A380 delays

Does anyone else see a spooky parallel between the Airbus A380 delays being due to problems with wiring the entertainment system, and Douglas Adam’s flight delayed ‘awaiting the delivery of lemon-scented paper napkins, for your convenience’ – for millennia?

(Bonus marks for anyone who can tell me which Hitch-Hikers’ book that’s from. Stuffed if I can remember.)


  1. Definitely in series 2 on the radio. I don’t remember it being in the book, but then I haven’t read it for – glup – 20 years, so I’ll bow to Conor on that one.

  2. Actually, there might be a serious safety-critical system concern. You kind of want to guarantee that the entertainment system won’t interfere under any circumstances (especially failure) with any of the other aircraft systems. Then again, it might be as dumb as it sounds.

  3. Actually, the wiring problem is the symptom. The cause of that is due to incompatible software between EADS’ German and French divisions. This can be traced to the binational structure of EADS: Two chief facilities, two chiefs, two main shareholder groups, each trying to protect EADS operations in their own country. Basically when EADS and Airbus were created back in 2000/2001, they were never properly integrated (this occurred properly with other aerospace giants such as BAe, Boeing, Lockheed, Thales, etc.) and so the two sides didn’t really talk properly.

  4. so now they’re trying to figure out how to watch DVDs on their eight track cartridge player

  5. Damn, beaten to it 🙁
    The wiring problem is more to do with power. It’s designed for 300 seats and lots of gizmo’s. Then the Asians come on board, point out they could cram 500 people in, and so the power demands go up, and lots more seats need wiring in. Snag is that the design is already frozen, and assembly is thrown all over Europe. So it’s a real pig to sort out, stop, and introduce the changes. So big planes in Toulouse being slowly pulled apart and rebuilt, while barges full of wings sit in canals all over France.
    As for the comment about EADS management, I’m not allowed to comment, they’re a significant shareholder after all 😉 Strange how my employer manages to manage as a business, spread over 4 countries. The sooner they start using Primavera, the world’s premier project management solution, the better in my humble opinion. It’ll keep me busy anyway 😉

  6. Hang on a minute. Surely the A380 was planned for ~500 seats from the off? Or have they been caught out by trying to scale up systems designed for the A330/340, and being trapped by ballooning per-passenger power requirements (now we all want at-seat mains sockets and zillion-channel media servers)?

  7. Well, I thought it was a 550+ plane from day 1, but was told otherwise. But then, they could be wrong. After all, is apparent that the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing.
    The main flaw was allowing customisation by customers AFTER main assembly. It’s like building the house, plastering the walls, fitting the carpets, and then asking how many power sockets, broadband and in-house entertainment systems you want installing, and not expecting to have to rip holes in the walls and make a mess of everything.
    A lot of it is down to all those casino and inflight jacuzzi’s that have been shown, but obviously not designed in. What, you mean they won’t run off batteries…
    But, on the plus side it’s an amazing feat of engineering. To see the machining hall for the wing, lots of HUGE pieces of aluminium, and all British designed. AMAZING 😀

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