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A380 Debacle: It's The Software, Stupid!

Mon Oct 02, 2006 10:54 pm

Amidst all the cheering and jeering of recent A380 threads, it seems we are finally finding out the truth about the A380 debacle: it's not the customer's complicated specifications, and it's not the aluminum wiring, and it's not the French road network, to paraphrase the Clinton campaign slogan, it's the software, stupid!

In this thread:
RE: Its Official - Another A380 Delay (by Revelation Sep 23 2006 in Civil Aviation)

reply 135 by Pymgalion stated:

Quote:
Airbus had a new integration software package called ACE (Airbus Concurrent Engineering) to address the config integration issues that was supposed to be full up and in use on the A380. It didn't happen. Much like the 747-400 intro raised to a whole new order of magnitude, Airbus got bit hard by the integration flu. Now you see why Airbus is going back to an earlier aircraft for Certification proving flights. The later one has lost config control and will take too long to get conformed to the Singapore baseline. So Airbus is going back to an earlier airframe to certify and then they will cert changes from that base line.

In the thread:
New A380 Delivery Schedule Released 9/29 (by PanAm_DC10 Sep 28 2006 in Civil Aviation)

in reply 77, BoomBoom quotes Bloomberg:

Quote:
engineers in Germany and Spain stuck with an earlier version of Paris-based Dassault Systemes SA's Catia design software, even though the French and British offices had upgraded to Catia 5.

That meant the German teams couldn't add their design changes for the electrical wiring back into the common three- dimensional digital mockup being produced in Toulouse, Champion says. Efforts to fiddle with the software to make it compatible failed, meaning that changes to the designs in the two offices couldn't be managed and integrated in real time, he says.

The situation worsened when construction and tests of the first A380s generated demands for structural changes that would affect the wiring. The changes in configuration had to be made manually because the software tools couldn't talk to each other.

``What happened, apparently, is that there were several different design versions in use simultaneously,'' says Tecop's Weber, who says he was informed of the difficulties by contacts within Airbus's German design bureau. ``That was disastrous.''

Things are finally making sense to me. It didn't make sense to me that the same folks who have produced the whole Airbus family could not make the A380 wiring work. It does make perfect sense to me that they could not do so if the structures guys and the electrical guys are using two different versions of software that do not interoperate.

It also makes sense to me because we are finally hearing from Charles Champion. He was the wunderkind in the "Building the A380" documentary, then it seems he just disappeared when the last slip was announced, but now that he's lost his crown, he can start to talk a bit more openly about what went on. Quoting from Bloomberg:

Quote:
``Attempts to have common tools failed for various reasons,'' Champion says. ``It's all about legacy: When you start to use a tool, changing tools is an enormous investment. The question is always, what is the business case to change tools?''

This echos my comments in reply 159 of the delay thread:

Quote:
: Maybe the system wasn't ready in time. Maybe the thousands of employees that were supposed to use the system were not trained in time. Maybe budgets didn't allow for the cost of the software, the cost of the systems to run the software, or the cost of training the users. Maybe the schedule didn't allow time for all these things to happen. Maybe the system's performance or reliability did not scale up correctly as more users were added. Maybe the system's features were not sufficient. There's lots of ways to foul up an enterprise-wide IT project.

It's very difficult to roll out new systems in one big bang. It can be done, but if things aren't right, your whole enterprise can grind to a halt. Boeing learned this the hard way during the 737 production snafus of the '90s.

Large enterprise-wide projects like ACE are a b*tch. Corporations hate funding projects that are not tied directly to income-producing projects. They look too much like pure overhead, which of course must be kept to a minimum. Income-producing projects like A380 would love to benefit from something like ACE, but usually they don't want to fund them. Why should our project take the budget hit for something that will benefit other projects too? The squabbles over how much each project has to donate to the enterprise-wide initiative are endless. There's lots of temptation to just keep using the current systems. They don't add cost or training time, and they have a lot of inertia tied to them. After all, those old systems worked just fine in the past, right?

I am a software professional, so I'm very interested in how Airbus goes forward from here. This may be the most costly software debacle ever. I am not familiar with CATIA, so I'm wondering if others who are can chip in.

How incompatible is CATIA 5 with earlier versions? To put it into familiar terms, is it a small difference, kind of like going from Windows 2000 to Windows XP, or is it a big jump, more like going from Windows 95 to Windows 2000?

The Bloomberg article seems to imply it's a big jump, with a lot of training needed. Can anyone estimate how many hours per engineer is needed for training?

What is the recovery plan? I know it's simplistic, but can the Germans and Spaniards be brought up to CATIA 5 in a hurry? How can the program continue on if the structures guys and the electrical guys are using two different versions that do not interoperate? If you were JAA/FAA, would you certify a plane when it's so damn hard to be sure exactly what configuration the plane has? If they do not get onto the same version, will they stay with incompatible versions for the entire project?

My guess that Streiff is advocating taking the bullet in the head, getting this system integration effort over once and for all, and the EADS board is too shell shocked to buy into it, yet. But, to paraphrase Streiff, they need to become one Airbus, and they should get all the bad news out of the way right now. How else are they going to get their act together? I suspect Champion's whispering to the reporters is part of the plan to slowly let the ugly truth out. I almost wonder if that's why he was kept on, and also wonder now that he's run onto his sword, there's no more need for him.

Comments?
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Leskova
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RE: A380 Debacle: It's The Software, Stupid!

Mon Oct 02, 2006 10:56 pm

While the title is quite misleading, this thread is probably the one you might want to look at:
Airbus: English As A Second Language? (by SkepticAll Sep 29 2006 in Civil Aviation)
Smile - it confuses people!
 
zvezda
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RE: A380 Debacle: It's The Software, Stupid!

Mon Oct 02, 2006 10:59 pm

Quoting Revelation (Thread starter):
If you were JAA/FAA, would you certify a plane when it's so damn hard to be sure exactly what configuration the plane has?

I think Airbus will do what it takes to correctly document the configuration for certification. I have no idea how long that might take.
 
nautilusgr
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RE: A380 Debacle: It's The Software, Stupid!

