Airbus A320

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pages: 175 words: 54,028

Fly by Wire: The Geese, the Glide, the Miracle on the Hudson by William Langewiesche

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Air France Flight 447, Airbus A320, airline deregulation, Bernard Ziegler, Captain Sullenberger Hudson, crew resource management, New Journalism, US Airways Flight 1549, William Langewiesche

The Escape New York, January 15, 2009 It was a wintry Thursday afternoon, and the city had turned inward on itself against the cold. On Manhattan’s west side, a few people who happened to be looking toward the Hudson River caught a glimpse of an airline accident that initially brought back memories of another case, eight years earlier, of airplanes crashing into the heart of New York. This time it was US Airways Flight 1549, an Airbus A320 that ran into a flock of geese, lost thrust from both engines, and glided without power to a safe landing in the Hudson’s frigid waters. The Department of Homeland Security flashed its badges, but only as bureaucracies do. There were no foreign terrorists here. The geese were innocent birds. The captain was the very definition of a good citizen, a man named Chesley Sullenberger whose life until now had been so uneventful that many of his peers at US Airways had overlooked his presence.

Sumwalt read an opening statement, explaining the proceeding in general terms, dismissing any conflict of interest that as a former US Airways pilot he might appear to have, and finishing with a request that people take note of the exits from the room for use in the event of an emergency. Apparently he thought you just can’t be too careful in life. That was the tone of the entire hearing. The chief investigator led off with a bare-bones summary of the accident: it occurred on January 15, 2009, at 3:27 p.m.; there were 150 passengers and five crew members aboard; they were in an Airbus A320 bound from New York’s LaGuardia Airport for Charlotte, North Carolina; the time from liftoff to the bird strike was 1 minute, 37 seconds; the birds were Canada geese at 2,700 feet; the geese caused a nearly complete loss of thrust by wrecking both engines; the glide to the river lasted 3 minutes, 31 seconds; the total flight time therefore was 5 minutes, 8 seconds; after the water landing the first rescue boat arrived in 3 minutes, 45 seconds; one flight attendant and four passengers were seriously injured; there were no fatalities.

Their first run was to Charlotte, in a new stretched Airbus A321, which they were eager to fly. After pushing back from the gate, they had the airplane deiced. They lifted off from Pittsburgh at 8:56 in the morning, and two hours later they landed, after a typically uneventful flight. In Charlotte they switched airplanes for a scheduled flight to LaGuardia. The assigned airplane was a 150-passenger Airbus A320, about nine years old, a veteran of 16,298 flights and 25,239 hours of operation. Two days earlier, on a flight from LaGuardia, its right engine had burped because of a faulty temperature probe. The airline’s mechanics had replaced the probe. The airplane was in excellent shape. Skiles had a slice of pizza in the Charlotte terminal before settling with Sullenberger into the cockpit. The departure was slightly delayed because of snowfall from a cold front passing over New York, but at noon they lifted off from Charlotte.


pages: 66 words: 19,580

A Week at the Airport: A Heathrow Diary by Alain de Botton

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Airbus A320, fear of failure, invention of the telephone, liberation theology, Pearl River Delta, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Silicon Valley

He had pictured himself playing with the children in the palm-lined garden and eating grilled fish and olives with Louise on the terrace. But although David had reflected at length on his stay in the Peloponnese, there were still many things that managed to surprise him at Terminal 5. He had omitted to recall the existence of the check-in line or to think of just how many people can be fitted into an Airbus A320. He had not focused on how long four hours can seem nor had he considered the improbability of all the members of a family achieving physical and psychological satisfaction at approximately the same time. He had not remembered how hurtful he always found it when Ben made it clear that he disproportionately favoured his mother or how he himself invariably responded to such rejections by becoming unproductively strict, which in turn upset his wife, who liked to voice her opinion that Ben’s reticence was due primarily to the lack of paternal contact he had had since his father’s promotion.

