The Airbus 340 flight control system
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The Airbus A340 is a long-haul aircraft that includes a critical fly-by-wire flight control system that mediates pilot commands and controls flight surface actuators. This is a development of the first fly-by-wire system which was introduced in the Airbus A320 aircraft. It is of particular interest because of the approach used for hardware and software redundancy.

There is an excellent description of this system in Safety-Critical Computer Systems , Neil Storey. Addison Wesley, 1996.

Use in teaching

I use this example to supplement a lecture on fault-tolerent system architectures. It also illustrates how fault-tolerant systems must use multi-level redundancy to be safe.

Related chapters

Chapter 15: Real-time systems design
Chapter 20: Critical systems development

Supporting documents

General information on Airbus A340 aircraft

Overview of flight control system

My Powerpoint presentation prepared from the case study in Storey's book that give an overview of the A340 system. Download PDF versions from here.

System specification Part 1- Airbus 330/340 FCS
System specification Part 2- Airbus 330/340 FCS

More detailed information on the Airbus A340 FCS - from a course given at the University of Twente.

Report on RISKS of problems with A340 system

Problems were experienced on landing an A340 at Heathrow Airport London. This is a brief discussion of these problems and the causes that were identified in the subsequent incident report. The plane landed safely.