Was Heathrow 777 crash caused by poltergeists?

Was Heathrow 777 crash caused by poltergeists?

Summary: Despite speculation (also here and here) that the January 17 crash of a BA airplane at Heathrow Airport was caused by defective software, the most recent Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) report does not draw this conclusion.

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Was Heathrow 777 crash caused by poltergeists?

Despite speculation (also here and here) that the January 17 crash of a BA airplane at Heathrow Airport was caused by defective software, the most recent Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) report does not draw this conclusion. Although the investigation has not yet unconvered the cause of the crash, preliminary analysis points toward the fuel system:

Investigations are now underway in an attempt to replicate the damage seen to the engine high pressure fuel pumps, and to match this to the data recorded on the accident flight. In addition, comprehensive examination and analysis is to be conducted on the entire aircraft and engine fuel system; including the modelling of fuel flows taking account of the environmental and aerodynamic effects.

Speculation that faulty software caused the accident arose because AAIB preliminary statements did not offer concrete findings:

The investigation is now focused on more detailed analysis of the Flight Recorder information, collecting further recorded information from various system modules and examining the range of aircraft systems that could influence engine operation.

THE PROJECT FAILURES ANALYSIS

Anyone involved with IT systems is keenly aware of the frequency with which software failures occur. In addition, many observers feel almost viscerally uncomfortable when a technical problem cannot be properly explained after some research.

This drive toward closure pushes some writers to accept a kind of "ghosts in the machine" logic, where they place unexplained technical phenomenon into a black box called "software failure." Such logic represents little more than poor thinking and, even worse, failure-mongering.

Instead of jumping to conclusions, I suggest we wait for the AAIB to complete it's investigation.

Topics: IT Employment, CXO, Software

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9 comments
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  • Fuel system probably contains software

    Software is everywhere in modern airplanes (and automobiles and just about everything else).

    Also, if it was a problem with damaged or worn hardware failing, it could be that the self test and diagnostics software in the plane failed to detect it, resulting it the hardware being ignored when it otherwise would have been replaced.

    So no one should count out software yet...
    Erik Engbrecht
    • Airplanes software bugs

      I just recently flew an airbus for 11 hours (I omit model)the one with the toilet in the belly. While my observation is not critical to the plane's safety I wonder if other pieces of software follow the same design. Here is what I consider poor software: The TV monitor in front of my seat activated by finger touch didn't work as it should. The screen did the job at doing something but not the right thing. I am sure 100 percent it was not a hardware problem. At the end of each movie or any video program the software would repeat a portion of the tail end of the movie and continue to the end until it finally ended and return to the main menu. I found this glitch very irritating. This was not the only bug I saw, I know what some of you are saying but I expect any piece of software to be free of bugs no matter what it does in the airplane.
      diriambino
    • We now see proof

      of the evil bestowed on us when we leave the slightest gap, through which the fork tailed ones will bring their anti-software.

      My lambs, we shall fight on until the day that all software comes from our creator in the Gardens of Redmond.
      catechumen
  • RE: Was Heathrow 777 crash caused by poltergeists?

    Ahhem! It is traditional to refer to Gremlins when discussing mysterious malfunctions in aircraft. Not poltergeists.

    In regards to the technical, it is possible for software to have been written without having considered a particular possability. This is not a bug. It is an unanticipated exception.

    While you might consider the difference without coming to understanding before you hit the ground, during such an event; It is entirely possible requires a wee bit more consideration than bad coding practices to ferrit out.
    Cyberbian
  • RE: Was Heathrow 777 crash caused by poltergeists?

    Has anyone ruled out the possibility that some stupid moron was using a mobile phone? or there was some transmitting device from the ground in preparation for a terrorist attack.
    OK, just asking
    a-bowmam
  • RE: Was Heathrow 777 crash caused by poltergeists?

    I think the fan engines were unspooled and when the power levers were pushed forward by the pilots the unspooled engine was not able to respond in time to prevent ground contact.
    E H Finkbeiner DAL Capt. Retired
    captleroy
  • RE: Was Heathrow 777 crash caused by poltergeists?

    First A320 was delivered to the Paris Air Show with Air France colors. The Air France pilot (who's name escapes me) extended the gear, max flaps, and slowly as possible overflew the runway -- publicity photos being the motive. A few moments later, the jet crashed nearby, in the trees. Pilot was fired, Air France saying he was drunk (I could be wrong, but that's what I remember) when he reported to the investigators: "I told the plane to go up, and it would not." Comes later: the FBW control system 'realized' the plane was configured for a landing, and 'insisted' on it when the pilot commanded the power up and climb. FBW, at the time, was supposed to moderate and arbitrate control inputs, so as to reduce the danger of a crash...

    In those immortal words of the TV policeman, "whoops, huh?"
    gjsherr
  • RE: Was Heathrow 777 crash caused by poltergeists?

    Fly by wire was feared for many years. How long to reboot the computers on the planes when in flight! Oh, NO! The hard drive is dead! Now we are dead!! Go back to tried and true. Give me a DC3, Thank you!
    gcreamer
  • RE: Was Heathrow 777 crash caused by poltergeists?

    The CIA blew up a Russian pipeline back 1982 by putting malware in software the Russians stole, er, liberated for the peoples of the world. Apparently the malware timed pump and valve operations to cause massive pressure waves. Something similar could have occurred by accident with the plane's software. So how, exactly, is "software failure" some kind of Luddite hobgoblin?
    Vesicant