Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login

All I know in detail is the 757 system, which uses triply-redundant hydraulic systems. Any computer control of the flight control systems (such as the autopilot) can be quickly locked out by the pilot who then reverts to manual control.

The computer control systems were dual, meaning two independent computer boards. The boards were designed independently, had different CPU architectures on board, were programmed in different languages, were developed by different teams, the algorithms used were different, and a third group would check that there was no inadvertent similarity.

An electronic comparator compared the results of the boards, and if they differed, automatically locked out both and alerted the pilot. And oh yea, there were dual comparators, and either one could lock them out.

This was pretty much standard practice at the time.

Note the complete lack of "we can write software that won't fail!" nonsense. This attitude permeates everything in airframe design, which is why air travel is so incredibly safe despite its inherent danger.

This is such a cool comment. Thanks for writing it.

The shuttles had similar concepts - various flaps had multiple redundant hydraulic pumps to control them so that even if one went nuts and started going in reverse that other pumps would over power it, and the result would simply be slower response times.

Gosh, this is an incredible comment. I see in greater detail what is meant by your illustration of "dual path." I had no idea the systems-level design was so thoroughly isolated.

Thank you very much for taking the time to share and answer my question!

Guidelines | FAQ | Lists | API | Security | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact