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Transportation Bug IOS Portables Software Apple

Crashing iPad App Grounds Dozens of American Airline Flights 263

infolation writes: American Airlines was forced to delay multiple flights on Tuesday night after the iPad app used by pilots crashed. Introduced in 2013, the cockpit iPads are used as an "electronic flight bag," replacing 16kg (35lb) of paper manuals which pilots are typically required to carry on flights. In some cases, the flights had to return to the gate to access Wi-Fi to fix the issue.
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Crashing iPad App Grounds Dozens of American Airline Flights

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  • NB4 (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 29, 2015 @08:41AM (#49576339)

    holding the plane wrong

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 29, 2015 @08:41AM (#49576343)

    or at least the Android variant thereof. Fools.

  • Wow ... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Wednesday April 29, 2015 @08:42AM (#49576351) Homepage

    Now there's a technology fail for you.

    Reminds me of a US naval ship being towed to shore because Windows NT crashed.

    I guess this is a problem when you have consumer technology being used in mission critical environments.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      single vendor solution, huh? really? REALLY? you flyboys thought that trusting one platform, instead of having a dual tech strategy was ENOUGH?

      who the hell is designing this system? who thought that not having an alternative backup (even if just a netbook with pdfs loaded) was a good idea?

      that person or group should be fired and never hired into tech again.

      stupid neophyte must be running the FAA. this does NOT inspire confidence, guys!!!

      shit, guys; when I do a presentation (ie, much less critical than

      • Problem is the EFB always needs to be up to date and synchronized between pilot and copilot. I imagine the problem was associated with a Jeppsen update more than the ipad, but the recent wifi hack does bring that into question some...

        • Re:Wow ... (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Megane ( 129182 ) on Wednesday April 29, 2015 @10:10AM (#49577267) Homepage

          I think that's a likely cause. I doubt they're updating the app (executable) on a regular basis and pushing the update, when it's only the data that changes regularly. All it takes is one glitch in a weekly data update, and one bad [phworld.org] switch statement [calpoly.edu] to cause a program to crash.

          Proper error handling is one of the most important things in keeping things running (especially in unattended systems), but one of the harder things to get right, because it's hard to test (as in QA) for every possible unexpected input. You have to get a bit paranoid with your coding, because garbage input really is out to get you.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by danbob999 ( 2490674 )

        single vendor solution, huh? really? REALLY?

        I still can't believe so many schools districts make the same mistake. It's like bending over asking to be vendor locked-in.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        I'm boggled by the fact that you flyboys brought only ONE type of tech onboard for this map stuff.

        Maybe your argument is with Jeppsen. They've had a pretty big monopoly for a very long time now.

    • This is a fail because they could have continued to carry the physical copy of everything needed as a Plan B.
      • Re:Wow ... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by NatasRevol ( 731260 ) on Wednesday April 29, 2015 @09:11AM (#49576615) Journal

        eFlight books were switched to to save millions of dollars in fuel costs every year. They're that heavy.

        • But there are millions of flights every years. So are you saying that they saved $1 per flight? Wouldn't it make sense to keep copies of the manual around at the airport so that they could use them if necessary? It wouldn't have any fuel costs to keep them on the ground.

          • And how exactly would that solve this problem? The one of not having the flight book *in the plane*?

            • by jedidiah ( 1196 )

              > And how exactly would that solve this problem? The one of not having the flight book *in the plane*?

              This is a perfect example of the helpless (and rigid) mentality of the Apple user.

              The solution is pretty simple really...

              1) Take one of those trucks that they use to load meals and snacks and sodas and fill it with manuals.

              2) Drive up to the grounded plane.

              3) Open the door.

              4) Shove printed manuals through the door.

              • Honestly, the Apple-ness of this is completely irrelevant, and you know damned well it is.

                A device, approved by the FAA for these purposes, received an update from the vendor (probably), which caused said device to crash. Since the function of that device is required by FAA regulations, you can't fly without it.

                The bundle of manuals weighed around 40 pounds, and eliminating them was expected to save them millions in fuel costs.

                This exact same problem could have happened on Windows or Linux.

