Modern airplanes are increasingly driven by computers, software and automated systems, which is leading to very serious safety issues. And it isn't just hackers - pilots are increasingly unable to manually do key functions on aircraft, relying instead on software systems.
Airbus confirmed this weekend that if things go wrong with the software, it can indeed have fatal consequences.
A May 9th crash near Seville's San Pablo Airport killed four Airbus Defense and Space personnel testing its new A400M, a military cargo plane.
The European aircraft manufacturer confirmed the fatal crash that has stalled its A400M program was caused by engine control software.
Highlighting just how complicated the new systems are, the problem wasn't even that the software was buggy. It was just installed incorrectly.
Marwan Lahoud, Airbus' chief strategy officer, told a German newspaper that the company does not believe there to be a problem with the airframe: “The black boxes attest that there are no structural defects, but we have a serious quality problem in the final assembly”.
The final assembly process that installed the software incorrectly required manual configuration and it appears that the crashed plane had incorrect parameters set.
Airbus had already informed A400M operators – Germany, Britain, Turkey and France – to examine the planes' Engine Control Unit.
While the results are something of a relief, as a software fix is much cheaper than the fixing a defect in physical build quality, Airbus will need to work hard to reassure customers the plane is not overly complicated.
The news that a mere software configuration can crash a plane comes on the heels of a security researcher demonstrating recently its possible to hack modern passenger jets through the in flight entertainment system and control the engines.
Both incidents show that as computers become more connected and we increasingly rely on them, security must remain in the forefront to avoid catastrophic accidents.