Mon Oct 02, 2006 11:03 pm

Interesting post. Even though I do not agree in all your ideas, I admit that it is almost sure that software has taken many nights of Airbus engineers.

Quoting Revelation (Thread starter):
I am a software professional, so I'm very interested in how Airbus goes forward from here.

Since you are a software professional, you know the answer. They will work out the solutions. They always do. It will just take more time.

Quoting Revelation (Thread starter):
If you were JAA/FAA, would you certify a plane when it's so damn hard to be sure exactly what configuration the plane has?

Tha FAA has taken lots of decisions that would be criticised in the future. It won't be the first time.
 
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RE: A380 Debacle: It's The Software, Stupid!

Mon Oct 02, 2006 11:07 pm

I do large projects involving integration as well, and my experience tells me that virtually any action Airbus takes now amounts to closing the barn door after the horses have already scampered. We are literally talking about returning to the design phase on an aircraft that is supposed to be in service by now.

My distant understanding of the issues involved here is that Airbus have designed a wiring harness that is both physically uninstallable and electrically uncertifiable. Lacking a coordinated set of electrical and mechanical design tools, they are left to manipulating the installation by hand, and proving by trial and error. Even if they hit upon a working installation, documentation and replication will be difficult.

I am slowly coming around the Zvezda's point of view. Airbus may have botched this so badly that it is time to consider cutting their losses.  white 
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RE: A380 Debacle: It's The Software, Stupid!

Mon Oct 02, 2006 11:08 pm

This is a very interesting and plausible theory that adds to the explainations of the problems with the A-380 delivery delays.
There are many well documented problems with Software causing horrendous delays in products, production and services. Look at the history of Microsoft with delays in every O/S program, including the continuous delays as to the Vista O/S program. What is worse is that software problems are extremely difficult to resolve, as often if you make one change, then it might screw up 100 other parts of code.
As this involves the operation of aircraft, then it has to have absolute zero defects. Thus you have a problem that can get very big, very bad, very fast, and extremely difficult and time consuming to resolve.
 
nautilusgr
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RE: A380 Debacle: It's The Software, Stupid!

Mon Oct 02, 2006 11:21 pm

Quoting LTBEWR (Reply 5):

 checkmark 

Couldn't agree more.

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TeamAmerica
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RE: A380 Debacle: It's The Software, Stupid!

Mon Oct 02, 2006 11:22 pm

Quoting LTBEWR (Reply 5):
What is worse is that software problems are extremely difficult to resolve, as often if you make one change, then it might screw up 100 other parts of code.

I think you misunderstand. The problem lies with using different versions of the CATIA design tool. The team doing the electrical design was not able to properly integrate with the mechanical design. It is not the flight control software that is at issue, AFAIK.
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RE: A380 Debacle: It's The Software, Stupid!

Mon Oct 02, 2006 11:29 pm

In re-reading the Bloomberg article, I found:

Quote:
In a two-page memo to Airbus employees dated Sept. 11, Streiff, 52, highlighted software as a key challenge in fixing wiring problems that were ``even more complex than the company envisaged earlier.''

Airbus has begun putting in place ``electrical engineering IT tools'' common to the French and German teams and training the Hamburg engineers on them, he wrote in the memo obtained by Bloomberg News. ``Together, as `one Airbus,' we will overcome these challenges,'' he wrote.

It may take a full year to get engineers up to speed on the new software, says Phil Ness, who was manager of computer-aided- design and computer-aided-manufacturing technologies, known as CAD-CAM, at Boeing's military aerospace unit from 1980 to 1985, and a military program manager there until 1992.

So it seems the solution will be to retrain the Hamburg folk, get their designs input on the "electrical engineering IT tool" which presumably is CATIA 5, and move forward from there.

Quoting TeamAmerica (Reply 4):
We are literally talking about returning to the design phase on an aircraft that is supposed to be in service by now.

Well, they have a design that works, but they now have to input it into a new system and re-verify it. So I agree it is like going back to the design phase, but they already have a working design in hand, so it should mostly be a data input and verification exercise.

Quoting Zvezda (Reply 2):

I think Airbus will do what it takes to correctly document the configuration for certification. I have no idea how long that might take.

I suppose that might work for the first airframe or so, presuming they took very exacting notes about exactly what change was applied and when. God help them if a JAA/FAA inspector walks aboard and happens to find a wire out of place.

At some point they will have the new tools fully integrated and airframes should be under much better configuration control, but I wonder which airframe will be the first to be fully built using the new system. Also I wonder if you were the airline, if you'd want any of the earlier models. Seems like a maintenance nightmare to me: some bundles ripped out and replaced, others lengthened in place, etc.

As said above, the horses have left the barn. It's going to be a royal mess to straighten out.

Quoting Leskova (Reply 1):
While the title is quite misleading, this thread is probably the one you might want to look at:

Airbus: English As A Second Language? (by SkepticAll Sep 29 2006 in Civil Aviation)

Ok, I'll look at that one too.
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leelaw
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RE: A380 Debacle: It's The Software, Stupid!

Mon Oct 02, 2006 11:30 pm

Debacle? What debacle? As Mr. Mayrhuber (a.k.a. Sgt. Schultz  covereyes  ) of LH recently pointed-out, these are merely "teething" problems.  Wink
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osiris30
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RE: A380 Debacle: It's The Software, Stupid!

Mon Oct 02, 2006 11:36 pm

Quoting TeamAmerica (Reply 7):
I think you misunderstand. The problem lies with using different versions of the CATIA design tool. The team doing the electrical design was not able to properly integrate with the mechanical design. It is not the flight control software that is at issue, AFAIK.

With due respect Team America I think you miss the subtlties of the issue:

1) CATIA 4 and CATIA 5 do their business in radically different ways. Engineers need time to retrain to move to 5 from 4.

2) Airbus built a tool that was supposed to integrate the output from 4 into 5

3) The tool isn't ready (it's in house), so that means there's bugs. There cannot be bugs given the industry.

4) Airbus has two choices on this project: a)Redesign in 5 the wiring or b)fix the toolset in the middle.

Knowing that Airbus is desparate to get their 350s heading in some direction that is not full stop or backwards I doubt they have engineering time to redo the ALL the wiring from scratch. That only leaves 4b as a viable option, but without knowing how broken/incomplete ACE is...

And before anyone suggests that the engineers who did their work in v5 can redo the wiring while the other engineers who did their work v4 can work on the 350, see point #1. There would be no point at all in doing the 350 in v4 or you get bitten by #2,3.

Thus you have a very untennable situation.
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RE: A380 Debacle: It's The Software, Stupid!

Mon Oct 02, 2006 11:42 pm

Quoting TeamAmerica (Reply 4):
am slowly coming around the Zvezda's point of view. Airbus may have botched this so badly that it is time to consider

Oh my!
 
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RE: A380 Debacle: It's The Software, Stupid!

Mon Oct 02, 2006 11:57 pm

Quoting Revelation (Thread starter):
``It's all about legacy: When you start to use a tool, changing tools is an enormous investment. The question is always, what is the business case to change tools?''

That pretty well says it all. It's about money and being aggressive in investing in both hardware and software.

Back in the 80s I developed merchandising systems for a retail chain and faced the same problems. While it was a bit of a challenge to train the users (the merchants who never used a computer) I found that taking it step by step and using a lot of repetition solved that issue without a lot of problems. Getting the company to invest in the hardware, and moving from older systems was where the battle was. At times it was like the old medical saying, "the operation was a success, but the patient died."

For Airbus, the decision not to invest has come back on them rather hard. I doubt if too many execs there want to compare the costs they declined to meet with the current (and future) costs caused by the delay - especially now that they are going to be faced with those IT costs anyway.

The situation with the computer systems is now worse as the users are going to need to learn the new system while working on the current 380 problems. With other "custom versions" of the 380 for other airlines waiting for their attention they can't go through the current "challenges" for each series of planes. Throw in the need for everyone to be on the same system BEFORE starting the 350 and the need is even more apparent.
 
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RE: A380 Debacle: It's The Software, Stupid!

Mon Oct 02, 2006 11:59 pm

Quoting Nautilusgr (Reply 3):
Since you are a software professional, you know the answer. They will work out the solutions. They always do. It will just take more time.

Large projects can fail because of software, though this would be the daddy of them all. So it's not a given that the software middleware can be made to work to the extent that it will need to. I'm an old software hack as well. See next comment.

Quoting Revelation (Thread starter):
My guess that Streiff is advocating taking the bullet in the head, getting this system integration effort over once and for all, and the EADS board is too shell shocked to buy into it, yet. But, to paraphrase Streiff, they need to become one Airbus, and they should get all the bad news out of the way right now. How else are they going to get their act together?

I think the evidence is mounting up for this. Airbus does not have a contemporary system now, and there may not be a way to get to where they need to go to keep up with Boeing without a REAL fix - which is enterprise wide integration with the latest CATIA tool. Every day they spend in this A380 middleware/duct tape/baling wire fix is another day of delay to the A350 project - that's becuase the duct tape solution is not good enough to build a competitive product. More time down the drain. Now the talk of radical cost cutting starts to make sense - more than just the A380 damage in and of itself. A now has to cover A380 damage and major reengineering of the design process - both at the same time and expedited. The good news for A is that Streiff seems determined to make the company take its medicine.

JLP
 
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RE: A380 Debacle: It's The Software, Stupid!

Tue Oct 03, 2006 12:02 am

Quoting Osiris30 (Reply 10):
1) CATIA 4 and CATIA 5 do their business in radically different ways. Engineers need time to retrain to move to 5 from 4.

Seems it's like it's moving from a 2D world with limited 3D support, to moving into a full 3D world. So, it's kind of like moving from MS-DOS to Windows XP!  Smile

Quoting Osiris30 (Reply 10):
2) Airbus built a tool that was supposed to integrate the output from 4 into 5

3) The tool isn't ready (it's in house), so that means there's bugs. There cannot be bugs given the industry.

4) Airbus has two choices on this project: a)Redesign in 5 the wiring or b)fix the toolset in the middle.

Streiff's statements are not helping me figure this out. When he talks about the "electrical engineering IT tool" it makes me think he may be talking about 4(b), but when he talks about "one Airbus" it makes me think he may be talking about 4(a).

Pygmalion's post above says in the absence of the tool mentioned in (2) above, they are integrating the two versions manually. Yuck! Now you can easily see how when the flight tests require changes to the structure, then the CATIA 5 is updated, and if interferences result, the CATIA 4 has to be updated, then the manual work has to be redone. Yuck again!
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787engineer
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RE: A380 Debacle: It's The Software, Stupid!

Tue Oct 03, 2006 12:02 am

Quoting Revelation (Thread starter):

How incompatible is CATIA 5 with earlier versions? To put it into familiar terms, is it a small difference, kind of like going from Windows 2000 to Windows XP, or is it a big jump, more like going from Windows 95 to Windows 2000?

CATIA v5 and CATIA v4 are two very different animals. It's more like going from Windows 3.1 to Windows XP. Sure XP could probably use MS Word 2003 to read the Microsoft Works document from Windows 3.1 but some of it may be lost in "translation", and of course Works will likely be able to read very little of a MS Word 2003 document. There are some programs out there that you can send the CATIA v5 document to to make it "more readable" by v4, but in any case you're losing quite a bit of data. I don't consider myself an "expert" in CATIA v5, but I use it occasionally and have seen v4 models in v5, and frankly, it's a mess/pain in the butt.

Quoting Revelation (Thread starter):

What is the recovery plan? I know it's simplistic, but can the Germans and Spaniards be brought up to CATIA 5 in a hurry? How can the program continue on if the structures guys and the electrical guys are using two different versions that do not interoperate? If you were JAA/FAA, would you certify a plane when it's so damn hard to be sure exactly what configuration the plane has? If they do not get onto the same version, will they stay with incompatible versions for the entire project?