                Your bitching ab

          • But there are millions of flights every years. So are you saying that they saved $1 per flight? Wouldn't it make sense to keep copies of the manual around at the airport so that they could use them if necessary? It wouldn't have any fuel costs to keep them on the ground.

            Try each airline is saving millions of dollars of fuel, not the industry as a whole. And it's not just fuel, they have to worry about these things being out of date - version control is critical with this data. So they also spend money on having people verify that the pilots have the correct data that could be used for other purposes.

            • Re:Wow ... (Score:5, Insightful)

              by Megane ( 129182 ) on Wednesday April 29, 2015 @10:14AM (#49577317) Homepage
              And then someone has to print some of those books on a regular basis. And then someone has to dispose of them when they expire. And the pilots probably carry regularly updated information for every airport in the countries they might fly in, whether they go to that airport or not.
          • But there are millions of flights every years. So are you saying that they saved $1 per flight? Wouldn't it make sense to keep copies of the manual around at the airport so that they could use them if necessary? It wouldn't have any fuel costs to keep them on the ground.

            So what you mean is that pilots must read and memorize the document at the airport before they take off? Your suggested solution does not solve anything and is irrelevant. The issue is that they need the document on board, not leaving behind at the airport. The weight of document implies that there are a lot of information you have with on board (35 lbs). Saving fuel cost is what airlines try to do in order to profit more...

        • Re:Wow ... (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Dutch Gun ( 899105 ) on Wednesday April 29, 2015 @09:59AM (#49577159)

          Those flight bags, at 35 lbs, were also very uncomfortable for the pilots to lug around. I remember how heavy a backpack full of textbooks was as a student, and wouldn't wish to repeat that experience at my age, which is still younger than many pilots. I wouldn't be surprised if the pilots were pushing for this as well.

        • eFlight books were switched to to save millions of dollars in fuel costs every year. They're that heavy.

          They're 16kg (35lb) (from TFS) - hardly "that heavy". One drink cart weighs more than that - empty.

      • by Imagix ( 695350 )
        While I get the thought behind the redundancy, bringing the physical copies defeats one of the purposes of doing the tablet in the first place. They're trying to reduce the weight, not increase it.
        • Re:Wow ... (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Mr D from 63 ( 3395377 ) on Wednesday April 29, 2015 @09:18AM (#49576699)
          Redundancy doesn't need to be hardcopies. Either bring backup I-pads, or better maybe a backup windows tab so you have both diversity and redundancy.

          Also, since this happened to many at about the same time, I assume an update or change was to blame. Don't update these unless there is a reason. And test if you do update, or keep a non-updated backup on hand until the update is proven reliable.
          • by Imagix ( 695350 )
            Erm, the comment I was replying to specifically called out bringing physical hardcopies. Although another poster did mention that perhaps having a physical copy at the gate might have been a good idea (don't consume weight on the plane, but is available to deploy if needed. Although does nothing for in-flight problems.). Would have turned cancelled flights into delayed flights.
          • Redundancy doesn't need to be hardcopies. Either bring backup I-pads, or better maybe a backup windows tab so you have both diversity and redundancy. Also, since this happened to many at about the same time, I assume an update or change was to blame. Don't update these unless there is a reason. And test if you do update, or keep a non-updated backup on hand until the update is proven reliable.

            The update was likely to some item of data the application uses, not the application itself. Otherwise it would have affected the entire AA fleet and not just 737's. This data is updated frequently and using old data could be dangerous to that flight and other planes in the air.

      • Re:Wow ... (Score:4, Informative)

        by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Wednesday April 29, 2015 @09:22AM (#49576737) Homepage

        Because they were expecting to save millions in fuel from not schlepping them around.

        So bringing the physical copy would have been almost 40 pounds of crap, which would defeat the purpose of having the iPad.

        Not saying I agree with not having a backup. But I can see why airlines wanted to get rid of it.

        A little known fact about aircraft manuals ... pretty much no two are identical since the production of planes changes over the years, and they all have slightly different pieces and parts. So this 737 is unlikely to be identical to that 737.

        You cant' have one manual, you need one for each damned aircraft. Which is part of the appeal for having it in electronic form.

