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"Matthew S. Whiting" <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Mon, 27 Jul 1998 17:31:21 -0400
text/plain (38 lines)
Stanley Allen wrote:
> Matthew S. Whiting wrote:
> >
> > It seems a little melodramatic to me to consider a flight SIMULATOR to
> > be a safety critical application.  Now a flight CONTROL system in a real
> > airplane is another matter...
> >
> If you are thinking along the lines of "Microsoft Flight Simulator",
> you are correct.  However, many simulation facilities for pilot
> *certification* training involve a lot of large moving parts.  These
> are the "motion-based" training simulators which often have a cockpit
> elevated using hydraulic stilts and which allow multiple degrees of
> motion.  In addition to simple take-off and landing motions (BTW,
> I say "simple" knowing that the safety aspects of these activities
> are not trivial), such a training device may often be programmable
> via instructor inputs to simulate motion resulting from strong winds,
> ascents and descents, and "battle" action.  For these kinds of
> simulators, life- or limb-threatening hazards are not unknown.

No, definitely not MS Flight Sim!  I'm a pilot myself and have a little
familiarity with full-motion flight simulators from some training I took
at Flight Safety.  Sure if one went haywire it could shake you up a bit,
but I think most flight sims have an E-stop button in case things go
nuts.  I design industrial process control systems and we have several
E-stop buttons near almost any station that a human might occupy.  It is
very hard to E-stop a flying airplane, an ATC computer, a pacemaker,
etc.  I prefer to use "safety critical" for those situations where it
really fits almost all of the time, rather than a situation where it may
fit under some very unusual circumstances.

Granted it is a fairly minor semantic point, but if we get too casual
about the term "safety critical" it will soon lose its meaning.  You can
cry "wolf" only so many times...