I’ve been following the story about the Brazilian airliner that crashed last month. In this afternoon’s story, they reveal some things from the flight recorder, including an indication that one of the throttles was in the wrong position. When they landed, they couldn’t activate the spoilers, and one reason might be this:
Folha speculated that the plane’s computer system could have interpreted an incorrect throttle position as evidence the pilot was trying to take off again, automatically disabling the spoilers.
Couple that with a talk I heard last week from Danny Hillis where he talked about how code you write could stay around forever, and I shutter to think about where some of the stuff I’ve written in the past could end up. But it really shows the reliance we have on software, and how it really is difficult to catch all of those edge cases. I just hope no one needs an XML Menuing system for their airliner.