        • Re:Wow ... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by bobbied ( 2522392 ) on Wednesday April 29, 2015 @09:29AM (#49576795)

          They DO have a backup...

          Both pilots carry IDENTICAL I-Pads.... What amazes me is that nobody thought of the single point of failure, the application the I-Pads run.. OOPS..

          • Re:Wow ... (Score:4, Interesting)

            by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Wednesday April 29, 2015 @09:43AM (#49576977) Homepage

            Yeah, how they failed to have two distinct sets which are never updated at the same time eludes me.

            That just pretty much guaranteed it would eventually go wrong on them.

            • Yea, but the problem was discovered before the aircraft left the ground so this is not a safety issue.

              I'm guessing that their solution will be to put Pilots and Copilots on different update schedules and also allow for the immediate roll back of any software updates by the user. Where I don't think having one application on one OS is necessarily all that risky, what cost them in this case was the inability for the pilots to roll back to the last version that worked right after an upgrade or grab a 'backup

              • by Guspaz ( 556486 )

                They still carry a paper copy of their emergency handbook, the one with all the emergency procedures in it. The iPads failing in the air wouldn't be a safety issue so long as the radio didn't fail, since I don't think there's any information in the iPad that the controller can't talk the aircraft through.

                • Re:Wow ... (Score:4, Informative)

                  by bobbied ( 2522392 ) on Wednesday April 29, 2015 @12:50PM (#49578977)

                  The emergency handbook for the aircraft isn't the issue here, it's the maps and approach plates which are constantly changing and must be kept current. The maps are legally required to fly IFR so it's part of the checklist before you kick the tires and light the fires you make sure you have the necessary maps and approach plates for your destination and alternates.

              • Re:Wow ... (Score:5, Informative)

                by tlhIngan ( 30335 ) <[slashdot] [at] [worf.net]> on Wednesday April 29, 2015 @10:40AM (#49577629)

                I'm guessing that their solution will be to put Pilots and Copilots on different update schedules and also allow for the immediate roll back of any software updates by the user. Where I don't think having one application on one OS is necessarily all that risky, what cost them in this case was the inability for the pilots to roll back to the last version that worked right after an upgrade or grab a 'backup device" from the pilot's lounge if theirs is somehow messed up. Given that the issue is not safety but more about keeping the schedule here, I imagine that the logistical costs of their solution will be a primary consideration.

                No can do.

                The problem isn't the iPad. Or the application. It's that one particular updated doc caused a problem.

                And by flight regulations, EVERYONE has to carry the latest revision of the document. And every document is on a different update schedule.

                Some documents are changed only when there are updates. Other documents have fixed expiry dates and must be updated to the latest version before that.

                And at all times you must have the latest available updates - sure there's maybe a week of grace when the new edition comes out before the old edition expires, but that's about it.

                In the paper world, people were actually employed to go through all 35lbs of documents ensuring the latest versions of every page were present (pages are usually supplied as differences in binders, so you remove the old page and stick in the new page. Pages were versioned (typically by date) and there's often a cover sheet saying what's the latest version of each page (updated every time there's an update).

                Of course, if you have hundreds of pilots each having to do this, eventually the human version of patch(1) will screw up, so you need to double check for this.

                It's why EFBs have been so widely embraced - not having to have someone check 35lbs of documents practically daily, not having to have a whole infrastructure set up to distribute updates, not having to spend time updating documents, etc, it's a terrible chore.

                In fact, given the number of updates and how long it's been going on, it's surprising it's only happened once that an update screws up - I'm sure in the past with paper it happened dozens or hundreds of times a day because updates happen that often, usually to different subsets of the pilots.

            • This. So much this. I don't get why people don't understand staggered roll outs. Do an update on one, wait two weeks, then update the other. Or heck, do a tick/tock update where they're always on slightly different versions.

              Google does this for a reason with all of their updates in the Android store, and lots of major devs do it also. It's built into the deployment tool, where you can specify all at once or how to dole it out so that you see major bugs before they affect you're entire group. I can
      • This is a fail because they could have continued to carry the physical copy of everything needed as a Plan B.

