A lot of the things we now enjoy have been made possible by our continually advancing computing technology. Man keeps on dreaming bigger things and that enables new discoveries and innovations to be made. Indeed, much has changed since our forefathers had first access to computers. And we’re not just talking about the technologies we use at home or smart technology but of even bigger and more complex industries like air travel.
The airline industry needs computers in order to function effectively and to even just basically exist. Airplanes are full of all sorts of gadgets and technologies to ensure a safe flight for everyone. There is so much technology involved yet surprisingly; they all work cohesively every time a plane flies to make sure the plane does as it should do. Not to mention the fact that most passengers now book their flights online, the sheer amount of technology used is just simply mind-blowing.
BRITISH AIRWAYS usually relishes the spring bank-holiday weekend, as families take advantage of the extended break to jet off somewhere pleasant. This year’s won’t end soon enough for the airline. A catastrophic computer failure on May 27th grounded over a thousand flights and caused chaos for flyers.
The incident, which was reportedly related to a power failure rather than a cyber-attack, will raise questions about the company’s IT system. But for those caught up in the turmoil, it will simply confirm how the service standards of this national airline have deteriorated. Indeed in some respects it showed a chilling disregard for customers.
Some people have plane jitters and you can’t blame them after watching movies like Turbulence and Snakes on a Plane. You’d realize how vulnerable you truly are when you are aboard the most lucrative vehicle in the planet.
As the nose of the aircraft rose and it started to lose speed, the automated voice barked out in English: “STALL STALL STALL.” Despite the warning, Bonin kept pulling back on the stick, and in the black skies above the Atlantic the plane climbed at an astonishing rate of 7,000 feet a minute. But the plane’s air speed was evaporating; it would soon begin to slide down through the storm and towards the water, 37,500 feet below. Had either Bonin or Robert realised what was happening, they could have fixed the problem, at least in its early stages. But they did not. Why?
The source of the problem was the system that had done so much to keep A330s safe for 15 years, across millions of miles of flying: the fly-by-wire. Or more precisely, the problem was not fly-by-wire, but the fact that the pilots had grown to rely on it. Bonin was suffering from a problem called mode confusion. Perhaps he did not realise that the plane had switched to the alternate mode that would provide him with far less assistance. Perhaps he knew the plane had switched modes, but did not fully understand the implication: that his plane would now let him stall. That is the most plausible reason Bonin and Robert ignored the alarm – they assumed this was the plane’s way of telling them that it was intervening to prevent a stall. In short, Bonin stalled the aircraft because in his gut he felt it was impossible to stall the aircraft.
Aggravating this confusion was Bonin’s lack of experience in flying a plane without computer assistance. While he had spent many hours in the cockpit of the A330, most of those hours had been spent monitoring and adjusting the plane’s computers rather than directly flying the aircraft. And of the tiny number of hours spent manually flying the plane, almost all would have been spent taking off or landing. No wonder he felt so helpless at the controls.
While many of you probably wondered what it is like to inflate a life vest, you wouldn’t really want to wish yourself in such a situation. Airplane disasters don’t always have a happy ending. Once the airplane’s computers or motors malfunction, the pilot can only do so much to salvage the situation. Of course, the goal is to land the plane (preferably on land) as safely as possible and with minimal losses (both properties and lives) but that does not always happen.
Can you also remember what it was like to be completely at the mercy of travel agents when booking flights? It’s the least convenient task and can be quite pricey too. But with today’s technology, you can now do your bookings online and you are free to choose the flight details and the amount you are willing to shell out for your travels. But more than just the convenience, safety should be your utmost concern when you are high up in the clouds in a vehicle that is virtually ran by computers.
Meanwhile, you may not get to fly an airplane in your lifetime aside from those in video games but you probably own a computer or two at home. You hate it when your computer does not work as it should be especially when the hard drive is involved because of the risk of data loss. Unfortunately, it is unavoidable no matter how careful you may be. When that happens, check this link when choosing a hard drive recovery service: http://www.harddriverecovery.org/blog/how-to-choose-a-hard-drive-recovery-service/. For more ideas on the tools to be used, this link may be helpful: http://www.harddriverecovery.org/blog/data-recovery-tools/.