The introduction of computers and electronic systems into aircraft has been generally positive, although there are many potential risks and concern that these are not being met effectively. The author provides a provoking presentation of aviation safety in an age of automation – Most Highly Recommended
NAME: The Dangers Of Automation In Airliners, Accidents Waiting To Happen FILE: R3233 AUTHOR: Jack J Hersch PUBLISHER: Air World, Pen & Sword BINDING: hard back PRICE: £25.00 GENRE: Non Fiction SUBJECT: Jet aircraft, technology, electronics, computerization, fly by wire, composite construction, computer modelling, engineering computers, life cycle modelling, software, cyber threats, automation, automatic landings, automatic take offs, airliners, passenger aircraft freight aircraft ISBN: 1-52677-341-7 PAGES: 262 IMAGE: B3233.jpg BUYNOW: tinyurl.com/y3vvw7dj LINKS: DESCRIPTION: The introduction of computers and electronic systems into aircraft has been generally positive, although there are many potential risks and concern that these are not being met effectively. The author provides a provoking presentation of aviation safety in an age of automation – Most Highly Recommended
The days of the ‘flying by the seat of his pants’ test pilot are long gone. Today, computers are used extensively during the design and development of new aircraft. Each new design has flown for many hours as a computer model before metal is cut, usually now by a computer-controlled milling or cutting machine, and a test pilot actually sits down at the controls. It is increasingly common for military and civilian aircraft to be festooned with sensors to record in fine detail everything that happens to the aircraft from engine start to engine stop. Computers receive and analyse this data to build the maintenance schedules and provide alerts if potential failures are detected. With equal commonality, the process of flying the aircraft from engine start, through take off and flight, to landing and engine stop is automated. The pilots frequently sit there ready to intervene if something starts to go wrong. Even then, they depend on computers to help them avoid catastrophe. With all this help and automation, many will wonder ‘what could possibly go wrong’. Others may think ‘to make a mistake you need a human, to really foul things up you need a computer’.
The basic danger is that the heart of any automated system depends heavily on the computer hardware and software. Computers have never received the risk attention their design, development, and operation requires. The huge promise of automation has put great pressure on developers to complete new products and put them to use in amazingly short time scales. Inevitably that means that Marketing insists on cutting corners to speed introduction and Accounts insists on ‘value engineering’ to shave every cent off the cost of production and marketing. With technology as complex as a computer-based system, short cuts are usually ‘accidents’ waiting to happen. As every real risk manager knows, ‘accidents’ are almost always mistakes that were entirely avoidable. Automation makes life even more complex because it requires close integration of sensors, motors, cabling, data processing and managing software. One small error can create multiple failures. Even in aircraft where there is still a pilot to intervene there are no longer manual components to take over. The failure that required intervention may have disrupted the systems that have to communicate the manual input to control the aircraft.