        I did not see any information about whether or not the still carry a physical copy as a backup. If it were up to me, I would do just that. And since the physical copy is the backup, not the primary, I would not begin a flight unless I knew that both my primary (iPad) and backup (paper) were both available and working.

    • Re:Wow ... (Score:5, Informative)

      by Richard_at_work ( 517087 ) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [ecirpdrahcir]> on Wednesday April 29, 2015 @09:15AM (#49576669)

      The US naval ship Windows NT crash meme is somewhat of a myth - there was a testbed ship (USS Yorktown CG-48) running an experimental ship management and integration system. The crash did indeed occur, but it had nothing to do with Windows NT and everything to do with invalid data being entered into the apps management system causing all linked systems to stop working. While everyone jumps on the "Windows NT" aspect of this, it would have happened under Unix as well.

    • What I'm surprised by is the fact that this problem just suddenly cropped up on a given day(and with enough units that it wasn't just a hardware fluke).

      These ipads were replacements for a big bag of relatively static documentation. For that purpose, you'd think that you would freeze the iOS version for long periods of time(and have IT test the hell out of any updates), and have a similarly static app that Nobody Touches without substantial approval, with only some PDF or HTML documents specific to the fl
      • These ipads were replacements for a big bag of relatively static documentation. For that purpose, you'd think that you would freeze the iOS version for long periods of time(and have IT test the hell out of any updates), and have a similarly static app that Nobody Touches without substantial approval, with only some PDF or HTML documents specific to the flight swapped out as needed.

        The data is not static. And the fact that it happened only to the 737 aircraft in the fleet suggests that it had something to do with data that was specific to this aircraft and not the application or iPad OS itself.

    • Re:Wow ... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jellomizer ( 103300 ) on Wednesday April 29, 2015 @09:33AM (#49576837)

      At the time Windows NT wasn't a consumer technology, Windows NT was a serious contender in the server space, for mission critical systems. At that time Linux was still considered a Hobby OS. Other alternatives were Unix variant, but during those stages they weren't really that much better. It was just when we heard that Windows NT crashed, we all laughed at it, because of allegiance towards Linux.

      However today... Consumer technology today Windows, Android, iOS. Are really based on Professional Server Grade OS Kernels. They are just running on cheaper hardware.

      The issue for this isn't blaming the iPad or iOS but the maker of that App for those documents. They screwed up, This would have happened if they had a Million Dollar professional system in their hands too.

    • ... but the geek never forgets.

      Reminds me of a US naval ship being towed to shore because Windows NT crashed.

      In 1997, the ship in question was a test bed for the introduction of COTS technologies at sea. The Wikipedia essay on the Aegis Cruiser "Yorktown" kind of slides over the fact that the ship remained in active service until 2004 with no other significant Windows-related incidents. USS Yorktown (CG-48) [wikipedia.org]

  • to create the no IOS zone. http://www.theregister.co.uk/2... [theregister.co.uk]
  • by JaredOfEuropa ( 526365 ) on Wednesday April 29, 2015 @08:45AM (#49576373) Journal
    Let's see these AA iPads and the software for what they really are: pieces of business-critical software / hardware. Which means that they have to treat it like any other combination of business critical software and hardware. The entire configuration is frozen, software, OS, patches and all, and any change is thoroughly tested before it is pushed to the production devices.

    So what happened? One news item hints at a recent update causing the issue. Where did the update come from? Was iOS updated, or the app? Was this update tested before being rolled out?
    • Let's see these AA iPads and the software for what they really are: pieces of business-critical software / hardware. Which means that they have to treat it like any other combination of business critical software and hardware. The entire configuration is frozen, software, OS, patches and all, and any change is thoroughly tested before it is pushed to the production devices.

      So what happened? One news item hints at a recent update causing the issue. Where did the update come from? Was iOS updated, or the app? Was this update tested before being rolled out?

      They can't freeze the configuration unless they freeze all the airports. These devices carry maps. Maps need to be updated all the time.

      What happened here wasn't that an update caused a problem. What happened was that two iPads in a cockpit didn't manage to receive an update that they should have received, so they had to take the iPads into the airport, and the data update worked just fine. Obviously this took time, so the flight got delayed.