But the staff shied away from existential issues, seeming to restrict their insights to matters relating to the transit time to adjacent satellites and the location of the nearest toilets. Yet it was more than a little disingenuous for the airline to deny all knowledge of, and responsibility for, the metaphysical well-being of its customers. Like its many competitors, British Airways, with its fifty-five Boeing 747s and its thirty-seven Airbus A320s, existed in large part to encourage and enable people to go and sit in deckchairs and take up (and usually fail at) the momentous challenge of being content for a few days. The tense atmosphere now prevailing within David’s family was a reminder of the rigid, unforgiving logic to which human moods are subject, and which we ignore at our peril when we see a picture of a beautiful house in a foreign country and imagine that happiness must inevitably accompany such magnificence.


pages: 269 words: 74,955

The Crash Detectives by Christine Negroni

Air France Flight 447, Airbus A320, Captain Sullenberger Hudson, Checklist Manifesto, computer age, crew resource management, crowdsourcing, low cost carrier, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, South China Sea, Tenerife airport disaster, Thomas Bayes, US Airways Flight 1549

In 2013 he became a first officer on Lufthansa’s low-cost carrier GermanWings. In the spring of 2015, Lubitz would commandeer his own flight from Barcelona to Dusseldorf and fly it into a mountain, killing himself and 149 others. The thirty-four-year-old captain, Patrick Sondenheimer, had left the cockpit to go to the bathroom after leveling the plane at thirty-eight thousand feet. With Sondenheimer gone and the cockpit door locked, Lubitz put the Airbus A320 on an autopilot descent to one hundred feet, a path that would take the plane directly into the high terrain in the French Alps. Lubitz overrode the captain’s attempts to return to the flight deck and did not reply to radio calls from controllers. For eleven minutes the plane descended, until finally it hit a mountain near Prads-Haute-Bléone. It would soon come out that Lubitz’s depression had returned, and that in the weeks before the event, his physicians had advised him not to work, according to notes found in the trash in the young man’s home.

A series of misunderstandings about the way the automation worked meant that the flight was coming in too low and too slow, and the decision to go around and try the landing again came too late. The plane hit a seawall at the edge of the runway bordering San Francisco Bay, slammed onto the ground, and pivoted up before hitting the runway a second time. Lee Kang-guk, the captain, in the left seat, had ten thousand total flight hours on other jets but just thirty-three on the Boeing 777. He was transitioning from the Airbus A320 narrow-body under the supervision of Capt. Lee Jung-min, who was in the right seat. After the accident, Lee Kang-guk told investigators that he delayed initiating a go-around because he thought “only the instructor captain had the authority.” How open pilots are to asserting themselves, pointing out the errors of superiors, or acknowledging their own fallibility is highly influenced by culture.

“We continued [toward the landing] with full caution,” he said, keeping an eye out for any indication of wind shear. “Thank God,” Norhisham said when Flight 124 landed safely with no injuries, though everyone on board the airplane was shaken. Only then did Norhisham stop and think about the “very thin margin of survival.” He had joined a fraternity of pilots who had knowingly broken the last link in the chain to calamity. Three and a half years later, Chesley Sullenberger and Jeff Skiles ditched an Airbus A320 in New York’s Hudson River after geese flew into the engines following takeoff from LaGuardia Airport. In September 2010, Andrei Lamanov and Yevgeny Novoselov landed on an abandoned runway in northwestern Russia that was half as long as their aircraft required. A total power failure on a the Tupelov TU-154 caused all the fuel pumps to fail, starving the engines and leading to the loss of all navigation and radio equipment on what should have been a five-hour flight to Moscow.


