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charlesarthur : safety   10

Claims of shoddy production draw scrutiny to a second Boeing jet • The New York Times
Natalie Kitroeff and David Gelles:
<p>Facing long manufacturing delays, Boeing pushed its work force to quickly turn out Dreamliners, at times ignoring issues raised by employees.

Complaints about the frenzied pace echo broader concerns about the company in the wake of two deadly crashes involving another jet, the 737 Max. Boeing is now facing questions about whether the race to get the Max done, and catch up to its rival Airbus, led it to miss safety risks in the design, like an anti-stall system that played a role in both crashes.

Safety lapses at the North Charleston plant have drawn the scrutiny of airlines and regulators. Qatar Airways stopped accepting planes from the factory after manufacturing mishaps damaged jets and delayed deliveries. Workers have filed nearly a dozen whistle-blower claims and safety complaints with federal regulators, describing issues like defective manufacturing, debris left on planes and pressure to not report violations. Others have sued Boeing, saying they were retaliated against for flagging manufacturing mistakes.

Joseph Clayton, a technician at the North Charleston plant, one of two facilities where the Dreamliner is built, said he routinely found debris dangerously close to wiring beneath cockpits.

“I’ve told my wife that I never plan to fly on it,” he said. “It’s just a safety issue.”

In an industry where safety is paramount, the collective concerns involving two crucial Boeing planes — the company’s workhorse, the 737 Max, and another crown jewel, the 787 Dreamliner — point to potentially systemic problems.</p>


Hell of a story, which gets to the question of distributed manufacturing systems, and how people can raise objections within them.
boeing  safety 
april 2019 by charlesarthur
Doomed Boeing jets lacked two safety features that company sold only as extras • The New York Times
Hiroko Tabuchi and David Gelles:
<p>The jet’s software system takes readings from one of two vanelike devices called angle of attack sensors that determine how much the plane’s nose is pointing up or down relative to oncoming air. When MCAS detects that the plane is pointing up at a dangerous angle, it can automatically push down the nose of the plane in an effort to prevent the plane from stalling.

Debris from Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, which crashed on March 10. The angle of attack features could have alerted the pilots if a new software system was malfunctioning.

Boeing’s optional safety features, in part, could have helped the pilots detect any erroneous readings. One of the optional upgrades, the angle of attack indicator, displays the readings of the two sensors. The other, called a disagree light, is activated if those sensors are at odds with one another.

Boeing will soon update the MCAS software, and will also make the disagree light standard on all new 737 Max planes, according to a person familiar with the changes, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they have not been made public. Boeing started moving on the software fix and the equipment change before the crash in the Ethiopia.

The angle of attack indicator will remain an option that airlines can buy. Neither feature was mandated by the Federal Aviation Administration. All 737 Max jets have been grounded.

“They’re critical, and cost almost nothing for the airlines to install,” said Bjorn Fehrm, an analyst at the aviation consultancy Leeham. “Boeing charges for them because it can. But they’re vital for safety.”</p>


Now one has to think about all the other "optional" safety features that airlines aren't deploying because of the cost. How do you find that out?
airlines  boeing  safety  mcas 
march 2019 by charlesarthur
Preliminary report released for crash involving pedestrian, Uber Technologies test vehicle • NTSB
<p>The <a href="https://goo.gl/2C6ZCH">report</a> states data obtained from the self-driving system shows the system first registered radar and LIDAR observations of the pedestrian about six seconds before impact, when the vehicle was traveling 43 mph. As the vehicle and pedestrian paths converged, the self-driving system software classified the pedestrian as an unknown object, as a vehicle, and then as a bicycle with varying expectations of future travel path. At 1.3 seconds before impact, the self-driving system determined that emergency braking was needed to mitigate a collision. According to Uber emergency braking maneuvers are not enabled while the vehicle is under computer control to reduce the potential for erratic vehicle behavior. The vehicle operator is relied on to intervene and take action. The system is not designed to alert the operator.

