Airplane weight wrong: airline software classified women as children


Incorrectly programmed software ensured that every woman on board was classified as a child on several flights operated by the British airline Tui Airways and that the total weight was set significantly too low. This emerges from a report by the British Aircraft Accident Investigation Authority (AAIB), which has now become public. Accordingly, the difference on a flight from Birmingham to Palma de Mallorca on July 21 was particularly large because 38 women were sorted on board as children. The total weight of the flight was therefore 1244 kilograms higher than stated in the calculations. Even if the flight went off without any problems, the discrepancy is classified as a “serious incident”.

When aircraft were not allowed to fly during the first Corona restrictions in spring 2020, the reservation software was updated, it is said now in the report. Because the update was programmed in a country in which the English word “Miss” is used for children, the system classified women (“Miss”) as children after operations were resumed. An average weight of 35 kilograms is assumed for children, but 69 kilograms for women. There were sometimes significant deviations between the determined and the calculated total weight. The company did not disclose to the British media where exactly the programming takes place.

The problem had already been noticed during a flight on July 10th and corrected manually. After that, the employees at the counter were asked to pay special attention to women booking in and manually change all entries with “Miss” to “Ms.” to change. A software update then took over this rebooking, but only for passengers who had not already checked in. Therefore, there were a total of three flights on July 21 with such deviations in the weight information. Such discrepancies are not unusual, the pilot thought, and the flight was carried out without any problems.

Tui Airways now also assures that the safety of the flight was not endangered, the British media quote. The software has been corrected and further manual checks have been introduced. The company did not disclose in which country the programming took place and why “Miss” is mistaken for a child there. There have been aircraft accidents in the past, the cause of which was found in the incorrect calculation of the weight.


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