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Computers or People, Who do you trust. Air France related.

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posted on Jun, 8 2009 @ 10:39 PM
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The recent Air France tragedy poses an interesting Question. Where do you place your trust... A computer program, or a battle tested human pilot? The Airbus plane that went down in the Atlantic was flown by a computer. Airbus planes do not allow a pilot to overide the computer in an emergency, while Boeing planes do allow pilot overide. If the air speed sensors were at fault as the news seems to be reporting, then an experienced pilot could have chosen a specific plan to counter the problem while a blinded computer would have been misled by the false data.


"It's no secret that commercial airplanes are heavily computerized, but as the mystery of Air France Flight 447 unfolds, we need to come to grips with the fact that in many cases, airline pilots' hands are tied when it comes to responding effectively to an emergency situation. Boeing planes allow pilots to take over from computers during emergency situations, Airbus planes do not.
IF
Computers key to Air France Crash

There are a number of other cases where computers run our lives. Is this the best course of action? Certainly computers can process millions of calculations in the time it takes us to blink an eye, but are their rapid binary processes sufficient when it comes to human lives? We are entering a brave new world where our lives are more and more becoming effected by silicon control. In many cases this is a good thing, could you set off your own vehicle air bag in time by yourself? I question whether when human life is at risk is it Always a good choice to let a machine make crucial decisions?

What do you think about our new silicon nannies? Where do we draw the line? When buying a plane ticket, should we be informed of the absolute digital control over the plane?

[edit on 8/6/09 by Terapin]




posted on Jun, 8 2009 @ 10:57 PM
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Interesting.

I had no idea that Airbus doesn't allow the pilot to take over.

That makes me uneasy.

When it comes to a heat of the moment scenario, I'd want an experieced human giving it his best.

Just look at Cpt. Sully and what he pulled off in the Hudson river!

I can't imagine the pilot for the AF flight wouldve been able to manage much in the middle of the Atlantic either... but, you never, know... we'll never know.

Computers are necessary but these high ranking pilots have flght experience which computers can't replicate.



posted on Jun, 9 2009 @ 04:06 AM
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reply to post by Terapin
 


I was able to test this myself with a flight simulator few years ago with x-plane: x-plane.com. Ironically, using a similar aircraft, the Airbus A340

Flew the plane directly into the heart of the thunderstorm at 90% of maximum speed permittable. The severe turbulence wreaked havoc with the autopilot, and with the autopilot not able to keep up with the rapidly changing airspeed readings and attitude changes, the plane went into severe excursion from its safe flight envelop and eventually broke apart in midair.

I did the same thing again but 'hand-flown' the plane in the next instance. This time, I was able to cross the violent heart of the thunderstorm without breaking the aircraft apart or losing control. It was still difficult fighting the controls though.

I think the key to safety was keeping the throttle fixed at cruise settings, this prevented radical/dangerous airspeed departures. It's kinda complicated letting the autopilot throttle the engines to maintain airspeed, for one, it takes some time for Jet engines to 'rev up' or 'rev down' and response is poor. AP response at this moment may be different in the next. This is where experienced humans are better at - anticipation.



posted on Jun, 9 2009 @ 06:10 AM
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Originally posted by ahnggk
reply to post by Terapin
 


Flew the plane directly into the heart of the thunderstorm at 90% of maximum speed permittable. The severe turbulence wreaked havoc with the autopilot, and with the autopilot not able to keep up with the rapidly changing airspeed readings and attitude changes, the plane went into severe excursion from its safe flight envelop and eventually broke apart in midair.

I did the same thing again but 'hand-flown' the plane in the next instance. This time, I was able to cross the violent heart of the thunderstorm without breaking the aircraft apart or losing control. It was still difficult fighting the controls though.



Download a F117A model and try to fly it without a computer, you'll be flying it safely in no time. Try to fly a F117A in real life without the aid of the computer - you are dead after 30 seconds.

Anyways, x-plane assumes a non deffective airspeed sensor, if you crashed then it was your fault for making it go through a thunderstorm at high speeds, when you shouldn't be doing that - the autopilot has limitations too and you should know them(though in real life I suspect the computer may have been able to keep up with the changes that your home computer couldn't)

Dunno if you ever watched the Kid in Cockpit documentary. Near the end they show how the aircraft could have been saved if the pilots had let the computer take over at the very last instant - and in fact the disaster could have been prevented if they knew how to properly use the autopilot in the first place. IMO they shouldn't balme the kid, nor the computer, but the bad training the pilots received on that particular case.



posted on Jun, 9 2009 @ 06:24 AM
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Instinct trumps logic every time.

I do not trust computers that run our lives. I would rather have a human do such a thing.


Which would you prefer, a robot doctor with an encyclopedia in it's modem or a human being with the ability to connect with you?

I'll go with human any day.



posted on Jun, 10 2009 @ 01:05 PM
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Originally posted by daniel_g

Download a F117A model and try to fly it without a computer, you'll be flying it safely in no time. Try to fly a F117A in real life without the aid of the computer - you are dead after 30 seconds.