pages: 184 words: 53,625

Future Perfect: The Case for Progress in a Networked Age by Steven Johnson

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Airbus A320, airport security, algorithmic trading, banking crisis, barriers to entry, Bernie Sanders, call centre, Captain Sullenberger Hudson, Cass Sunstein, cognitive dissonance, credit crunch, crowdsourcing, dark matter, Dava Sobel, David Brooks, Donald Davies, future of journalism, hive mind, Howard Rheingold, HyperCard, Jane Jacobs, John Gruber, John Harrison: Longitude, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, lone genius, Mark Zuckerberg, mega-rich, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Naomi Klein, Nate Silver, Occupy movement, packet switching, peer-to-peer, Peter Thiel, planetary scale, pre–internet, RAND corporation, risk tolerance, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, social graph, Steve Jobs, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, Tim Cook: Apple, urban planning, US Airways Flight 1549, WikiLeaks, William Langewiesche, working poor, X Prize, your tax dollars at work

The brainchild of NASA engineers, the fly-by-wire system used digital computers and other modern electronic systems to relay control information from the pilot to the plane. Because computers were involved, it became easier to provide assistance to the pilot in real time, even if the autopilot was disengaged, preventing stalls, or stabilizing the plane during turbulence. Inspired by the NASA model, engineers at Airbus in the early 1980s built an exceptionally innovative fly-by-wire system into the Airbus A320, which began flying in 1987. Twenty-one years later, Chesley Sullenberger was at the controls of an A320 when he collided with that flock of Canada geese. Because his left engine was still able to keep the electronics running, his courageous descent into the Hudson was deftly assisted by a silent partner, a computer embodied with the collective intelligence of years of research and planning.

Sullenberger was in command of the aircraft as he steered it toward the Hudson, but the fly-by-wire system was silently working alongside him throughout, setting the boundaries or optimal targets for his actions. That extraordinary landing was a kind of duet between a single human being at the helm of the aircraft and the embedded knowledge of the thousands of human beings that had collaborated over the years to build the Airbus A320’s fly-by-wire technology. It is an open question whether Sullenberger would have been able to land the plane safely without all that additional knowledge at his service. But fortunately for the passengers of flight 1549, they didn’t have to answer that question. — The popular response to the Miracle on the Hudson encapsulates just about everything that is flawed in the way we think about progress in our society.


pages: 308 words: 84,713

The Glass Cage: Automation and Us by Nicholas Carr

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Airbnb, Airbus A320, Andy Kessler, Atul Gawande, autonomous vehicles, Bernard Ziegler, business process, call centre, Captain Sullenberger Hudson, Checklist Manifesto, cloud computing, computerized trading, David Brooks, deliberate practice, deskilling, digital map, Douglas Engelbart, drone strike, Elon Musk, Erik Brynjolfsson, Flash crash, Frank Gehry, Frank Levy and Richard Murnane: The New Division of Labor, Frederick Winslow Taylor, future of work, global supply chain, Google Glasses, Google Hangouts, High speed trading, indoor plumbing, industrial robot, Internet of things, Jacquard loom, Jacquard loom, James Watt: steam engine, job automation, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, Kevin Kelly, knowledge worker, Lyft, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, means of production, natural language processing, new economy, Nicholas Carr, Norbert Wiener, Oculus Rift, pattern recognition, Peter Thiel, place-making, Plutocrats, plutocrats, profit motive, Ralph Waldo Emerson, RAND corporation, randomized controlled trial, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, robot derives from the Czech word robota Czech, meaning slave, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, software is eating the world, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, TaskRabbit, technoutopianism, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, turn-by-turn navigation, US Airways Flight 1549, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, William Langewiesche

That’s a seductive idea, but it’s simplistic. Machines share the fallibility of their makers. Sooner or later, even the most advanced technology will break down, misfire, or, in the case of a computerized system, encounter a cluster of circumstances that its designers and programmers never anticipated and that leave its algorithms baffled. In early 2009, just a few weeks before the Continental Connection crash in Buffalo, a US Airways Airbus A320 lost all engine power after hitting a flock of Canada geese on takeoff from LaGuardia Airport in New York. Acting quickly and coolly, Captain Chesley Sullenberger and his first officer, Jeffrey Skiles, managed, in three harrowing minutes, to ditch the crippled jet safely in the Hudson River. All passengers and crew were evacuated. If the pilots hadn’t been there to “babysit” the A320, a craft with state-of-the-art automation, the jet would have crashed and everyone on board would almost certainly have perished.

