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Sherlock Ohms

Skepticism Prevented a Nasty Crash

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tekochip
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Platinum
Frightening
tekochip   10/3/2012 8:49:11 AM
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That's why it's so important to do a complete and thorough preflight, especially after any service.  Thankfully I've never found any problem other than compass deviation.  From time to time I've mentioned that people should do predrive with automobiles as well.  At the very least, check all your tires every time you get in the car, and stomp on the brakes to see if they work.


Dave Palmer
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Platinum
Re: Frightening
Dave Palmer   10/3/2012 11:28:09 AM
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This is indeed "frightening." Maybe Design News should be highlighting this kind of scary story as we approach Halloween.

What stands out to me is how the crew's attitude changed when Len hit the "gear up" switch.  He was right from the beginning, but no one took his concerns seriously until he had a physical demonstration.  Then he quickly won everyone to his side.

This should be a lesson to all engineers that "show" is better than "tell."

naperlou
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Frightening
naperlou   10/3/2012 1:24:38 PM
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Dave, that is a good point.  Showing is better.  Maybe we should all be from Missouri. 

It is amazing that aircraft, being as complex as they are, are so reliable.  You are more likely today to hear that there was a problem with a pilot than with a airplane. 

Charles Murray
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Blogger
Re: Frightening
Charles Murray   10/3/2012 6:56:09 PM
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Indeed, showing is better. I could easily imagine a group of engineers saying this isn't a problem. It's a lot easier to assume nothing's wrong.

TJ McDermott
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Blogger
Re: Frightening
TJ McDermott   10/3/2012 11:27:04 PM
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The spirit (or should I say ghost) of Richard Feynmann lives on.

I'm really, really surprised that the sliver wasn't accounted for during the modification.  Aircraft maintenance and fabrication is normally much more focused on accounting for everything that goes in and out of an aircraft.  Lost fasteners must be found and so forth.

Rob Spiegel
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Frightening
Rob Spiegel   10/4/2012 12:25:58 AM
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Good point about show being better than tell, Dave. The story is also a good arguement for healthy skepticism.

Johnathamilton
User Rank
Iron
Frightening - Show versus Tell
Johnathamilton   10/4/2012 9:20:15 AM
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Good points - I agree it is always more convincing to show than tell. We as engineers are often too busy to spend the time to figure out how to show - it's not always easy. But definitely worth it - especially when it comes to mission critical issues.

mblazer
User Rank
Silver
Stupid Questions
mblazer   10/4/2012 10:11:16 AM
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It is always better to ask stupid questions before the accident than having to testify before the Accident Review Board.

If doesn't look right, investigate until you're certain there is no problem or there is one.  Is someone's word that "it's good enough" equal to an aircrews' life?

benmlee2
User Rank
Gold
Re: Stupid Questions
benmlee2   10/4/2012 11:03:35 AM
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The longer I am in engineering, the longer I realize intuition is as important as math and numbers. Learning to listen to your intuition is as important as learning theories. There are so many interactions in a system, is impossible for anyone to systematically troubleshoot. Sometime when you are faced with a problem, is best to stand back and ask yourself what do you think. What does your little voice tell you.

rv8iator
User Rank
Iron
Single point failure
rv8iator   10/4/2012 11:12:12 AM
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 After reading the story I don't believe that Lockheed designed a single point failure mode of the primary flight control system.   All aircraft are designed with redundancy based on risk.  Flight control failure though low in risk is high in severity and thus qualifies for redundancy.

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