Unreliable airspeed events pose a significant challenge (and safety risk) because such situations throw onto aircrew the most difficult (and error prone) of human cognitive tasks, that of ‘understanding’ a novel situation. This results in a double whammy for unreliable airspeed incidents. That is the likelihood of an error in ‘understanding’ is far greater than any other error type, and having made that sort of error it’s highly likely that it’s going to be a fatal one. Continue Reading…
Archives For Technology
The technological aspects of engineering for high consequence systems.
While there’s often a lot of discussion about short term response of aircraft to control inputs, in practice it’s often the long term response of the aircraft state vector at constant thrust and neutral control inputs that’s just as important to flight control system designers. In the case of Airbus the selection by the designers of a modified C* feedback loop (1) for primary pitch axis control law (Airbus 1998) in flight has led to what you’d call interesting consequences. Continue Reading…
The Dreamliner and the Network
Big complicated technologies are rarely (perhaps never) developed by one organisation. Instead they’re a patchwork quilt of individual systems which are developed by domain experts, with the whole being stitched together by a single authority/agency. This practice is nothing new, it’s been around since the earliest days of the cybernetic era, it’s a classic tool that organisations and engineers use to deal with industrial scale design tasks (1). But what is different is that we no longer design systems, and systems of systems, as loose federations of entities. We now think of and design our systems as networks, and thus our system of systems have become a ‘network of networks’ that exhibit much greater degrees of interdependence.
While once again the media has whipped itself into a frenzy of anticipation over the objects sighted in the southern Indian ocean we should all be realistic about the likelihood of finding wreckage from MH370.
Separation of privilege and the avoidance of unpleasant surprises
Another post in an occasional series on how Saltzer and Schroeder’s eight principles of security and safety engineering seem to overlap in a number of areas, and what we might get from looking at safety with from a security perspective. In this post I’ll look at the concept of separation of privilege.
And not quite as simple as you think…
The testimony of Michael Barr, in the recent Oklahoma Toyota court case highlighted problems with the design of Toyota’s watchdog timer for their Camry ETCS-i throttle control system, amongst other things, which got me thinking about the pervasive role that watchdogs play in safety critical systems.