Not that easy. . . Designing in CATIA v5 is different than designing in V4. . .it really requires a different mindset. There are many things you don't have to consider when designing in v5 that were very important in v4, and there are a some things that you have to keep in mind when using in v5 that doesn't come up when using v4. Training is necessary, but most designers need some time to get accustomed to using v5. Some stubborn ones never completely get/accept CATIA v5  Sad. At this point in the program, Airbus just needs to get the A380 finished and certified. That means bringing in the foremost experts they have in each area to properly re-design the necessary parts whether they be in v4 or v5. Find a way (most likely a new program) to make sure everything is "integrated" properly, and hope they're able to prove repeatibility, and configuration control in production to get the plane certified.

A question for any Airbus designers out there. . . are you guys using ENOVIA in conjunction with CATIA to manage the configuration? And is ENOVIA as big of a pain for you guys as it is for us?  Wink
 
TeamAmerica
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RE: A380 Debacle: It's The Software, Stupid!

Tue Oct 03, 2006 12:03 am

Quoting Revelation (Reply 8):
Well, they have a design that works

I'm not sure that they have a complete working design at all.

Quoting Osiris30 (Reply 10):
With due respect Team America I think you miss the subtlties of the issue

There is no subtlety here. Incompatible versions of the design software were used, which is a fundamental mistake. The issue is not fixing the design conversion tool, it's that it should never have been considered in the first place. Airbus needs to focus on getting the design right and should never have been using "in house" software like that. The results speak for themselves.

With due respect, all efforts to fix a tool that should not have been used in the first place is just more wasted time. The engineers will need to work in CATIA v5 to get A350 underway, so they might as well get started on it right now. Do it right, or don't do it at all.
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RE: A380 Debacle: It's The Software, Stupid!

Tue Oct 03, 2006 12:06 am

Quoting Leelaw (Reply 9):
Debacle? What debacle? As Mr. Mayrhuber (a.k.a. Sgt. Schultz covereyes ) of LH recently pointed-out, these are merely "teething" problems.

With the last delay costing 2.5B, and the current one being estimated at 1B or more, and the knock-on effects being estimated at more than 4B, I think the term "debacle" is pretty mild!  Smile
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osiris30
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RE: A380 Debacle: It's The Software, Stupid!

Tue Oct 03, 2006 12:06 am

Quoting Revelation (Reply 14):
Streiff's statements are not helping me figure this out. When he talks about the "electrical engineering IT tool" it makes me think he may be talking about 4(b), but when he talks about "one Airbus" it makes me think he may be talking about 4(a).

Well in addition to stock CATIA if it's like 99% of engineering packages, you can build custom add-in modules as well. So Streiff may be referring to a customer module created to help with electrical routing or tagging. Hard to say without working at Airbus.

Quoting Revelation (Reply 14):
Pygmalion's post above says in the absence of the tool mentioned in (2) above, they are integrating the two versions manually. Yuck! Now you can easily see how when the flight tests require changes to the structure, then the CATIA 5 is updated, and if interferences result, the CATIA 4 has to be updated, then the manual work has to be redone. Yuck again!

My *much* bigger concern is error rate of the current solution. Let's say they make one mistake in a million... do you know how many connections there are in however many miles of wire are in that plane. And 24v supply current is more than enough to cause a fire. Sorry but I won't ever fly a low-serial# 380.
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RE: A380 Debacle: It's The Software, Stupid!

Tue Oct 03, 2006 12:15 am

Quoting 787engineer (Reply 15):
That means bringing in the foremost experts they have in each area to properly re-design the necessary parts whether they be in v4 or v5. Find a way (most likely a new program) to make sure everything is "integrated" properly, and hope they're able to prove repeatibility, and configuration control in production to get the plane certified.

I think this problem has been known in-house at Airbus for quite a while, and they've been trying to do exactly what you suggest, but the scope of the work is so huge that they cannot cope.

Keep in mind Leahy sold the plane by telling each customer they could have a very unique cabin, and it seems SQ, EK, QF, et al have taken him up on this offer. Thus there are a lot more "parts" to be designed, and if there is a lot of manual work involved and experts needed, it just doesn't scale well at all.

Speaking of Leahy, what's his opinion on all this? He's never been shy on sharing his opinions in the past. Maybe we'll have to wait till after he moves on (whenever that may be) to get his real opinion.
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IFEMaster
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RE: A380 Debacle: It's The Software, Stupid!

Tue Oct 03, 2006 12:27 am

Quoting Revelation (Reply 17):
With the last delay costing 2.5B, and the current one being estimated at 1B or more, and the knock-on effects being estimated at more than 4B, I think the term "debacle" is pretty mild!

I agree. This basically amounts to a complete lack of planning and forethought by the powers that be, and was a decision that was likely made in the face of a short-term business justification rather than a long-term plan. These kind of 'oversights' are entirely inexcusable when you're dealing with multi-billion dollar budgets.

I am big Airbus fan, and I would love to see the A380 enter service as soon as possible, but Airbus simply can't afford to be making these mistakes. My fear is that the A380 may be a project that sinks Airbus. I hope not. I hope that we don't have a thread on here someday titled "Airbus Legacy: A380 - So Near Yet So Far."
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sphealey
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RE: A380 Debacle: It's The Software, Stupid!

Tue Oct 03, 2006 12:34 am

> It's more like going from Windows 3.1 to
> Windows XP.

Just a caution here: complex business-critical software tools are nothing like operating systems, and one's individual or even corporate experience with operating system upgrades does not scale to understanding the complexities of true toolset software nor the problems that arise from upgrading and/or integrating it.

An organzation can (and I have) jack up an operating system (in our case, Wang CLI), replace it overnight (in our case, Windows GUI), and have 70% of full productivity back in 3 days, 90% in 3 weeks. In some cases I have seen end users who use only basic desktop tools essentially not even notice a change from a Windows/Internet Explorer/Office desktop to a Linux/OpenOffice/Firefox desktop; they just squinted, said "why are the icons funny?", and started working.

Not so with complex toolset software. In that case you would be lucky to get back to full productivity in 3 _years_. It takes a long time to understand and then develop fluency with a tool like Caida, and /then/ you have to start re-designing your business processes to accomodate (and, one hopes, make more efficient use) of it.

