When it enters service in 2013 the Airbus A350's flight management system will contain safety tools that will reduce the risk of the most frequent accident types at take-off, en route and landing. These include automatic take-off performance figure checking, en route driftdown and diversion planning, and a runway overrun warning and protection system.
Airbus has already tested some of these systems in aircraft at its Toulouse base.
To protect against the incorrect entry of take-off speeds or weights, an A350 function called "take-off securing" checks the figures to see if they make sense relative to each other and against the FMS database. If there is an inconsistency, the pilots are alerted, and provided with the opportunity to check their figures and re-enter them.
During flight, if there is a failure that forces the aircraft to descend, such as loss of an engine or pressurisation failure, the FMS will provide the crew with drift-down data and, if the aircraft is over mountains, safe escape routes.
If the pilots specify a chosen diversion, the FMS will suggest a detailed flightplan and do all the calculations. If the pilots want to be mentally prepared for an eventuality, they can ask the FMS "what if" questions and review the proposed solutions.
Before or during descent to a destination airport, pilots can set up the runway overrun protection system to review what the aircraft's landing performance will be under the current conditions.
They will be shown, on the navigation display, a graphic of the chosen runway with two lines across it, the first showing where the aircraft would stop if it is dry, the second if wet. If the runway is too short a warning is generated.