Airlines Advised to Turn Old A350s 'Off and On Again Every 149 Hours' as Software Bug Fix

The old reboot trick airlines are being recommended has been used in common households for years.
Chris Young

"Have you tried switching it off and on again?"

The catchall fix for household electronics and digital devices has seriously been put forward as a software bug fix for Airbus's $300 million A350 models.

Planes that haven't yet received a new software update should be rebooted within this timeframe to avoid potentially dangerous side effects.


A worrying solution

As per Gizmodo, airlines that haven't had a recent software update installed on specific models of the Airbus A350 are being advised to completely power down and then power up their aircraft every 149 hours so as not to "risk partial or total loss of some avionics systems or functions,” according to a new EASA directive.

The directive is the result of a software bug that's caused by an issue with the plane's internal clock system. If the plane isn't effectively rebooted within the advised timeframe, the timer could go out of sync, affecting the whole system.

This is what the directive says about the issue:

"Depending on the affected aeroplane systems or equipment, different consequences have been observed and reported by operators, from redundancy loss to complete loss on a specific function hosted on common remote data concentrator and core processing input/output modules.

This condition, if not corrected, could lead to partial or total loss of some avionics systems or functions, possibly resulting in an unsafe condition."

Most Popular

A long-term fix?

Of course, airlines are all about overhead and the bottom line. Airplanes can take up to half an hour to fully reboot — the accumulated time would be costly for airlines in the longterm. 

Airlines Advised to Turn Old A350s 'Off and On Again Every 149 Hours' as Software Bug Fix
An A350 airplane cockpit (a little more complicated than a laptop). Source: Joao Carlos Medau/Flickr

The bug can be fixed with a software update that Airbus has included with the newer 1350-941s, and which can be retroactively installed into older models.

The issue?

Installing the update requires the plane to be taken out of service for maintenance and quality testing, something that would take considerably longer to perform than a simple power reboot. Not every airline wants their old models to be out of commission for so long — it really does sound like the conundrum countless people face when they have a niggling problem with their smartphones or laptops. 

message circleSHOW COMMENT (1)chevron