If you want a comparision, it would be like taking the late Tage Frid, one of the world's leading experts on woodworking with hand tools, into your high volume furniture production shop and asking him to get a job done. The man was a genius with wood and tools, and there is no doubt that with enough time he could have figured out how to use high-volume machine tools very produtively (not that he wanted to) , but it wouldn't be something that happened in days or even years.

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RE: A380 Debacle: It's The Software, Stupid!

Tue Oct 03, 2006 12:39 am

Not to put too fine a point on it but we built a full scale mockup of the MD11, the C17 and the MD80 series aircraft in the Douglas plant that were used to develop hardware and try out different ideas, including wiring bundles and suchlike.

Time consuming? Yes.
Old fashioned? Like nothing I've ever seen.
Expensive? Decidedly so.

Were there computer aided drafting systems in place at the time? Yes. Boeing broke ground on them with the 777. We did a lot of digitizing when the assembly was created and mapped. But there was always the DF to try stuff out on and identify and rectify problems as they emerged. There were also some damned good engineers shipside at all times with authority to develop fixes and EOs on a running basis.

....we were able to sort out a lot of the problems of the 'no fit-no place for it to go' type long before they got as out of hand as this steaming pile has become. Maybe if Airbus had bought Douglas they could have learned something worthwhile.





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RE: A380 Debacle: It's The Software, Stupid!

Tue Oct 03, 2006 12:43 am

> Not to put too fine a point on it but we built a full
> scale mockup of the MD11, the C17 and the MD80
> series aircraft in the Douglas plant that were used to
> develop hardware and try out different ideas, including
> wiring bundles and suchlike.
>
> Time consuming? Yes.
> Old fashioned? Like nothing I've ever seen.
> Expensive? Decidedly so.
>
> Were there computer aided drafting systems in
> place at the time? Yes.

The idea that computer software in and of itself does work / fixes problems, rather than informed and knowledgable human beings using appropriate tools for appropriate tasks, generates incredible disasters IMHO.

sPh
 
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RE: A380 Debacle: It's The Software, Stupid!

Tue Oct 03, 2006 12:51 am

Quoting Dougloid (Reply 22):
Not to put too fine a point on it but we built a full scale mockup of the MD11, the C17 and the MD80 series aircraft in the Douglas plant that were used to develop hardware and try out different ideas, including wiring bundles and suchlike.

Right with you on this, Dougloid. A good old fashioned iron bird can be invaluable to test circuit routing, signal cross-talk and the like. Somewhere in our efforts to cut cost we lost sight of best practices and common sense. An iron bird may be expensive, but how expensive is this A380 debacle in the end? Would've been cheap in comparison.

Mind you, the iron bird would not have prevented the problem with wires being cut too short or bundles being too big to pass through ports, if these rumors are true.
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RE: A380 Debacle: It's The Software, Stupid!

Tue Oct 03, 2006 12:58 am

Quoting Sphealey (Reply 23):
The idea that computer software in and of itself does work / fixes problems, rather than informed and knowledgable human beings using appropriate tools for appropriate tasks, generates incredible disasters IMHO.



Quoting TeamAmerica (Reply 24):
Right with you on this, Dougloid. A good old fashioned iron bird can be invaluable to test circuit routing, signal cross-talk and the like. Somewhere in our efforts to cut cost we lost sight of best practices and common sense. An iron bird may be expensive, but how expensive is this A380 debacle in the end? Would've been cheap in comparison.

Mind you, the iron bird would not have prevented the problem with wires being cut too short or bundles being too big to pass through ports, if these rumors are true.

Well, Boeing didn't exactly need one with the 777. Their prototype is flying as a production aircraft for Cathay Pacific; It clearly was wired properly. The only wiring that got changed was the engine wiring, and the fact that the testing instrumentation wiring was removed.
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RE: A380 Debacle: It's The Software, Stupid!

Tue Oct 03, 2006 1:36 am

This is my assesment from another thread. Bottom line, A is in deep trouble, but they'll survive and emerge a stronger company. But this is old news.

Quoting myself from Leelaws' thread:

https://www.airliners.net/discussions...general_aviation/read.main/3012812

The most interesting part about the Bloomberg article states that different departments in A were using different "final" designs.

Now, after designs had been finalized, supplier manufactured parts began arriving and there were integration problems as different pieces didn't fit. I now think the Al wiring was a smoke screen, Al wiring lenght from point A to point B does not differ from Cu. It was airframe structural differences designed from different versions of the "final" design.

In summary, from the Bloomberg and other published articles, using the USAF EEFI (Essential Elements of Friendly Information) analysis method (a method of analysis using different unclassified sources to get a good idea of the classified parts), these are my best estimations of Airbus at the present. People that have worked classified projects or held security clearances are aware of this indirect method of peering inside a classified project from the outside.

1. A does not have a system in place to design the A350XWB. (Expect a 2 year EIS delay from what has been announced.)

2. A is kluging (ok, hand fitting) A380 airframes together from parts that do not fit, from airframe sections to wiring harnesses. This is why A has reduced the production schedule to a possible 4 frames per year. They can not afford to stop production at this point and scrap what has been produced until proper fitting components hit the supply chain.

3. A is working 25 hours a day to generate the final design to correct the errors generated from multiple designs.

4. Properly fitting components will not begin arriving for a minimum of one year, as they are now being designed again, a true "final" design. Suppliers and A have yet to receive the new, all new "final" specs.

5. There are a lot of French guys making big overtime bucks integrating standardized CAD software across different A offices.

6. The "100 day deadline" has passed without comment. A may still not know exactly what exactly needs to be redesigned.

There were a few respnses and corrections to this post, such as to "6". But please feel free to post any comments. If I violated a rule for quating myself, apologies.
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Dougloid
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RE: A380 Debacle: It's The Software, Stupid!

Tue Oct 03, 2006 1:55 am

Quoting N328KF (Reply 25):
Well, Boeing didn't exactly need one with the 777. Their prototype is flying as a production aircraft for Cathay Pacific; It clearly was wired properly. The only wiring that got changed was the engine wiring, and the fact that the testing instrumentation wiring was removed.

