Airbus Whistle-Blower Jailed?


An American aerospace engineer who made headlines last year when he blew the whistle on alleged deficiencies in the electronics controlling the pressurization valves on the Airbus A380 could wind up in jail just as the European Aviation Safety Agency has begun admitting there might be something to his claims. Joseph Mangan, who worked for the Austrian firm TTTech, told EASA in 2004 that flaws in the valve controls could cause a rapid decompression in the 800-seat airliner. His claims found little support and an Austrian court ordered him to stop talking about the issue. Mangan defied the court order and was fined $150,000, which he can’t pay. Meanwhile, an unnamed EASA source was “able to confirm certain statements by Mr. Mangan,” according to the London Daily Telegraph. For his part, Mangan could end up in jail for a year if he doesn’t soon come up with money to pay his fine. EASA officials are continuing their investigation of the problem despite the furious denials of Airbus and TTTech. An EASA probe has reportedly discovered deficiencies similar to those revealed by Mangen and ordered Airbus to fix them. Eva Lichtenberger, a member of the European Parliament, has threatened to launch a formal complaint to the European Commission unless Airbus breaks its silence on the issue. Meanwhile, the A380 is set to stretch its wings a little in a transcontinental shakedown flight to Singapore and Sydney next month.