    • Which means that they have to treat it like any other combination of business critical software and hardware. The entire configuration is frozen, software, OS, patches and all, and any change is thoroughly tested before it is pushed to the production devices.

      That's not agile.

  • cost recoup (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ftobin ( 48814 ) * on Wednesday April 29, 2015 @08:46AM (#49576381) Homepage

    I wonder how long it takes to recoup the cost of this disruption by continuing to carry lighter manuals.

    • Flights get cancelled all of the time. It's just part of the business. Flights get cancelled by computer glitches [duckduckgo.com] all of the time as well, yet you don't see the airlines going back to the pre-punch card tickets. Despite what some posters around here would like you to believe, computers screw up. But we still keep them.

      I guess it's like a dysfunctional relationship. We're codependent.

  • by Joe Gillian ( 3683399 ) on Wednesday April 29, 2015 @08:50AM (#49576421)

    What I'm wondering is what would have happened had this iPad crash occurred during the flight post-takeoff. Why do they not carry the paper manuals as a backup in case this sort of thing happens?

    • by davidwr ( 791652 ) on Wednesday April 29, 2015 @08:53AM (#49576445) Homepage Journal

      Weight.

    • If you're going to carry the 35lbs of paper maps anyway, why not save some money and not have the iPad? The maps aren't going to crash on you after all.
    • or just carry some pdfs on a netbook if the weight is a concern?

    • by Nidi62 ( 1525137 )

      What I'm wondering is what would have happened had this iPad crash occurred during the flight post-takeoff. Why do they not carry the paper manuals as a backup in case this sort of thing happens?

      Most airlines keep a paper copy of the flight kit in the cockpit. The idea of tablets is so pilots no longer have to carry around 35lb flight bags. I find it hard to believe that American didn't have a backup hardcopy onboard.

    • by houghi ( 78078 )

      Perhaps not paper, but why not have an Android and an iPhone version? e.g. Pilot has the iPhone and co-pilot has the Android.

      That way not a lot of extra weight is added and there is redundancy.

      Obviously updates never should be done at the same time, but with at least one week in between each of them.

    • What I'm wondering is what would have happened had this iPad crash occurred during the flight post-takeoff. Why do they not carry the paper manuals as a backup in case this sort of thing happens?

      Then.... The ground based controllers will be forced to assist the pilots in navigation to the destination and unless the weather is below VFR minimums, nothing changes for the flight. IF the destination is under IFR rules, then the flight might be forced to divert because they don't have the minimum necessary equipment to do an IFR approach (i.e. a copy of the approach plate) available.

      Actually, for most of these pilots, they've flown the same route multiple times in the last few weeks anyway. Likely the

  • by nimbius ( 983462 ) on Wednesday April 29, 2015 @08:54AM (#49576465) Homepage
    Here at american, we know you've come to expect the broken traytables, rotted seatback pockets, and permanently reclined seating prominently featured on our aging reagan-era Boeing fleet. We know none of you understand what the hell a gold line american star alliance partner is, but are well aware it means you're about to board a 42 seat brazillian rust-bucket with misaligned landing wheels and a weird styrofoam smell. Each year we add more rare earth metals and precious gems to our flight upgrade programs in an in incorrigible effort to confuse and infuriate weary passengers. What is Americium? Shouldnt platinum be more worthy than sapphire? who knows, who cares. We recognize your supreme discomfort at 4 AM as our cancelled connector to newark hobbles mercifully into the hanger for 20 years of well-earned repair to be condensed into 9 minutes of speed tape and air fresheners. We know you choose American because our 35 year old concourse seating has gone from suede to patent leather from use, and its foam long since evaporated to a fine haze of formaldehyde. And we, American, appreciate your undying commitment to sit in an airplane that smells canned soup and farts while futile attempts to adjust your weight merely prolong your encounter with the threadbare frame of a seat no more comfortable than a bus stop bench. But we cannot sacrifice our commitment to swiping, clicking, and tapping on a device that makes our second hand aeroflot cockpits look like modern museums to supercomputing and hence have cancelled numerous flights.
  • Why such crap? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by aaaaaaargh! ( 1150173 ) on Wednesday April 29, 2015 @08:57AM (#49576487)

    What do they put on it? Checklists? Airport charts? Or even approach/departure charts? What if it crashes during taxiing on a busy airport? What if it crashes in the middle of a complicated approach procedure? What if it crashes during checklist and the pilots forget to check a point?