I believe I mentioned the 777. Boeing did it right. Airbus clearly dropped the ball here in a big way.

The development fixture was an old idea but it certainly had its uses, particularly when you consider how much this has to be costing Airbus.


As a point of information, hard facts as to what actually has gone on are kind of thin...I'd like to hear it from some of the worker bees.
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RE: A380 Debacle: It's The Software, Stupid!

Tue Oct 03, 2006 3:09 am

Quoting N328KF (Reply 25):
Well, Boeing didn't exactly need one with the 777.

Sorry, but you are wrong. Boeing DID build an "Iron Bird" for 777. See: http://www.cds.caltech.edu/conferenc...cs/tutorial/Examples/Cases/777.htm

Quote:
"While the Boeing 777 experience is exciting for the VE enterprise, we should recognize just how limited the existing CAD tools are. They deal only with static solid modeling and static interconnection, and not—or at least not systematically—with dynamics, nonlinearities, or heterogeneity. The virtual parts in the CATIA system are simply 3D solids with no dynamics and none of the dynamic attributes of the physical parts. For example, all the electronics and hydraulics had to be separately simulated, and while these too benefited from CAD tools, they are not integrated with the 3D solid modeling tools. A complete working physical prototype of the internal dynamics of the vehicle was still constructed, a so-called “iron-bird” including essentially everything in the full 777."

It's an excellent article, well worth a complete read.  airplane 
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RE: A380 Debacle: It's The Software, Stupid!

Tue Oct 03, 2006 3:21 am

Quoting N328KF (Reply 25):
Well, Boeing didn't exactly need one with the 777. Their prototype is flying as a production aircraft for Cathay Pacific; It clearly was wired properly. The only wiring that got changed was the engine wiring, and the fact that the testing instrumentation wiring was removed.

That's an interesting case. Boeing and UA negotiated for years over the B777 prototype. UA wanted a substantial discount and Boeing wanted something close to normal (obviously, I don't mean list) price. I don't have any idea what CX paid for it. Nice to see it flying.
 
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RE: A380 Debacle: It's The Software, Stupid!

Tue Oct 03, 2006 3:45 am

Quoting TeamAmerica (Reply 28):
Quoting N328KF (Reply 25):
Well, Boeing didn't exactly need one with the 777.

Sorry, but you are wrong. Boeing DID build an "Iron Bird" for 777. See: http://www.cds.caltech.edu/conferenc...cs/tutorial/Examples/Cases/777.htm

Quote:
"While the Boeing 777 experience is exciting for the VE enterprise, we should recognize just how limited the existing CAD tools are. They deal only with static solid modeling and static interconnection, and not—or at least not systematically—with dynamics, nonlinearities, or heterogeneity. The virtual parts in the CATIA system are simply 3D solids with no dynamics and none of the dynamic attributes of the physical parts. For example, all the electronics and hydraulics had to be separately simulated, and while these too benefited from CAD tools, they are not integrated with the 3D solid modeling tools. A complete working physical prototype of the internal dynamics of the vehicle was still constructed, a so-called “iron-bird” including essentially everything in the full 777."

It's an excellent article, well worth a complete read. airplane

I think it was a complete mockup of the 777 that wan't built, as it was done digitally.

The iron bird was used for integrating the 777 onboard systems. I did several walk thrus of the iron bird in the early 90's, and Boeing barred no expense in getting it right the first time through. The electrical power was from actual airplane generators, and even the wiring between the systems, was production.
 
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RE: A380 Debacle: It's The Software, Stupid!

Tue Oct 03, 2006 3:48 am

Quoting AirSpare (Reply 26):
The "100 day deadline" has passed without comment.

No it hasn't. Search on other threads discussing this issue.

I get the feeling that some of the IT professionals in this thread might just be getting a little carried away with themselves - jumping from one assumption to the next until - hey - the *whole* 380 design is a bag of rusty binary bits which should be sent to /dev/null

I don't think this is the case. I think this speculation is interesting, but veering away from reality.

One interesting thing, which might be unrelated, is that many of the engineers I've talked to in A seemed well conversant with both versions of CATIA. I have no idea if this is a general thing. I know that for OSes and some other drawing packages, it's pretty common to know how to use a range of versions etc. Is this the case for CATIA?
 
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RE: A380 Debacle: It's The Software, Stupid!

Tue Oct 03, 2006 3:53 am

I read somwhere that Hamilton Sundstrand, the lead electrical contractor for the 787, is making a complete electrical mockup for the 787 and it is in place already. I think it was a statement from Mike Baird.

JLP
 
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RE: A380 Debacle: It's The Software, Stupid!

Tue Oct 03, 2006 3:53 am

Quoting HB88 (Reply 31):
jumping from one assumption to the next until - hey - the *whole* 380 design is a bag of rusty binary bits which should be sent to /dev/null

Rusty bits?!?!? Damn man and I thought I never got any ROFLMAO!!

Quoting HB88 (Reply 31):
One interesting thing, which might be unrelated, is that many of the engineers I've talked to in A seemed well conversant with both versions of CATIA. I have no idea if this is a general thing. I know that for OSes and some other drawing packages, it's pretty common to know how to use a range of versions etc. Is this the case for CATIA?

Based on experience, working knowledge is easy, intimate knowledge that you need for a truly complex problem is usually something entirely different. And you need a certain # of the intimate knowledge folks to make it all work in the end.
I don't care what you think of my opinion. It's my opinion, so have a nice day :)
 
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RE: A380 Debacle: It's The Software, Stupid!

Tue Oct 03, 2006 3:55 am

Quoting Justloveplanes (Reply 32):
read somwhere that Hamilton Sundstrand, the lead electrical contractor for the 787, is making a complete electrical mockup for the 787 and it is in place already. I think it was a statement from Mike Baird.

I'm guessing that Boeing is learning deeply from the A380 debacle.

P.S. It's "Mike Bair."
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TeamAmerica
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RE: A380 Debacle: It's The Software, Stupid!

