Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Software update risks in avionics: pre-flight briefings

Browsing the ASRS database can be educational. Search for ACN #875270 and you'll see these snippets of an anonymous comment about the risks of software updates and avionics for providing pilots with pre-flight briefings.

"I am a Flight Service specialist. I am reporting an ongoing and routinely occurring safety concern. About 2-3 times/month, the company takes down its primary briefing system, for various reasons - software updates/patches, security patches, information updates, etc. The entire system is taken down all at once, nationwide."
"Coupling this lack of knowledge with unreliable/incomplete data is a recipe that guarantees, in time, a tragedy for an unknowing pilot and passengers who placed their trust in our company."

Aviation Safety Reporting System
Pre-flight briefing

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Software risks and medical ventilators

Did a software glitch cause an oxygen delivery system to fail, leading to a patient's death?

Earlier this year, a person tragically died during ambulance transport. The article explains that it's believed a software glitch caused an oxygen system to fail, leading to the patient's death. A TV news team made a video of the the medical system and interviewed a paramedic (who was not the paramedic involved with the event). There is very little technical information publicly available about the event, except that there are multiple manufacturers involved. Road Rescue reportedly built the ambulance. And Spartan Chassis is reportedly involved with the components in the ambulance itself.

No one has reported technical information on the alleged software glitch itself. However, this rather brief adverse event report at FDA cites a date coincidentally close to April 22 (the date of the incident). Is the underlying technology an Evita 4 Ventilator? What role did software play in the incident? What other factors contributed?

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Do I really have that much mail?

Apple Mail. Oh no you don't. Interesting that ln(18446744073707454940)/ln(2)=64.