    In other words: Why would anyone use cheap crap such as an iPad in a professional passenger airplane? How stupid is that?

    • Re:Why such crap? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by FooAtWFU ( 699187 ) on Wednesday April 29, 2015 @09:04AM (#49576555) Homepage
      Do you have a better and more reliable tablet system in mind, or are you suggesting that they should have stuck with the 35-pound suitcases full of printed material?
      • Of course I'm not an expert, but a plane already has tens of mission-critical computers in the cockpit. Why not use them?
      • yes, a netbook running a locked down version of linux, with NO update ability, signed binaries and (to be even more sure) put the os in ROM. require some kind of key to do any writes at all to it. have dual sections of rom for redundancy and crc check them; if one is bad, switch to the other.

        I could have designed and built a system in probaby 1/10 the time it took for them to PAY OFF APPLE and buy those shiny shitslates.

        they used consumer grade 'auto updatable' fashon accessories for mission critical thin

        • Re:Why such crap? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Wednesday April 29, 2015 @09:37AM (#49576893) Homepage

          I could have designed and built a system in probaby 1/10 the time it took for them to PAY OFF APPLE and buy those shiny shitslates.

          they used consumer grade 'auto updatable' fashon accessories for mission critical things

          Horseshit. You are completely talking out of your ass.

          Because they sure as shit didn't do this without approval from the FAA [wikipedia.org]:

          The iPad has been used in General Aviation in conjunction with its paper backup counterpart, which is mandated by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). There are many applications available which include everything that would be on the paper charts plus aviation tools including navigation charts, taxi procedures, weather maps, GPS, Minimum Equipment List, Company Policy Manual, Federal Aviation Regulations and flight controls. Although these tools have been used in the private sector, the use of the iPad in commercial aviation is just taking flight.

          The Federal Aviation Administration finished a three-month testing project which included putting the device thru adverse conditions such as rapid decompression testing and tests to make sure the tablet did not interfere with the avionic equipment. Early in 2011 the FAA authorized charter company Executive Jet Management to use iPad records without the backup paper charts.[1] This helps make way for the iPad to become an aviation instrument for the rest of the industry. Alaskan Airlines,[2] Delta Air Lines,[2] and American Airlines[3] planned test programs.

          Why must everybody on Slashdot keep acting like they could whip up a half-assed solution in a week, or that regulated industries just make shit up as they go?

          The reality is, this has not a fucking thing to do with paying off Apple or a hastily thrown together solution.

          This sounds entirely like an update from the vendor was poorly tested. In which case, they have some lessons to learn about working in that industry -- which is about as risk averse as you can get. Precisely because the FAA holds them to a very high standard.

          But, hey, don't let reality get in the way of your claims you could do a better job in your pajamas.

      • Do you have a better and more reliable tablet system in mind, or are you suggesting that they should have stuck with the 35-pound suitcases full of printed material?

        Why is presenting a false dichotomy modded up as "insightful"??

        Why not just have a BACKUP system of any sort? As noted by a number of other comments on this thread, what about a netbook with PDFs? Weighs 2 pounds, not 35. (And, for extra security, one could lock it down in various ways to ensure it is stable.)

        This isn't an just an Apple issue. It's a simple fact that consumer-grade devices require redundancy. What if the iPad's battery is dead, or it ends up corrupted, or somebody drops the darn th

      • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

        by maestroX ( 1061960 )

        Do you have a better and more reliable tablet system in mind, or are you suggesting that they should have stuck with the 35-pound suitcases full of printed material?

        It takes less than 1 mins of googling for rugged laptop/tablet or whatever, and I'm not even qualified to make such as decision.
        (e.g. panasonic toughtablet)
        something pretty vital to ops should have had more consideration than guessing a popular consumer item will do.
        What the fuck are they thinking when replacing critical units?