Tue Oct 03, 2006 3:57 am

Quoting Shenzhen (Reply 30):
I think it was a complete mockup of the 777 that wan't built, as it was done digitally

Yes, there seems to be confusion over terminology:

A mockup is a facsimile of an aircraft, almost entirely non-functional and generally created as a sales tool to allow customers to walk through. This is still done.

An iron bird is a fixture where aircraft systems are assembled in a generally accurate arrangement to verify and refine function. Not done for A380, and I believe not being done for B787 either (I could be wrong).

A prototype is a complete flyable aircraft, used to test the entire design. Most military aircraft still go thru a prototype phase, but this has been dropped from commercial aircraft development due to cost.
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Shenzhen
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RE: A380 Debacle: It's The Software, Stupid!

Tue Oct 03, 2006 4:04 am

Quoting TeamAmerica (Reply 35):
A mockup is a facsimile of an aircraft, almost entirely non-functional and generally created as a sales tool to allow customers to walk through. This is still done.

I think you have caught one type of mockup, but left out the one that was used to ensure fit and function.

Cheers
 
hb88
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RE: A380 Debacle: It's The Software, Stupid!

Tue Oct 03, 2006 4:07 am

Quoting Osiris30 (Reply 33):
Quoting HB88 (Reply 31):
"One interesting thing, which might be unrelated, is that many of the engineers I've talked to in A seemed well conversant with both versions of CATIA. I have no idea if this is a general thing. I know that for OSes and some other drawing packages, it's pretty common to know how to use a range of versions etc. Is this the case for CATIA?"

Based on experience, working knowledge is easy, intimate knowledge that you need for a truly complex problem is usually something entirely different. And you need a certain # of the intimate knowledge folks to make it all work in the end.

I guess you're right. But then again, I'm a reformed unix geek and when I wasn't doing things I shouldn't have been doing in my previous life, I was usually playing with the neatest tools I could steal^H^H^H^H get my hands on. I think some engineers aren't too different. But when it comes to getting Real Work done, I'm sure your correct.

Anyway, I think the problem is more confined that it is widely speculated on a.net. There are other areas which would be theoretically vulnerable to similar issues if one assumed all the reasoning in this thread was correct, but there haven't been any problems in those domains.

Personally, I think it's the company-wide prohibition on upgrading to Win95.
 
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RE: A380 Debacle: It's The Software, Stupid!

Tue Oct 03, 2006 4:14 am

Quoting HB88 (Reply 31):
I get the feeling that some of the IT professionals in this thread might just be getting a little carried away with themselves - jumping from one assumption to the next until - hey - the *whole* 380 design is a bag of rusty binary bits which should be sent to /dev/null

I don't think this is the case. I think this speculation is interesting, but veering away from reality.

Well, feel free to bring us back to reality. I think Osiris30's reply 10 above is the best model for what is going on, and what Airbus can do to fix it. I'd welcome your comments.
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deltadc9
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RE: A380 Debacle: It's The Software, Stupid!

Tue Oct 03, 2006 4:17 am

Quoting Nautilusgr (Reply 3):
Since you are a software professional, you know the answer. They will work out the solutions. They always do. It will just take more time.

Not true. 25% of all software projects fail completely. Integration projects included.

Quoting TeamAmerica (Reply 7):
The problem lies with using different versions of the CATIA design tool. The team doing the electrical design was not able to properly integrate with the mechanical design. It is not the flight control software that is at issue, AFAIK.

This is a risk management failure of epic proportions. Again another finger pointing to amateurish overconfident project management.

Quoting Osiris30 (Reply 10):
There cannot be bugs given the industry.

Not true, there is no such thing as bug free or design flaw free complex software, never will be. It is a scientific and statistical impossibility. Even critical heath care device embedded software has bugs and design flaws.

Even God created software bugs in us. How else could anyone find Sarah Jessica Parker attractive?

Quoting Justloveplanes (Reply 13):
though this would be the daddy of them all.

Not even close.
Dont take life too seriously because you will never get out of it alive - Bugs Bunny
 
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RE: A380 Debacle: It's The Software, Stupid!

Tue Oct 03, 2006 4:25 am

Quoting DeltaDC9 (Reply 39):
Not even close.

Well, this one seems to be 2.5 - 3.5B in direct costs, and the potential for 4.5 B in knock-on costs. What other ones do you know of with a bigger impact?
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AirSpare
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RE: A380 Debacle: It's The Software, Stupid!

Tue Oct 03, 2006 4:28 am

Quoting HB88 (Reply 31):
No it hasn't. Search on other threads discussing this issue.

Yes you are right, as I noted on this thread, I was corrected on the original post on #6.

Quoting HB88 (Reply 31):
I get the feeling that some of the IT professionals in this thread might just be getting a little carried away with themselves - jumping from one assumption to the next until - hey - the *whole* 380 design is a bag of rusty binary bits which should be sent to /dev/null

HB88, the part that is most worrisome from the Bloomberg article was that different A units were using different "final" designs. If that is the case, there may be more issues then has been published, and A may have to inventory different phases of the design. I aplogize to you and A if my 1-6 possible scenario is way off base, but...

I guess your in box was empty this morning?  Smile

Best regards~md
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Shenzhen
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RE: A380 Debacle: It's The Software, Stupid!

Tue Oct 03, 2006 4:30 am

Quoting DeltaDC9 (Reply 39):

Even God created software bugs in us. How else could anyone find Sarah Jessica Parker attractive?

Give it 10 to 15 years. She gets prettier every year (every year I get older, not her)

[Edited 2006-10-02 21:36:57]
 
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RE: A380 Debacle: It's The Software, Stupid!

Tue Oct 03, 2006 4:30 am

Quoting Revelation (Reply 40):
Well, this one seems to be 2.5 - 3.5B in direct costs, and the potential for 4.5 B in knock-on costs. What other ones do you know of with a bigger impact?

Well, some of the projects in the IT world might fall under this category. Microsoft's Xbox has had billions poured into it, for little return thus far. That one at least has had some market pentration. Intel's Itanium is another one. Over ten BILLION dollars only to have its ass handed to it on both the low end (AMD Opteron) and high end (POWER5).

