zafena development

February 9, 2009

Mecanics performing some handson debugging.

On my flight home from FOSDEM 09 i got some experience of howto debug an airplane. The airplane I was traveling in was accelerating up to flightspeed on the runway when it suddenly started to wiggle. The pilot responded by making a emergency halt just seconds before airborne. It turnedout that the pedals the pilot used to stear the plane in flight was faulty wired and made the airplane turn in the opposite direction to how the pilot manuvered the planes pedals (ouch, not good).

Im gratefull my airliner did not simply try the three R's of windows to solve the problem like what Joseph D. Darcy had experienced done by his airliner. Instead of retrying to make a new takeoff my airliner drove the airplane back to the airport and sent in a lot of mecanics to do some handson debugging. They quickly decided to make a new new airplane "build" based on the same crew, passengers and baggage in a new yet identical plane, they also did extended and rigerous regression testing to see that the pedals was wired correctly this time.

It seems airlines have adopted the use of pre flight regression tests to minimize the time spent of inflight debugging. Perhaps developers have more to learn from aviation best practise?

The word debugging have been used years before admiral Grace Hopper found the first famous computer bug stuck inside one of the Mark II Computer at Harvard University. Debugging actually orgins from the context of aviation, more specific from finding faults in airplane engines. So i guess to bugger is when one installs faults in airplane engine and to debug is when someone removes them, on second thought perhaps to debug are simply the task of swiping off all bugs that got trapped inside and gradually clogging up the engine after a normal flight.

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