In the report the NTSB said the self-driving system data showed the vehicle operator engaged the steering wheel less than a second before impact and began braking less than a second after impact. The vehicle operator said in an NTSB interview that she had been monitoring the self-driving interface and that while her personal and business phones were in the vehicle neither were in use until after the crash.

All aspects of the self-driving system were operating normally at the time of the crash, and there were no faults or diagnostic messages.</p>


It doesn't do emergency braking when it's under computer control, but it doesn't alert the "driver" either. That's all sorts of wrong. It's a pity that someone had to die for this huge error to become apparent.
ai  safety  uber  selfdrivingcar 
may 2018 by charlesarthur
Drowning doesn't look like drowning • Soundings Online
Mario Vittone wrote this article perhaps a decade ago; now he's republishing it in the hope that ahead of summer, people learn its lessons. Please read the whole thing:
<p>The new captain jumped from the deck, fully dressed, and sprinted through the water. A former lifeguard, he kept his eyes on his victim and headed straight for a couple who were swimming between their anchored sportfish and the beach. “I think he thinks you’re drowning,” the husband said to his wife. They had been splashing each other, and she had screamed, but now they were just standing neck-deep on a sandbar. “We’re fine, what is he doing?” she asked, a little annoyed. “We’re fine!” the husband yelled, waving him off, but his captain kept swimming hard toward him. “Move!” he barked as he sprinted between the stunned owners. Directly behind them, not 10 feet away, their nine-year-old daughter was drowning. Safely above the surface in the arms of the captain, she burst into tears and screamed, “Daddy!”

How did this captain know — from 50 feet away — what the father couldn’t recognize from just 10? Drowning is not the violent, splashing call for help that most people expect. The captain was trained to recognize drowning by experts and years of experience. The father, on the other hand, learned what drowning looks like by watching television.

If you spend time on or near the water (hint: that’s all of us), then you should make sure that you and your crew know what to look for when people enter the water. Until she cried a tearful, “Daddy,” the owner’s daughter hadn’t made a sound. As a former Coast Guard rescue swimmer, I wasn’t surprised at all by this story. Drowning is almost always a deceptively quiet event. The waving, splashing and yelling that dramatic conditioning (television) prepares us to look for is rarely seen in real life…

…if a crewmember falls overboard and everything looks okay, don’t be too sure. Sometimes the most common indication that someone is drowning is that they don’t look as if they’re drowning. They may just look as if they are treading water and looking up at the deck. One way to be sure? Ask them, “Are you alright?” If they can answer at all, they probably are. If they return a blank stare, you may have less than 30 seconds to get to them. And parents — children playing in the water make noise. When they get quiet, you need to get to them and find out why.</p>


I was once walloped by three waves in the surf about 10 metres off Bondi Beach on a busy day. I couldn't catch my breath before each one, and realised that if I didn't get clear of the next wave, I would drown - even though there were people all around me. As he says, drowning doesn't look like films/TV suggest. Less drama, more crisis.
drowning  information  safety 
may 2018 by charlesarthur
Tesla says its factory is safer—but it left injuries off the books • MIT Technology Review
Will Evans and Alyssa Jeong Perry:
<p>Under fire for mounting injuries, Tesla recently <a href="https://www.tesla.com/blog/becoming-safest-car-factory-world">touted a sharp drop</a> in its injury rate for 2017, which it says came down to meet the auto industry average of about 6.2 injuries per 100 workers.

But things are not always as they seem at Tesla. An <a href="https://revealnews.org/insulttoinjury">investigation</a> by <a href="https://www.revealnews.org/">Reveal</a> from The Center for Investigative Reporting found that Tesla has failed to report some of its serious injuries on legally mandated reports, making the company’s injury numbers look better than they actually are.

Last April, Tarik Logan suffered debilitating headaches from the fumes of a toxic glue he had to use at the plant. He texted his mom: “I’m n hella pain foreal something ain’t right.”

The searing pain became so unbearable he couldn’t work, and it plagued him for weeks.

But Logan’s inhalation injury, as it was diagnosed, never made it onto the official injury logs that state and federal law requires companies to keep. Neither did reports from other factory workers of sprains, strains and repetitive stress injuries from piecing together Tesla’s sleek cars.