Actually, Itanium (nicknamed "Itanic" in the IT world) cost way more than $10bil. In January, Intel and HP decided to spend another $10bil on it.1 This is on top of whatever Intel and HP have spent so far, which is at least ten billion to date.

[Edited 2006-10-02 21:38:24]
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hb88
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RE: A380 Debacle: It's The Software, Stupid!

Tue Oct 03, 2006 4:30 am

Quoting Revelation (Reply 38):
Well, feel free to bring us back to reality. I think Osiris30's reply 10 above is the best model for what is going on, and what Airbus can do to fix it. I'd welcome your comments.

I actually agree with Osiris30's post. My comment is that in terms of the specific technical area of the A380 project, the problems are more confined than some above are speculating. The IFE and cabin systems wiring harnesses are one part of the aircraft systems. Somehow, this has been extrapolated into all 380 wiring and airframe structure throughout the aircraft and in fact the ability of Airbus to make aircraft in general.

For example:

Quoting AirSpare (Reply 26):
1. A does not have a system in place to design the A350XWB. (Expect a 2 year EIS delay from what has been announced.)

Airbus cannot design the A350XWB? Better tell all the people in Airbus who are doing precisely that (in full knowledge of the 380 issues mind you).

Quoting AirSpare (Reply 26):
2. A is kluging (ok, hand fitting) A380 airframes together from parts that do not fit, from airframe sections to wiring harnesses. This is why A has reduced the production schedule to a possible 4 frames per year. They can not afford to stop production at this point and scrap what has been produced until proper fitting components hit the supply chain.

Airframe sections being kluged together from parts that do not fit? Where did this gem come from? Rubbish. If you look carefully at the explanation given, I think AirSpare is confusing that the wiring routing/modelling tool required structural changes to allow the configured routing. This is a symptom of the harness issue and has nothing to do with not designing parts that fit.

Quoting AirSpare (Reply 26):
3. A is working 25 hours a day to generate the final design to correct the errors generated from multiple designs.

Correct, there's lots of midnight oil being burnt atm.

Quoting AirSpare (Reply 26):
4. Properly fitting components will not begin arriving for a minimum of one year, as they are now being designed again, a true "final" design. Suppliers and A have yet to receive the new, all new "final" specs.

See above under item 2.

This is a pretty good example of a wild veer if you ask me.  Smile
 
TeamAmerica
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RE: A380 Debacle: It's The Software, Stupid!

Tue Oct 03, 2006 4:33 am

Quoting TeamAmerica (Reply 35):
Not done for A380, and I believe not being done for B787 either (I could be wrong).

I think I am at least partially wrong on both counts. There was an iron bird for A380, but I'm not sure what systems were integrated on it. Same for 787; I'm not sure of the extent. Hopefully some A.Netters can clarify this, as I can't get any links off of Google to open at all...
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osiris30
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RE: A380 Debacle: It's The Software, Stupid!

Tue Oct 03, 2006 4:44 am

Quoting DeltaDC9 (Reply 39):
Not true, there is no such thing as bug free or design flaw free complex software, never will be. It is a scientific and statistical impossibility. Even critical heath care device embedded software has bugs and design flaws.

Yes I know.. it doesn't change the design goal of 0 bugs.. my statement was more along the lines of: that stuff is held to a much higher standard than say Windows XP. As a result of the higher standard it takes longer to make changes and get them approved and into production.

Steve
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hb88
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RE: A380 Debacle: It's The Software, Stupid!

Tue Oct 03, 2006 4:47 am

Quoting AirSpare (Reply 41):
Quoting HB88 (Reply 31):
"I get the feeling that some of the IT professionals in this thread might just be getting a little carried away with themselves - jumping from one assumption to the next until - hey - the *whole* 380 design is a bag of rusty binary bits which should be sent to /dev/null"

HB88, the part that is most worrisome from the Bloomberg article was that different A units were using different "final" designs. If that is the case, there may be more issues then has been published, and A may have to inventory different phases of the design. I aplogize to you and A if my 1-6 possible scenario is way off base, but...

I believe the different units were referring to the harness routing configurations. Not stuctural designs. I think you're 1-6 is pretty off-base, and apologies for slamming your post in my earlier one, but I did think it was a little chicken-little.

Quoting AirSpare (Reply 41):
I guess your in box was empty this morning?

Oh man. If only... work work and more work. But nothing which which looked too obviously like the death of Airbus as we know it. Sorry to disappoint.
 
AirSpare
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RE: A380 Debacle: It's The Software, Stupid!

Tue Oct 03, 2006 4:53 am

Quoting HB88 (Reply 44):
This is a pretty good example of a wild veer if you ask me.

It definitly was not a veer, but posible due to the lack of, and conflicting info we are getting from A.

I sit corrected and as I stated, this was a possible worse case analysis from the Bloomberg article and other less dependable press releases.

HB88-Always with respect, AirSpare
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deltadc9
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RE: A380 Debacle: It's The Software, Stupid!

Tue Oct 03, 2006 5:09 am

Quoting Revelation (Reply 40):
Well, this one seems to be 2.5 - 3.5B in direct costs, and the potential for 4.5 B in knock-on costs. What other ones do you know of with a bigger impact?

1) Australia's ALR 2002 system is now over 3 billion over budget and still ongoing but looks to fail.
2) The FAA went 3 billion over budget on the AAS project
3) The IRS had an 8 billion dollar project failure recently
4) The Denver Airport 3.45 billion dollar software failure led to losses of 1.1 million per DAY on top of the 250 million in development. It cost the City of Denver 1.1 billion alone
5) The UK Biometric card project looks to be a failure at 10.7 billion (US)
6) EDS had an 8.8 billion dollar failure for the US Navy
7) How much is 50 billion Yen? Thats what the Japanese government lost on the FGCS project

There are 80 Billion dollars in failed IT projects just in the US every year.

Quoting Shenzhen (Reply 42):
Give it 10 to 15 years. She gets prettier every year (every year I get older, not here)

I agree with Peter on Family Guy, her face looks like a foot. Sorry about your "bug"....
Dont take life too seriously because you will never get out of it alive - Bugs Bunny

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