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On Airplanes And Anti Lock Brakes

Posted on | June 29, 2009 | No Comments

I was just reading about some of the speculation into why the Air France Airbus crashed. Investigators are beginning to suspect total and complete malfunction of the on board computers that automatically adjust for things like turbulence.

Apparently, the pilots may have believed that the craft was flying so slowly that it was about to stall, when in reality it was going so fast that it was beginning to break apart.

This makes me remember the first time that I ever experienced anti-lock brakes. I was driving on a wet, dimly lit back road when a deer suddenly appeared in front of me. I was preparing for my car to fish tail, fully expecting it to do so .. but the brakes did not lock. Quite frankly, the ABS taking over really frightened me, I thought my brakes were failing. 

The ABS system itself is fuse protected which makes me wonder how many young drivers today could handle a full, sudden stop if the ABS failed? I don’t think young drivers should completely rely on computer aided safety features any more than a pilot should.

The article I was reading quoted some safety officials calling for more time in simulations for pilots, but what about driving schools? Can today’s 16 year old driver handle such a failure? I sincerely doubt it.

I’m not saying that its a bad idea to rely on hardened systems to keep us safe while operating things, but we should be adequately trained and consistently refreshed on how to handle things when those systems fail.


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