    • by Nidi62 ( 1525137 )
      The problem is in using an app. The documents should be downloaded directly to the device and stored there for easy retrieval. But as I replied in another post, most airlines from what I understand keep a backup paper copy of the kit onboard the aircraft.
    • by Hamfist ( 311248 )

      Here's the wikipedia reference if you want to understand more about what is actually going on. The answers to your questions are pretty easy to find.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E... [wikipedia.org]

      It's fairly clear the critical flight operations are not allowed to be carried out on those devices. Once reading that article, does it change your perspective? This seems like 'something didn't work right, people were inconvenienced' and 'American should do a better job of QA and change management'

  • In seriousness now, I won't make fun of the part where they went for the vendor with the most posh consumer tablet, instead of having something customized for this job.
    But I am wondering, since it was just supposed to replace the paper manuals, why weren't those manuals the backup? Ok, don't carry them around all the time, but shouldn't they still be available as a backup to take them to the pilots if there is trouble with the ipads instead of just canceling the flight?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 29, 2015 @09:04AM (#49576563)

    Electronic Flight Bag (EFB) software is an essential tools for aviation. One iPad can handle multiple charts, maps, and devices which would can weight of more than 20 lbs. Jeppesen software is the American Airlines is the corporate EFB software. A recent update crashed. The Jeppesen tool is a well known company and has Aerospace level of testing. It still failed. There are other EFB tools out there. This has nothing to do with WiFi and everything to do with software development.

    • But unfortunately, haters gonna hate, so many here are already spinning this as "POS Apple iPad crashed cause it suxors!" instead of the much more accurate "POS software update went bad and crashed the hardware".
    • This has nothing to do with WiFi and everything to do with software development.

      If such materials are so mission-critical that flights have been cancelled and planes required to return to get paper backups, why not just have an electronic backup system OF SOME SORT present? Why not even just have all your charts, maps, etc. in PDF form?

      Yeah, it's fun and all to have an app. I'm sure it has a cool interface that makes it easier or quicker to use. But the easy alternative to many pounds of paper books is a bunch of PDF files. Just because your one app crashes, why should you have

  • What happens if the iPrecious crashes mid flight? And if they do still have the old maps, why the delay? Who thought it was a bright idea to create cascading chaos in daily airtraffic just for pilot convenience?

    • What happens if the iPrecious crashes mid flight? And if they do still have the old maps, why the delay? Who thought it was a bright idea to create cascading chaos in daily airtraffic just for pilot convenience

      If the iPad (I assume you were just trying to make a stupid joke there) crashes mid flight, you reboot it. Then you take the co-pilots iPad.

      The information is there in triplicate. Pilot's iPad. Co-pilot's iPad. Bag of papers. As a passenger, you are safe with one copy. The rules say that three copies must be there when the plane takes off, to guarantee that at least one is there when it is needed. The delay happened because there were no three complete and up-to-date copies.

  • Well, just about...

  • I read the headline and envisioned several AA planes being slowly fed into a meat grinder.
    • by neminem ( 561346 )

      That would be "grinds" (or "ground"), not "grounds".

      • You're the guy that tells children Santa isn't real and explains magic tricks to spoil the illusion aren't you?
    • by Megane ( 129182 )

      No, that would be "Crashing App Grinds Dozens of Flights to a Halt".

      The proper image should be of large copper cables attached between planes and large metal stakes in the ground.

  • Just read and memorize the manuals so that it's not an issue.

    • Just read and memorize the manuals so that it's not an issue.

      Actually, for IFR flight the FAA regulations require that you have current approach plates in the cockpit for reference when flying IFR approaches. It's part of the "minimum equipment" required. So if you don't have them in hard or soft copy, you legally cannot fly the approach, even if you think you memorized the whole thing.

      In an emergency, ATC can assist you by providing the necessary information and then authorize you to fly the approach even if you don't have the maps, but you are going to have to a

  • The captain could have asked someone to turn on their phones wifi hotspot for a minute, or done i himself if he knew how. Would have saved a trip back to the gate.

1.79 x 10^12 furlongs per fortnight -- it's not just a good idea, it's the law!

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