The F-22 Problem Could Have Been Worse, Right?
And here's where the F-22 Raptor, the newest US "superfighter", enters our story. About two weeks ago, a flight of F-22's headed for Japan crossed the International Date Line and got lost. What happened? The navigation software didn't make the proper distinction between "180 degrees West longitude" and "180 degrees East longitude". In fact, the fighters were in such trouble that they had to be escorted back to Hawaii by their accompanying tanker aircraft.
Now you'd think that, at a cost of $300M per, these aircraft would have top-notch software but apparently not. Well at least the it wasn't the avionics system flipping up to down or something like that. But in that spirit here's a list of Kvatch's favorite software bugs of all time:
The Mars Climate Orbiter
Scientists at Nasa JPL use meters. Engineers at Lockheed Martin use feet. The craft plunges too steeply into the Martian atmosphere. The engines overheat and shut down prematurely causing the poor spacecraft to bore straight through the atmosphere and head back into space.
Lockheed Again - The Mars Polar Lander
Faulty sensor software informs the flight computer that the lander has touched down when in fact it was still 40 meters above the martian surface. The descent engines cut off, and the $165M lander crashes at speed into the frozen landscape.
Before Melissa There Was the Morris Internet Worm
The first worm to cripple the nascent Internet, and all because the program forgot to check if a computer was already infected before infecting it again. Computers all over the nation went down in the first major Denial of Service attack.
The End of Time As We Know It
Many of you may not realize this, but time began on 1 January 1970 and will end on 19 January 2038 when the internal clocks on many older UNIX system will simply "roll over" and reset themselves. This particular issue is a splendid example of a bug programmed into a computer system with malice of forethought. The engineers simply assumed that no contemporary computer system would ever make it to the "end-o-time" date. Let's hope not!
The solution is obvious--they should have flown east to get to Japan.
Lindbergh must be laughing.
Mr_Blog! The sheer simplicity of it! Would have saved 'em a software update as well. ;-)
Deb... I think the problem with the training is that, when your somewhere between Mach's 1 and 2, you can't navigate fast enough to stay even close to on course.
Windspike...and these were expensive jets as well--not bargain basement stuff like the Tigershark (never made it into production).
Octavian... The F-22 bug is really sad too because it's just so damn obvious. What happened is likely to have been an attitude of, "Well...nobody would make that mistake!"
Betty...well only if your oxygen tank is attached to a 60 year old UNIX box. Now if you're a resident in a VA hospital...
PoP... QA is right. It's always the first thing to get cut back.
Knighterrant... A sextant a compass and a 35 year old UNIX box that knows the difference between 180W and 180E. Just wait until the time chance comes early.
I'm pretty certain someone got a new asshole over this one. Senior Air Force officers don't appreciate looking like idiots!!
I remember reading an article about the man who designed the sofware for the Voyager series of aircraft. He had less computing power to work with than a modern calculator has, yet look at what those two space craft were able to accomplish. It was his opinion that modern day code writers have become very lazy, writing slow, bloated programs that hog memory. (Windoze comes to mind.)
It was his opinion that modern day code writers have become very lazy...
Haris, Well...not all of us. ;-)
The Voyager probes were astounding accomplishments--right up there with the Mars Rovers which I think may be the most astounding space exploration project of all time.