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Is This How Complicated A 777 Is?

Thu Jan 24, 2002 11:12 pm

I read in the Boeing edition of Airliner world magazine, that a 777 has a staggering 2.6 MILLION lines of computer code written into its flight systems software, compared to "only" 400,000 in the 747-400. Its absolutely amazing this planes is  Wow!. You can even compare it to a space shuttle in terms of how complicated and advanced this machine is. We know how complicated A330/A340 are, but does anyone how it matches with the 777 if they are compared?

Would like to hear your opinions on this
Thanks

Regards
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LBA
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RE: Is This How Complicated A 777 Is?

Fri Jan 25, 2002 12:25 am

Thats fly-by-wire for you!
 
b0047
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RE: Is This How Complicated A 777 Is?

Fri Jan 25, 2002 12:32 am

I read somewhere that the early space shuttles had less processing power in them than a modern scientific calculator, but now that it's got the glass cockpit, you've got some serious sophistication in there!

Lines of code are not the only things that measure how complicated a plane's systems are... but yeah, i'm not surprised, considering all the electronic checklists and whats nots that the 777 has!

Nick
 
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nighthawk
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RE: Is This How Complicated A 777 Is?

Fri Jan 25, 2002 3:40 am

thats a lot of code, i just hope it wasnt written by microsoft or were all screwed! Thats what i would like to do when i graduate from univeristy: write the software for commercial planes.
 
PanAm747
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RE: Is This How Complicated A 777 Is?

Fri Jan 25, 2002 3:46 am

I read a magazine where a pilot was comparing the 777 to other planes.

He said when you start the engine on other planes you have to monitor fuel/oil temerature and pressure, and move about 20 levers.

But with the 777 all you do is flip the switch to ENGINE-ON, the computer code monitors all the temperatures and pressures.
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jhooper
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RE: Is This How Complicated A 777 Is?

Fri Jan 25, 2002 3:56 am

I heard the upgraded space shuttle computers are about as powerful as a 386. Hey, what works, works. It's pretty hard to "debug" 2.6 million lines of code; that's what scares me about fly-by-wire. Is this software vulnerable to common computer viruses? It seems plausable that a company mainframe properly infected with a computer virus could be transmitted to a plane's computer via ACARS.
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RE: Is This How Complicated A 777 Is?

Fri Jan 25, 2002 4:01 am

By comparison, each project Apollo spacecraft (command module, service module, LEM, and Saturn V launch vehicle) had less combined computing power than a normal pocket calculator.

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ntcrawler
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RE: Is This How Complicated A 777 Is?

Fri Jan 25, 2002 4:28 am

Just to put things in perspective, the Apollo guidance computer had 32K of total memory: 30K of ROM code, and 2K of core memory RAM.

The latest edition of the space shuttle has 5 IBM AP-101S computers, each with 256K of RAM (they are based on the IBM 360 architecture, developed in the mid 60's). For cockpit systems Atlantis's honeywell glass cockpit uses 386 processors, with 340 Mb hard drives for storage.

Pretty fun stuff.

-Arek, aka NtCrawler
 
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RE: Is This How Complicated A 777 Is?

Fri Jan 25, 2002 4:30 am

In other words, the B-777 makes the Shuttle look like a blender.  Big grin
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woodsboy
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RE: Is This How Complicated A 777 Is?

Fri Jan 25, 2002 4:42 am

20 levers to start an engine??? Not even on an old prop plane is it that complicated!

During my jumpseat experiences on Alaska Airlines, the 737-400 has a single switch to power up the engines, its pretty much automatic.

On the MD-80 there are two switches, one is like a "starter" and the other I believe injects fuel until the engine ignites fully, takes 10-15 seconds per engine.

On old airplanes w/a flight engineer position its a little more involved, but not much. The Engineer does have to monitor fuel and temp guages, but there arent by any means 20 levers to deal with!!
 
Beefmoney
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RE: Is This How Complicated A 777 Is?

Fri Jan 25, 2002 7:58 am

May I ask how the heck we got men on the moon using a computer that has less power than todays washing machines?
 
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VirginFlyer
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RE: Is This How Complicated A 777 Is?

Fri Jan 25, 2002 8:10 am

Beefmoney - despite what Bill Gates and Steve Jobs would want you to think, computers aren't the be all and end all of everything! Did Columbus have computers when he sailed that Atlantic? Did the DC-3 have computers?

V/F
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racko
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RE: Is This How Complicated A 777 Is?

Fri Jan 25, 2002 8:10 am

well woodsboy, of course there is only 1 switch to start a 734 engine, but you have to push/pull/turn many many switches before you can start the engine  Smile

I think a AI FBW plane should have more lines of code, because they have the different flight laws, the alpha protections, the autotrim etc.
 
geotrash
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RE: Is This How Complicated A 777 Is?

Fri Jan 25, 2002 8:26 am

2.5 million lines of code really isn't that much these days. Windows 2000 contains approximately 30 million lines of code, and that's just for the OS. Add Office 2000 and you're talking another 10 million, easy. In fact, way back in '93 Windows 3.1 contained 6.1 million lines. It is still likely more than any single coder could complete in a lifetime, but not staggering in the context of the desktop computer.

Your point about complexity is still very well taken. How many of us would feel safer with Windows 2000 running the navigational and flight control computers? Not me! I'm glad that stuff is custom code.
 
Bronko
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RE: Is This How Complicated A 777 Is?

Fri Jan 25, 2002 9:16 am

Thats the difference: Embedded software is made to do one thing, in this case, run an aircraft. Linux, Windows, etc is made to run applications, play games, email, compile code, etc.
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RE: Is This How Complicated A 777 Is?