Instead, company officials labeled the injuries personal medical issues or minor incidents requiring only first aid, according to internal company records obtained by Reveal.

Undercounting injuries is one symptom of a more fundamental problem at Tesla: The company has put its manufacturing of electric cars above safety concerns, according to five former members of its environment, health and safety team who left the company last year. That, they said, has put workers unnecessarily in harm’s way.</p>


Tesla isn't quite getting things right, it seems. Also: that auto industry average seems very high.
tesla  factory  safety 
april 2018 by charlesarthur
Collision course: why this type of road junction will keep killing cyclists • Single Track World
"Bez" on a junction in the UK where the angle of road intersection is perfect to make a cyclist invisible behind the driver-side pillar as they approach it:
<p><img src="https://beyondthekerb.org.uk/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/ipley-cross-pillar-shadows-6-seconds.png" width="100%" />

At the position shown, approximately 100m from the junction at Ipley Cross, the pillar obscures roughly 12m of Beaulieu road. That’s six bicycle lengths: enough to hide not just a cyclist but a small group of riders.

Of course, as the driver approaches that junction, that obscured section of road moves towards the junction with them. As does the cyclist.

Parekh’s car had a black box type device, which (contrary to his statements to police) recorded his approach to the junction at a steady speed of 37mph. At this speed it would have taken six seconds to cover the 100m to the collision, and the following image shows the approximate areas obscured by the Zafira’s pillar at six points in time representing each incremental second leading up to impact, with the red area showing the pillar shadow one second prior to impact.

Although the obscured section of road becomes smaller as the driver approaches, it remains large enough to completely obscure a bicycle until less than a second prior to impact: too late for either party to react.</p>


There have been multiple accidents with cyclists - including deaths - at that junction. It would be good to have a way to figure out how to discover where such junctions exist.
traffic  cycling  safety 
january 2018 by charlesarthur
How to escape a submerged car • Popular Mechanics
<p>The good news is that you can escape a sinking vehicle. But you've got to be quick. According to The University of Manitoba's Gordon Geisbrecht, who trains law enforcement officers and others on underwater-vehicle escape, a person has about a minute to get out alive. Here are his five rules of survival—and one caveat.

Rule 1. Don't Call 911 until you're out of the car. You're going to need every second to get out of that vehicle. Worry about calling 911 once you've made it out alive, or, as in the case of the I-5 collapse, if your vehicle isn't submerged. "Time is critical," says Geisbrecht. "If you touch your cell phone you're probably going to die."

Rule 2. Unbuckle.

Rule 3. Don't open the door! Roll down the windows instead. Opening the door is very difficult against the water pressure and it also allows so much water into the vehicle that it will speed up the sinking process.

You'll have 30 seconds to a minute until the water rises to the bottom of the passenger windows. This is what Geisbrecht calls the floating period. After that, the water pressure will force the window against the doorframe, making it essentially impossible to roll down.

Caveat to Rule 3: Break that window. Since most vehicles these days have electronically controlled windows, the circuits probably will short before you have a chance to roll them down. In that case, you'll need a tool to break the window open.</p>


Click through for rules 4 and 5, of course. This is clearly a very dangerous situation; let's hope you never find yourself in it, but that if you do you can remember at least a few of these. Prompted by the sad story of <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2017/08/29/he-could-hear-the-kids-screaming-couple-and-great-grandchildren-feared-dead-in-houston-floods/">a family swept away in Houston's floods</a>.
driving  safety  car  submerged  survival 
august 2017 by charlesarthur
Inside Alabama’s auto jobs boom: cheap wages, little training, crushed limbs • Bloomberg
Peter Waldman:
<p>Parts suppliers in the American South compete for low-margin orders against suppliers in Mexico and Asia. They promise delivery schedules they can’t possibly meet and face ruinous penalties if they fall short. Employees work ungodly hours, six or seven days a week, for months on end. Pay is low, turnover is high, training is scant, and safety is an afterthought, usually after someone is badly hurt. Many of the same woes that typify work conditions at contract manufacturers across Asia now bedevil parts plants in the South.

