What Should Aviation Incidents Teach Us?

Authors:Greenwell, William, Department of Computer ScienceUniversity of Virginia Knight, John, Department of Computer ScienceUniversity of Virginia

Accidents and incidents involving safety-critical software systems often provide lessons to the systems' users and designers, to industry, and to the software engineering community at large. Proper identification and documentation of these lessons is critical in order to prevent the recurrence of an untoward event. In this paper we examine two commercial aviation incidents involving failures of safety-critical software systems. Based on our analysis of the incidents and the official investigations that followed, we conclude that the aviation community is missing important lessons regarding safety-critical software systems, especially concerning the broad role these systems play in preserving the safety of commercial air travel. This is primarily because incidents involving such systems are not being investigated and documented with sufficient rigor to identify these lessons and disseminate them throughout the aviation community effectively.
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Source Citation:

Greenwell, William, and John Knight. "What Should Aviation Incidents Teach Us?." University of Virginia Dept. of Computer Science Tech Report (2003).

University of Virginia, Department of Computer Science
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