects in the software and repeatedly requested that TTTech correct the software before continuing with the certification process. Finally, in September 2004, Mangan revealed the design flaw Airbus and EASA during an official audit. Mangan was fired a few days later. Mangan believes the flaw in the software could lead to rapid loss of cabin pressure, leaving pilots, crew, and passengers with little time to don their air marks. Experts believe that such depressurization may have contributed to the 2005 crash of a Boeing 737 in Greece, which killed 121 people, and the 2002 crash of a China Airlines Boeing 747, which killed 225 people. A typical passenger jet has two outflow valves that control cabin pressure. To achieve redundancy and ensures safety, manufactures install three separate motors, each with a different chip, to operate each outflow valve. For example, the Boeing 777 uses chips manufactured by Advanced Micro Devices, Motorola, and Intel. In addition, pilots can manually override this system on most jets. To reduce the superjumbo A380’s weight, Airbus decided to install four outflow valves—each operated by only one motor, and each motor driven by a TTTech controller chip. Mangan says he discovered that these chips were executing unpredictable commands when fed certain data. If one chip fails, he contends, all four will fail. So, while Airbus claims to have achieved redundancy by installing four outflow valves, Mangan vehemently rejects this assertion. His nightmare is that the failure of all four valves would cause the 555-seat jetliner to crash. Mangan says he felt a moral obligation to warn the public. In the event of a crash, Mangan could also be held legally accountable. After determining that a metal strip from Continental DC-10 sliced the tires of a Concord jet, causing

CSCI21 – Professional Ethics, Quality Consciousness and Social Issues in Computing

TTTech did identify and fix a glitch. 2. Quality Consciousness and Social Issues in Computing . unlike the United States.000 fine for violating that gag order.page number - a crash in 2000. Mangan is currently facing jail time for failing to pay a 185. In late 2005. but only as part of the routine software development and review process. As of July 2009. By late 2006. the Airbus A380—including the microprocessors that control the cabin pressure—was certified by EASA and the FAA. claiming that the information he released to the media was proprietary and that he has damaged the company’s reputation. TTTech was able to obtain a gag order from a Australian judge. what protection would Joseph Mangan receive as whistle-blower? 3. Poledna admits. Mangan risked a year in jail and went bankrupt trying to convince people of a problem. TTTech insists that Mangan was fired for poor job performance and is exacting revenge by trying to destroy the company. In the meantime. If TTTech were located in Kansas City rather than Vienna. If he were simply a disgruntled employee. The company has filed both civil criminal charges against Mangan. Questions: 1. TTTech’s CEO Stefan Poledna says the company never received any indication from EASA that its chip was noncompliant. Discuss the importance of redundancy to such safety-critical systems as the Airbus A380’s cabin. an EASA investigation concluded that TTTech’s chip was unacceptable and would have to be fixed before Airbus received certification for the A380. there are many ways he could do damage without putting himself under such pressure. the A380 has not been involved in any accident related to faulty cabin pressure control systems. the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company— manufacturer of the A380—issued a press release stating that all parties had “ensured through the most varied control channels that there is no safety deficit with regards to the scenario as described by Mangan. offers little protection for whistle-blowers.SECTION . French prosecutors went after the American mechanic who installed the stip. It is possible that there was a problem and that Mangan’s actions forced TTTech to address and fix it before EASA and the FAA discovered it themselves? CSCI21 – Professional Ethics. Australia.YOUR NAME .

SECTION . Quality Consciousness and Social Issues in Computing .YOUR NAME .page number - ANSWER: CSCI21 – Professional Ethics.

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