As the world’s largest aerospace aircraft manufacturer, Boeing has been at the forefront of promoting digital transformation and promoting industrial technology software, but in just half a year, Boeing’s new passenger aircraft 737-MAX has two consecutive air crashes, more than 300 passengers. All the victims have caused great shocks on a global scale. Then, the Boeing 737-MAX with relatively high digitization level has successive air crashes. What is the connection with the software? What are the warnings for the development of the software industry? It is worth exploring.
Software has become a key factor in the successive crashes of Boeing 737
Comprehensive digitalization has also brought about a safety hazard while greatly improving the overall performance of the Boeing 737-MAX. The Boeing 737-MAX is a derivative of the Boeing 737 with a new engine, including the 737-MAX8, 737-MAX9 and many other models. The integration of new software is an important direction for the improvement of new models, such as the electric spoiler system, which can improve the handling reliability and shorten the landing distance; the electric air induction system can optimize the cabin pressure and anti-ice system; the airborne network The system includes a Digital Flight Data Acquisition Component (eDFDAU) and a Network File Server (NFS). Through a series of improvements, the Boeing 737-MAX has built “brains” and “nerves” built by software and networks, and many hardware functions, including sensors, can be controlled by software. Compared to traditional models, the Boeing 737-MAX has significantly improved fuel economy, flight handling, cabin comfort, and flight transparency. However, the fusion application of emerging software technology is also a double-edged sword. If there is a lack of necessary adaptive adjustment capabilities, there are obvious design loopholes, the control settings are too complicated, and the emergency protection components are not perfect, which may lead to unexpected results. Serious consequences.
Data errors and software vulnerabilities led to two crashes. According to the latest findings, the latest information extracted from the wreckage of the aircraft and the flight data recorded by the satellite tracking system, the recent two Boeing 737-MAX8 crash events have similarities. According to the analysis of the professional, the cause of the accident was that the aircraft’s angle of attack sensor data incorrectly triggered the “anti-stall” automatic operation, which led to the continuous pressing of the nose. At the same time, the pilot’s manual pull-up operation was invalid after the nose was out of control, and the aircraft crashed. It is inferred from this that the angle of attack sensor and the system MCAS (automatically correcting the stall system) that automatically controls the press head are the key to the accident. MCAS is mainly used to prevent the risk of high angle of attack flight stall caused by the Boeing 737-MAX equipped with a new engine. The original intention is that if the sensor on the aircraft fuselage detects a high speed stall, even if there is no pilot input signal. Next, the system will also force the aircraft’s nose to be depressed. However, when the sensor signal is wrong, if the pilot can not perform the corresponding operation as required, the aircraft will fall under the control of MCAS. According to the preliminary analysis of the existing data, the two accidents were similar. Abnormal subduction and climb occurred before the passenger plane accident. The sensor data acquisition error and the software system problem of the passenger aircraft should be the main cause of the accident.
The upgrade of the software system became the main remedy for Boeing to deal with crashes. After the Ethiopian accident, Boeing has issued a ground-out proposal to the world and announced that it will suspend the delivery of the 737-MAX series. As a remedy to deal with the accident, Boeing’s system upgrade for MCAS will be launched globally. According to the latest news, Boeing has completely revised the 747-MAX MCAS system software and organized a software upgrade plan briefing. Boeing said that the MCAS system software update development work has been carried out since the Lion Air accident.
Boeing 737 accident reveals three key points to be concerned about in the process of software
After three stages of software and hardware integration, software productization and software service, the service, network and intelligence of software have become the current development trend. With the accelerating process of digitization, the current Boeing company is both a spacecraft manufacturer and a software company or big data company. Based on the massive data generated by aircraft flight, Boeing uses software to integrate and analyze the data to improve the performance of the aircraft. According to statistics, Boeing has used more than 8,000 kinds of software in its research and development, of which more than 7,000 are developed by Boeing. The software technology of aircraft R&D and system control has become Boeing’s core secret technology and core competitiveness. At present, an important direction of China’s manufacturing transformation and upgrading is the industrialization of industrial technology. Improving the ability of software technology research and development and application has become the key to winning future competition.
The Boeing 737 accident indicates that in the process of industrial technology software, it is necessary to focus on three aspects: software capacity building, software controllability, and software security testing.
Software capacity building should gradually shift from development-oriented to development and application balance. At present, software is gradually infiltrating into all aspects of economic and social development. Software-driven drives traditional industry transformation and upgrading, and software requirements are also extending to the application side. On the one hand, technological innovation is more focused on adaptation to industry application scenarios, and the demand for customized software development is on the rise. In Boeing, for example, only more than 1,000 of the more than 8,000 software are general-purpose software, and most of them are proprietary software for aircraft manufacturing. Therefore, in software technology innovation, the demand for compound talents who understand both software development and application needs will be more urgent, which is also the direction of future software talent training in China. On the other hand, the software application capabilities of the application side are also crucial, and the greater value of the software depends on both the software itself and the application level. This problem is particularly prominent in the Boeing air crash. In fact, the MCAS system that causes the air crash can be completely shut down by the driver. If the driver is familiar with the software control mode and operates reasonably, there is a great possibility that the driver will be saved. Therefore, while the software industry in China is developing rapidly and applying infiltration, it must increase the popularization of software basic technology and the cultivation of application capabilities.