“The supply chain isn’t going just to Bangladesh. It’s going to Alabama and Georgia,” says David Michaels, who ran OSHA for the last seven years of the Obama administration. Safety at the Southern car factories themselves is generally good, he says. The situation is much worse at parts suppliers, where workers earn about 70¢ for every dollar earned by auto parts workers in Michigan, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. (Many plants in the North are unionized; only a few are in the South.)

Cordney Crutcher has known both environments. In 2013 he lost his left pinkie while operating a metal press at Matsu Alabama, a parts maker in Huntsville owned by Matcor-Matsu Group Inc. of Brampton, Ont. Crutcher was leaving work for the day when a supervisor summoned him to replace a slower worker on the line, because the plant had fallen 40 parts behind schedule for a shipment to Honda Motor Co. He’d already worked 12 hours, Crutcher says, and wanted to go home, “but he said they really needed me.” He was put on a press that had been acting up all day. It worked fine until he was 10 parts away from finishing, and then a cast-iron hole puncher failed to deploy. Crutcher didn’t realize it. Suddenly the puncher fired and snapped on his finger. “I saw my meat sticking out of the bottom of my glove,” he says.

Now Crutcher, 42, commutes an hour to the General Motors Co. assembly plant in Spring Hill, Tenn., where he’s a member of United Auto Workers. “They teach you the right way,” he says. “They don’t throw you to the wolves.” His pay rose from $12 an hour at Matsu to $18.21 at GM.</p>


It's quite disturbing how low the bottom is in a race to the bottom.
manufacturing  cars  safety 
march 2017 by charlesarthur
Crash: how computers are setting us up for disaster • The Guardian
Tim Harford:
<p>It is possible to resist the siren call of the algorithms. Rebecca Pliske, a psychologist, found that veteran meteorologists would make weather forecasts first by looking at the data and forming an expert judgment; only then would they look at the computerised forecast to see if the computer had spotted anything that they had missed. (Typically, the answer was no.) By making their manual forecast first, these veterans kept their skills sharp, unlike the pilots on the Airbus 330. However, the younger generation of meteorologists are happier to trust the computers. Once the veterans retire, the human expertise to intuit when the computer has screwed up could be lost.

Many of us have experienced problems with GPS systems, and we have seen the trouble with autopilot. Put the two ideas together and you get the self-driving car. Chris Urmson, who runs Google’s self-driving car programme, hopes that the cars will soon be so widely available that his sons will never need to have a driving licence. There is a revealing implication in the target: that unlike a plane’s autopilot, a self-driving car will never need to cede control to a human being.

Raj Rajkumar, an autonomous driving expert at Carnegie Mellon University, thinks completely autonomous vehicles are 10 to 20 years away. Until then, we can look forward to a more gradual process of letting the car drive itself in easier conditions, while humans take over at more challenging moments.</p>


But as Harford has illustrated with an earlier example from an Air France crash, only giving humans the challenging moments carries dangerous presumptions in itself.
ai  automation  algorithms  computer  safety 
october 2016 by charlesarthur
Unsafe cars can save lives • Marginal REVOLUTION
Alex Tabarrok:
<p>David Ward, secretary general of Global NCAP told the Wall Street Journal:
<p>Global NCAP strongly believes that no manufacturer anywhere in the world should be developing new models that are so clearly sub-standard,” he said. “Car makers must ensure that their new models pass the UN’s minimum crash test regulations, and support use of an airbag.</p>


Let’s take a closer look. These cars are very inexpensive. A Renault Kwid, for example, can be had for under $4000. In the Indian market these cars are competing against motorcycles. Only 6 percent of Indian households own a car but 47% own a motorcycle. Overall, there are more than five times as many motorcycles as cars in India.

Motorcycles are also <a href="http://www.iihs.org/iihs/topics/t/motorcycles/fatalityfacts/motorcycles">much more dangerous than cars</a>.</p>


So easy to overlook the prevailing market conditions. How many motorbikes have airbags? A car without one is still safer.
economics  india  car  safety 
may 2016 by charlesarthur

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