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Fly by Wire

2005-01-26 23:24:21.432494+00 by ziffle 4 comments

Next week I am going on a long flight on a Boeing 777. I read its' the first all computer engineered plane. It has fly by wire.

But should I fear this? Windows 2000?

"Each electronics unit comprises a pair of computers—partitioned off from each other—one running a Part 25-certifiable version of the Linux operating system and the other running Windows 2000. Each of the four computers contains a 40-gigabyte, sealed hard drive pressurized to 1 atmosphere to prevent a disc crash during rapid decompression. The Linux operating system, where the Level D applications reside, controls the display and allows reset of the Windows partition in flight."


Linux is there so they can reboot Windows? Should I worry?


[ related topics: Ziffle Free Software Microsoft Open Source Aviation Sports ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2005-01-26 23:32:43.735135+00 by: ziffle

Oh yes, Do you have to select "Start" to stop?


#Comment Re: made: 2005-01-27 00:13:20.010018+00 by: Dan Lyke

Whoah. The Linux[Wiki] part is there to run the display so that the control systems can be rebooted during flight? I'd feel so much better if it were the avionics that were prone to rebooting and the control systems were stable.

#Comment Re: made: 2005-01-27 00:26:12.120844+00 by: dexev

These computers will be completely partitioned off from any flight control (i.e. keeping the plane in the air) functions. The only specific app I saw mentioned was 'taxi position awareness' -- GPS navigation for airplanes on the ground, apparently. They also mention better connectivity to the airport's LAN -- which I imagine is for things like fuel, baggage, and catering schedules and departure info (anybody here ever work at an airport and can tell me?). Things that can be automated and clear up time for flight controllers.

One interesting note: apparently, only the linux computers will be 'Level D' certified, which is apparently is some kind of certification of reliability. The Windows side is (apparently) not certified. Anyone surprised?

I'd be more worried about drinking the water.

#Comment Re: made: 2005-01-27 16:42:33.740028+00 by: ebradway

Always the geek when it comes to software certification, I dug around and found that the "Level D" refers to the certification the FAA gives software based on FAA Regulation DO-178B (can't find a link to an actual document at FAA detailing it). There is an entire sub-market of training, verification software, and testing based on these levels, relating to how failure could affect the operation of an airplane:

Level E: No effect Level D: Minor effect Level C: Major effect Level B: Hazardous-severe effect Level A: Catastrophic effect

You can't use software that is certified to Level D to control systems that could have any kind of real effect on the operation of the aircraft. And since the FAA considers flight scheduling problems as part of operations, I would bet that Levels C, D, E are only used for systems that handle things like in-flight entertainment, refueling, food preparation, etc. Any actual flight controls would be Levels A and B.