Software controllability emphasizes the level of understanding and management of the core code. In the field of software, code is the core technology carrier. It can be said that whoever masters the code will get the initiative of core technology innovation; whoever leads the technology innovation will have more software controllability. On the one hand, the design details of the software should be clear to avoid design flaws and low-level vulnerabilities. On the other hand, the efficiency of software update iterations should be improved to provide timely remediation after problems occur, minimizing losses. The occurrence of the Boeing air crash is related to these two aspects. Some researchers pointed out that the Boeing 737-MAX MCAS system has very low-level logic error problems, and the original system software update has been postponed. The reason may be related to Boeing’s software development relying on the outsourcing of other companies, its lack of leadership and neglect of management. The value of control over software, the control of software code, and the dominance of software innovation are gaining value in future market competition. In 2018, Microsoft spent $7.5 billion to acquire GitHub, the world’s largest open source code hosting platform. Of course, improving software controllability is not exactly the same as the system framework. Every software needs to be completely self-developed. China’s C919 aircraft uses a variety of systems from Parker Aerospace, Honeywell, Liebherr and other foreign companies to achieve The efficient management of multiple types of software, and timely update is also the performance of improving software controllability.
Software system security testing should prevent “chains”, security is the premise of development, only to ensure security, software new features, new features will be useful, otherwise it will be abandoned. The Boeing 737-MAX accident tells us that any security issue cannot be ignored, and security management should be placed first. On the one hand, any software system can not be absolutely secure, and timely detection of vulnerabilities and filling of vulnerabilities can minimize security risks. After more than 30 years of continuous update, Microsoft Windows system still can not eliminate all the vulnerabilities, and still continue to release security patches from time to time. On the other hand, security management can not be ignored, especially for the core software system, comprehensive third-party security vulnerability detection should be carried out, so that it will not be used without security testing and will not go online.
Revelation and advice
At present, software has become a key capability for major engineering advancement, important platform construction, and key product manufacturing, and its importance is beyond doubt. From the perspective of enterprise applications, in the process of software transformation and upgrading of new generation information technologies such as cloud computing and big data, we must carefully learn the lessons brought by the Boeing 737 accident and continuously strengthen the controllability of software technologies and products. Improving the level of software application makes software a “booster” for development rather than a “hidden source of harm” that causes disasters. From the perspective of software industry development, efforts should be made to strengthen the research of software value basics, establish a sound industrial ecosystem of inspection and testing, improve the supply level of compound talents, and promote the orderly development of industrial safety.
Master the initiative of key technology innovations and improve the emergency level. First, relying on scientific research institutions and key enterprises to carry out software core technology research, and constantly improve the software core technology innovation capabilities. Establish a multi-participation, multi-party shared software code sharing platform to promote open source and openness of software technology. Support enterprises to actively participate in or lead the world’s major open source projects, improve the ability to transform and transform leading-edge technologies, and gain innovation leadership in key open source projects. Guide software companies to strengthen continuous innovation of key products, promote software product iterations, improve user experience, and reduce security vulnerabilities. The second is to optimize the software management system around major information systems and platforms, establish a software security vulnerability warning platform, and improve the efficiency of vulnerability repair.
Improve the testing and evaluation management system and strengthen security. First, support third-party software inspection and testing institutions to increase investment in technological innovation, improve the level of inspection and testing technology for software products and information systems, and improve service capabilities for software development and software applications. The second is to strengthen the security management of key information systems. The important software systems for the core links require that they must pass the software system security testing and certification of qualified third-party inspection and testing institutions. The third is to strengthen the guidance and management of third-party software inspection and testing institutions, to guide software developers and application parties to establish a sense of security testing, and actively carry out third-party evaluation of software. At the same time, it is necessary to support information security enterprises to carry out vulnerability detection and other work around the public service information system, and provide necessary support for “white hat (positive hacker)”.
Focus on creating a training environment for composite software talents and improve software application capabilities. First, the software basic skills will be included in the training of quality education ability, support colleges and universities to further develop software colleges, and actively open majors in the fields of big data, artificial intelligence and other industries, and increase the supply of software professionals. The second is to meet the needs of industry software development, promote joint training between training institutions, software companies and industry enterprises, organize technical exchanges, and focus on cultivating compound talents who understand software technology and are familiar with application needs. The third is to actively carry out pilot demonstrations of software technology applications in key areas, organize training of software application talents, establish a talent training and certification system, and improve the application level of application software products. With the help of new media means such as WeChat, we will popularize the basic knowledge of software, disseminate software and code culture, and improve the information literacy of the whole people.