A380 Waste Management System

A recent meeting held at York University brought forward the criticality of one of the real-time systems onboard the Airbus A380 – the waste management system.

The Airbus A380 is the world’s largest passenger airline and it flies long distances. As such its human waste management systems have to handle a large volume of material.

Of course the material that ends up in the system was on the plane from the moment in took off but at the moment of takeoff the weight is distributed throughout the plane while the longer the flight continues the more of that weight gets concentrated in the waste management system.

More than that – the plane is getting lighter all the time – because it is burning fuel – so not only does the weight get shifted to a more confined region of the plane, it is relatively more important.

Hence the software on the A380 that manages the toilets is a safety critical system – and has to meet some quite exacting standards.

 In Toulouse, France, three-quarters of the waste collected and sorted at the area’s Airbus sites is recycled or sent for material recovery, with the rest used for energy-generation purposes. These facilities produce as much non-hazardous refuse as a town with 3,400 households; during 2010, 500 tonnes of wood, more than 400 tonnes of paper and 1,100 tonnes of metal scrap and chips were recycled thanks to a new “sorting attitude.” 

The sorting rules are the same in the offices at Airbus’ headquarters and its design/production operation: everything that can be recycled – including paper with a coloured background – must be thrown away in designated blue dustbins; paper with a white background in shredders or baskets; and waste that requires incineration in yellow dustbins.