Anyways, x-plane assumes a non deffective airspeed sensor, if you crashed then it was your fault for making it go through a thunderstorm at high speeds, when you shouldn't be doing that - the autopilot has limitations too and you should know them(though in real life I suspect the computer may have been able to keep up with the changes that your home computer couldn't)


I know about the F-117, it's a very unstable design due to its stealth requirements. Impossible to be safely flown by hand, but must be equipped by fly-by-wire. Actually, most modern fighter aircraft are unstable by design to improve maneuverability so fly-by-wire is mandatory, they can't be safely flown manually without the aid of computer. Some of the fighter models in X-Plane will actually exhibit realistic behavior - turn off the fly-by-wire, and you're in for a big trouble(there are no eject seats in x-plane!!)

And regarding the simulation I conducted. Actually it's not my home computer's fault but either the x-plane software's or the model designer's fault. The computer used on real Fly-By-Wire systems of airliners are actually lower performance than home computers!

en.wikipedia.org...


Even though the A320 family is technologically advanced, some of the computers at the heart of the fly-by-wire system are built around CPUs[9] like the Intel 80186 and Motorola 68010. While these chips may not offer anywhere near the performance of modern processors, especially on Personal Computers or servers, they are generally stable and reliable






[edit on 10-6-2009 by ahnggk]



posted on Jun, 10 2009 @ 01:17 PM
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I personally would prefer experienced pilot over top-grade computer in commercial aircraft. But people can make mistakes too, and actually make it more then computers do. Still - letting computer to take over in all complex tasks will eventually make us nothing more then couch potatoes.



posted on Jun, 10 2009 @ 01:32 PM
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Originally posted by ZeroKnowledge
I personally would prefer experienced pilot over top-grade computer in commercial aircraft. But people can make mistakes too, and actually make it more then computers do. Still - letting computer to take over in all complex tasks will eventually make us nothing more then couch potatoes.


Actually, autopilots aren't new, nor exclusive to Airbus

en.wikipedia.org...

And pilots don't actually let the autopilot handle the aircraft from take-off to landing. Pilots do the take-offs and landings themselves.

It's highly recommended to just let the autopilot handle the climb, cruise, descent, and some maneuvers though, for the interest of fuel economy and passenger comfort.

I've tried a 4-hour flight myself in a realistic flight simulator, both in Microsoft and X-Plane(I have the usual stuff, joystick, pedals, throttle, and a rudimentary cockpit). I'd rather let the autopilot handle the cruise or I'll be so tired when I arrive that I might crash the plane on landing!!
I'm actually serious!

In an emergency or bad weather though, it's always prudent to carefully monitor the aircraft and be ready to intervene when necessary. However, in zero-visibility conditions, the pilot is only as good as the instruments, unless you got ESP


[edit on 10-6-2009 by ahnggk]



posted on Jun, 10 2009 @ 02:37 PM
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I trust both. The computer needs overrides and multiple backup systems... AND... the pilots need training and practice. Lack of training/poor training has been a factor in two big crashes in the past 4 months... that, and pilot fatigue.

Humans do not need to be run like machines.



posted on Jun, 13 2009 @ 06:27 PM
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While trusting Both is fine, unfortunately the Airbus does not allow that option. During an emergency, the computer has control.

I agree that a pilot needs proper training and experience, and that computer assistance is a good idea, but allowing a computer to take total control, with no override, is a bad idea.

Would you sit in a lawn chair, while a large robo mower cut your grass, and you did not have the option to either shut off the mower, nor the ability to leave your lawn? Take it one further, would you allow your toddler to play on the lawn???

Sometimes it is not a good idea to allow total computer control without human involvement. That is why nuclear power plants always have human operators.



posted on Jun, 14 2009 @ 10:25 AM
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Originally posted by ahnggk

And regarding the simulation I conducted. Actually it's not my home computer's fault but either the x-plane software's or the model designer's fault. The computer used on real Fly-By-Wire systems of airliners are actually lower performance than home computers!

en.wikipedia.org...


Even though the A320 family is technologically advanced, some of the computers at the heart of the fly-by-wire system are built around CPUs[9] like the Intel 80186 and Motorola 68010. While these chips may not offer anywhere near the performance of modern processors, especially on Personal Computers or servers, they are generally stable and reliable




That's true, your computer may have much higher specs than those onboard a A320. The difference is that the computers on the A320 are designed to perform very specific tasks and not millions like your computer so chance of error is extremelly small.

"Despite their low cost, embedded computers often have the least tolerance for failure, since the results can vary from upsetting (when your new television crashes) to devastating (such as might occur when a computer in a plane or car crashes)". (Computer Organization and Design, Patterson, pg6)

btw, your are right when you say is xplanes fault + the models fault. The problem is that xplane does not allow super realistic parameters, like for example, what type of computer the autopilot uses (it pretty much assumes the same for all aircraft), and this won't change unless somehow one was able to use, say, an Intel 80186 in parallel with your current computer, or if a computer was powerfull enough to simulate a second computer in real time.




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