Fri Jan 25, 2002 9:21 am

Does airbus use the same programming software as boeing or is it different?
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RE: Is This How Complicated A 777 Is?

Fri Jan 25, 2002 9:51 am

No, since no Boeing aircraft has ever shot repeated go-arounds while being held hostage by the FMC.  Big grin
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242
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RE: Is This How Complicated A 777 Is?

Fri Jan 25, 2002 1:52 pm

But with the 777 all you do is flip the switch to ENGINE-ON, the computer code monitors all the temperatures and pressures.<?i>


Yes, the auto-start on that aircraft is pretty amazing to watch. It's the only aircraft I know of that will automaticly abort an abnormal start. Other aircraft will allow you to melt the engine off the wing if you're inattentive enough. It's even capable of starting both engines at the same time, thanks to a healthy APU.


 
donder10
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RE: Is This How Complicated A 777 Is?

Fri Jan 25, 2002 2:19 pm

[email protected],
I have that magazine too and was amazed when I read what you read.By the way do you have the Airbus one too?
Alex
 
SailorOrion
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RE: Is This How Complicated A 777 Is?

Fri Jan 25, 2002 5:01 pm

Hey this a cool post for once ...
but people, would you please stop comparing the Space Shuttle to a 777 or even a desktop computer? If you put a Pentium IV / 2200 in orbit it would become non-operational within seconds because of 'unfriendly' environment, it produces way too much heat and eats up too much power.

SailorOrion
 
ryu2
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RE: Is This How Complicated A 777 Is?

Fri Jan 25, 2002 5:30 pm

Usually, the "cutting edge" stuff does not get put into a "mission critical" environment like the shuttle or 777.

They use proven and tried hardware. In addition, the software must be mathematically verified to be correct (think of proofs you did in high school math class, except now, it's for millions of lines of code) which is challenging enough by itself!
 
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skippy777
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RE: Is This How Complicated A 777 Is?

Fri Jan 25, 2002 5:35 pm

I think the 777 is the best airplane ever made.

a 777 captain said to me: "the power is so high that they even can take off on one engine, if they have too "

a 340 is very slow, but nice as well.
When a 340 takes off I wonder, does it take off or not.

That's why I like the 777.
 
eg777er
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RE: Is This How Complicated A 777 Is?

Fri Jan 25, 2002 9:28 pm

I think the passenger control units at the doors in the 777 (that control lights etc) run off a 286 ROM with DOS - can anyone verify this?
 
donder10
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RE: Is This How Complicated A 777 Is?

Fri Jan 25, 2002 9:30 pm

a 777 captain said to me: "the power is so high that they even can take off on one engine, if they have too "

all twins do!Even the 737-600's and 318's!
 
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RE: Donder10

Fri Jan 25, 2002 11:09 pm

Unfortunately, i somehow managed to miss the airbus edition in the airlier world specials  Sad Regret it now though, but the boeing edition was very interesting reading too. Anyway cool magazine though.

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XFSUgimpLB41X
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RE: Is This How Complicated A 777 Is?

Sat Jan 26, 2002 3:43 am

The Airbus's also have auto start sequences. Pretty much all new generation aircraft are equipped with that feature.

Starting two engines at once is quite a cool feature though.
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donder10
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[email protected]

Tue Jan 29, 2002 7:47 pm

[email protected],
I think the shop by the LHR spectators still has some copies left.It's a good magazine.
Alex
 
FDXmech
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RE: Is This How Complicated A 777 Is?

Tue Jan 29, 2002 9:00 pm

Most of those lines of code are for pax entertainment systems and other cabin systems, not the FBW.
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Salina Chan
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RE: Is This How Complicated A 777 Is?

Tue Jan 29, 2002 10:06 pm

not exactly on topic, but in case you need to confirm that running a FMC with windows is not a good idea see what win does to a very uncritical aviation application

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luvflng
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RE: Is This How Complicated A 777 Is?

Tue Jan 29, 2002 10:26 pm

There is a Profession called Software Engineering for Real Time and Mission Critical Systems that deal with this subject. (Or at least Embry Riddle has it)

You learn to deal with managing such a big project, more so planning it to the minute detail of predicting how many lines of code this project will involve. It is a precise prediction.

In any case, after a conceptual design is made, consisting of working models and objects being used, it goes through a model verification software that uncovers any annomalies that may be in the logic of the code. In fact there is a class at ERAU MSE 595 Model Verification of Software that deals with studying different models especially those flight systems or mission critical sysetms.

The code written is safe, and even if something failed there are redundancy systems that will take care of the rest.

luvflng
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cdfmxtech
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RE: Is This How Complicated A 777 Is?

Tue Jan 29, 2002 11:43 pm

There is a B777 flying out there with an "Intel Inside" sticker on the Foward Entry Door
 
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RE: Is This How Complicated A 777 Is?

Tue Jan 29, 2002 11:47 pm

Intel inside sticker? That sounds interesting
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Delta737
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RE: Is This How Complicated A 777 Is?

Wed Jan 30, 2002 1:12 am

The MD-90 will do an auto start abort.

Most aircraft, including the venerable 727 only requires two switches to start the engine.

Open the start valve, add fuel, voila!

Doug Taylor
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airbusluver
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RE: Is This How Complicated A 777 Is?

Wed Jan 30, 2002 11:35 am

To start a Boeing 767-300, assure that the aircraft is recieving power (battery and APU (or ground hook-up). Then cut-off a couple valves to get pressure in the engines, move the designator switch to Engine 1, and turn the knob. Definitley not 20 switches.

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