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Daesh terrorists have been repeatedly struck in the last few days by Royal Air Force aircraft providing support to Iraqi ground forces. As well as gathering invaluable intelligence on terrorist activity, they have conducted a large number of successful air strikes on Daesh positions. Typhoons worked closely with other coalition aircraft on Tuesday 2 February to target a group of terrorists manoeuvring in the open near Ramadi, hitting them with a Paveway IV guided bomb.
The Typhoons then flew to the area north of Habbaniyah, where they conducted a Paveway attack on a terrorist-held building. Wednesday 3 February saw both Typhoons and Tornados providing close air support to Iraqi forces clearing Daesh positions in the area around Ramadi. The Typhoons destroyed a terrorist building with a Paveway, then used two more Paveways to engage a pair of Daesh groups, armed with heavy machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades, which were engaged in close combat with Iraqi troops.
Despite the proximity of the friendly forces, the precision of the Paveways and careful planning by the aircrew allowed both targets to be struck successfully.
The Tornados similarly had to attack a series of Daesh positions close to Iraqi forces, and these were also highly successful: Paveway attacks accounted for four groups of terrorist fighters, including one heavy machine-gun and two mortar teams, and when machine-gunners opened fire on the Iraqis from the windows of a single storey building, the Tornados launched a pair of Brimstone missiles which accurately struck both windows.
You can watch the video here. Later in the day, Typhoons used a Paveway to destroy a mechanical excavator which had been converted into a large booby-trap, positioned amongst trees next to a road east of Ramadi. Here are the Typhoons in action. In northern Iraq, Tornados bombed a group of terrorists with a vehicle near Mosul. Typhoons bombed three Daesh positions, as well as a group of terrorists caught moving in the open, whilst Tornado GR4s again attacked extremists engaged in very close combat with Iraqi forces; Paveways were used to destroy a heavy machine-gun team and a strongpoint, but in one instance, the terrorists were so close to the Iraqi troops that even a Paveway could not be used safely.
The following day, Typhoons operated around Habbaniyah and Ramadi, using eight Paveways to destroy an armed truck, a recoilless gun, two Daesh-held buildings, a command and control position, two weapons caches and a workshop producing truck-bombs. On Sunday 7 February, Tornados used a Brimstone missile to destroy a truck-bomb near Habbaniyah, while Typhoon missions near Ramadi successfully attacked a garage containing an armed pick-up truck which was firing through the doorway at advancing Iraqi soldiers, and a terrorist-held building.
Throughout all these missions, the Typhoons and Tornados were supported by a Voyager air refuelling tanker, with Sentinel aircraft providing essential strategic surveillance support to the coalition. The people who wrote the code for the original MCAS system were obviously terribly far out of their league and did not know it. How can they implement a software fix, much less give us any comfort that the rest of the flight management software is reliable? That is big strike No.
Big strike No. Finally, the software relied on systems known for their propensity to fail angle-of-attack indicators and did not appear to include even rudimentary provisions to cross-check the outputs of the angle-of-attack sensor against other sensors, or even the other angle-of-attack sensor.
None of the above should have passed muster. I own a Cessna , the most common aircraft in history, at least by production numbers.
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My autopilot also includes electric pitch trim. If my Cessna is not being flown by the autopilot, the system nonetheless constantly monitors the airplane to make sure that I am not about to stall it, roll it inverted, or a whole host of other things. What, then, are the differences? It means that the autopilot manufacturer and the FAA both agreed that my Cessna with its Garmin autopilot was so significantly different from what the airplane was when it rolled off the assembly line that it was no longer the same Cessna It was a different aircraft altogether.
Of particular note in that documentation, which must be studied and understood by anyone who flies the plane, are various explanations of the autopilot system, including its command of the trim control system and its envelope protections. There are instructions on how to detect when the system malfunctions and how to disable the system, immediately.
Disabling the system means pulling the autopilot circuit breaker; instructions on how to do that are strewn throughout the documentation, repeatedly. Every pilot who flies my plane becomes intimately aware that it is not the same as any other For example, the autopilot itself has a self-contained attitude platform that checks the attitude information coming from the G5 flight computers. If there is a disagreement, the system simply goes off-line and alerts the pilot that she is now flying manually.
Perhaps the biggest difference is in the amount of physical force it takes for the pilot to override the computers in the two planes.
In my , there are still cables linking the controls to the flying surfaces. The computer has to press on the same things that I have to press on—and its strength is nowhere near as great as mine.
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In my Cessna, humans still win a battle of the wills every time. That used to be a design philosophy of every Boeing aircraft, as well, and one they used against their archrival Airbus, which had a different philosophy. Hardware defects, whether they are engines placed in the wrong place on a plane or O-rings that turn brittle when cold, are notoriously hard to fix.
And by hard, I mean expensive. Software defects, on the other hand, are easy and cheap to fix. All you need to do is post an update and push out a patch. Back in the s, I wrote an article comparing the relative complexity of the Pentium processors of that era, expressed as the number of transistors on the chip, to the complexity of the Windows operating system, expressed as the number of lines of code.
I found that the complexity of the Pentium processors and the contemporaneous Windows operating system was roughly equal. It affected only a tiny fraction of Pentium users. Windows was also affected by similar defects, also affecting only fractions of its users. But the effects on the companies were quite different.
Where Windows addressed its small defects with periodic software updates, in Intel recalled the slightly defective processors. I believe the relative ease—not to mention the lack of tangible cost—of software updates has created a cultural laziness within the software engineering community. Moreover, because more and more of the hardware that we create is monitored and controlled by software, that cultural laziness is now creeping into hardware engineering—like building airliners. The job could be done at any time in the future with a software update. For the life of me, I do not know why those two basic aviation design considerations, bedrocks of a mind-set that has served the industry so well until now, were not part of the original MCAS design.
And, when they were not, I do not know or understand what part of the DER process failed to catch the fundamental design defect. The emphasis on simplicity comes from the work of Charles Perrow , a sociologist at Yale University whose book, Normal Accidents: Living With High-Risk Technologies , tells it all in the very title. Though such failures may seem to stem from one or another faulty part or practice, they must be seen as inherent in the system itself.
Nowhere is this problem more acutely felt than in systems designed to augment or improve safety. Every increment, every increase in complexity, ultimately leads to decreasing rates of return and, finally, to negative returns. Trying to patch and then repatch such a system in an attempt to make it safer can end up making it less safe. The original FAA Eisenhower-era certification requirement was a testament to simplicity: Planes should not exhibit significant pitch changes with changes in engine power. Because of that, the requirement—when written—rightly imposed a discipline of simplicity on the design of the airframe itself.
Now software stands between man and machine, and no one seems to know exactly what is going on. Body and Body Functions. Judith Dompierre. True Scary Stories: Volume One. Dark Mistress Aurora. Zombie Chicken Emergency. George Renn III. The Dark. Bryan Hall. Moonboots Are For Lovers. Jordan Nuttall.
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