66

I'm a programmer and private pilot, so maybe I can help dispel some of those fears. The computers that run a commercial airplane are conceptually much simpler than the one that runs your phone. This means far less chance of a bug in the software, just because there's less for the programmer to keep track of. If your phone restarts, it doesn't imperil ...


24

Before we start, it's important to say that your concern is not irrational. If this were to happen, or if your plane's control systems were to otherwise malfunction in a dangerous manner, your life would genuinely be in danger. You aren't the first person to have thought of this, though. For this reason, we have a category of control systems we describe ...


10

Your concerns are reasonable and justified. A mid-air shutdown or reboot would be catastrophic to an airliner. Which is why, engineers designed the systems such that this scenario is practically impossible to happen. Electrical power An airliner has multiple electrical power source. Each jet engine has a built-in generator. When the turbine spins, ...


4

as somebody who did software tests on an unimportant (class D, will explain soon) system for an airplane to be approved to be landed on civilian airports: In airplane there is a strict hierarchy on what kind of software functions mean; they are listed in DO-178B. Class A systems are assumed to be "failure free"; they are extremely well tested. These ...


4

Occasionally a computer or smartphone will crash and reboot itself This can happen for two reasons: a software error or a hardware error. Both can cause the CPU to stop processing new instructions (i.e. a "hang") or to cause the machine to reboot itself. The latter is close to a hang, because the Operating System detects it cannot continue operating ...


2

As you can see, the supply chain is big (with filters and water separators at various points). The short answer is that standards and quality checks are followed. As for the jetliners, as far as I know they can't detect the fuel quality, but some can alert if issues arise in the fuel filters. The certification standards focus on engine restart capability ...


2

Ground effect only comes into play within about 1 wingspan’s height above a surface and it is largely unnoticeable until approx 1/4 to 1/10 of a wingspan above the surface. While it is true that ground effect greatly increases the lift to drag ratio of the wings, it does not reduce parasite drag nor does it account for the fact that it is more efficient to ...


1

As noted in the answer linked in comments, the practical limit for ground effect is about half the wingspan over a relatively flat, impermeable surface (you'll get better effect from smooth water than from heavy swell, for instance). Flying in ground effect for either economy (reducing power needed to fly) or in an emergency (engine out prevented climbing, ...


1

What height over a fixed plain can a plane begin to take advantage of the ground effect or when air is compressed between the wing and ground? It varies, but, generally speaking, ground effect usually becomes noticeable somewhere around half the plane's wingspan above the ground. So, for a plane with a 50-foot wingspan, ground effect would only be viable ...


1

Regarding power cycling specifically (as opposed to software-based failures in general which other answers have detailed very well), it's not a problem at all. Unlike a typical PC or smartphone which takes time to turn back on and can lose data when power is lost, the control systems on an airplane are typically designed such that they will resume complete ...


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