Software Fixes Cause Airline Headache

By Tish Drake | March 30, 2010
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A US Airways executive admonished aircraft component suppliers to do a better job in developing software that later must be fixed and reloaded, telling them to “get it right the first time.”

David Seymour, US Airways senior vice president of Technical Operations, said the airline has encountered software problems with integrated avionics systems and faults that must be corrected in the line maintenance environment. Seymour gave the keynote address Monday at the AMC/AEEC joint meetings in Phoenix.

“In the old days, the software was tested in a lab environment, with extensive follow-on onboard testing on aircraft,” Seymour said. “Today, it seems the new software releases are only tested through simulation and briefly tested on board aircraft.”

US Airways is in the middle of loading a fifth version of software to correct “some onerous aircraft dispatch problems,” he said.

“We started down the path of loading this, and we were told by the aircraft manufacturer that another known issue has cropped up with the software,” Seymour related. “After discussing with another large operator of this aircraft, we found that yet a second issue has been discovered.

“Unfortunately, we’re starting to experience this more often than we would like,” he said. “The message to component manufacturers: if you don’t want to lose credibility with your customers, get it right the first time. Do thorough software testing on the front end of development before you issue out the software for airlines to load.”

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