You can use your device’s search function to locate particular terms in the text. Abbott, Kathy, 55 accidents: automotive, 7, 70, 91, 153, 154–55, 207, 208 plane, 43–45, 54, 55, 154, 169–70 accountants, accounting firms, 76–77 action, human, 85, 132, 147–51, 160, 210, 213–14, 215, 217, 218 hierarchy of, 65–66 Adams, Thomas, 191 adaptive automation, 165 Addiction by Design (Schüll), 179n agriculture, 218, 222 Airbus A320 passenger jet, 50–52, 154 Airbus Industrie, 50–52, 168, 169–70 Air Force, U.S., 173 Air France Airbus A330, 45, 54, 169–70 airlines, 1, 43–46, 53–55, 59, 168–70, 172–73 air-traffic control, 170 Albaugh, James, 59 alert fatigue, 104 algorithms, 116–22 ethics and, 183–84, 186–87 predictive, 116–17, 123, 198 Amazon, 118, 195 American Health Information Community, 94 American Machinist, 34, 174 Andreessen, Marc, 40 Android, 153, 199 animals: body-object blending in, 150–51 killing of, 183–84, 185 animal studies, 87–92, 133, 219 antiaircraft guns, 35–36, 37, 41 anxiety, 14, 16, 19, 59, 220 Aporta, Claudio, 126–27 Apple, 41, 118, 136, 203 apprenticeship, 109, 113, 147 apps, 12, 13, 17, 33, 40, 91, 133, 202 gamification and, 179n see also specific apps architects, architecture, 12, 69, 137–48, 167 “Are Human Beings Necessary?”


pages: 319 words: 105,949

Skyfaring: A Journey With a Pilot by Mark Vanhoenacker

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Airbus A320, British Empire, Cape to Cairo, computer age, dark matter, digital map, Edmond Halley, John Harrison: Longitude, Louis Blériot, Maui Hawaii, out of africa, phenotype, place-making, planetary scale, Ralph Waldo Emerson, random walk, the built environment, transcontinental railway

I liked many aspects of the country’s historic relationship with aviation, its deep tradition of air links with the whole world, and the fact that even some of the shortest flights from Britain are to places so very different from it. And, not least, I liked the idea of living near the good friends I’d made as a postgraduate there. I began to fly commercially when I was twenty-nine. I first flew the Airbus A320 series airliners, a family of narrow-bodied jets used on short- to medium-distance flights, on routes all around Europe. I’d be woken by an alarm in the 4 a.m. darkness of Helsinki or Warsaw or Bucharest or Istanbul, and there would be a brief bleary moment, in the hotel room whose shape and layout I’d already forgotten in the hours since I’d switched off the light, when I’d ask myself if I’d only been dreaming that I became a pilot.

In navigation terms we speak of ship-derived or own-ship positions. The captain is still the skipper, often abbreviated to Skip as a term of direct address—“Hey, Skip.” As a copilot I am a first officer on an airliner; among the cabin crew are pursers. We talk of forward and aft; cabins, galleys, bulkheads, holds, yokes; manifests, tacking, coamings, and trim. We count aircraft by hulls. A colleague not sure if I am still flying the Airbus A320 or if I have switched to the Boeing 747, will ask me which fleet I am on. The small handle we use to turn the plane at low speeds on the ground, a sort of steering wheel that few visitors to the cockpit notice, is a tiller. Airplanes have rudders—and, in a linguistic twist analogous to those marine mammals that have re-evolved limbs better suited for their return to water, floatplanes may have water rudders.


pages: 309 words: 100,573

Cockpit Confidential: Everything You Need to Know About Air Travel: Questions, Answers, and Reflections by Patrick Smith

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Airbus A320, airline deregulation, airport security, Atul Gawande, call centre, Captain Sullenberger Hudson, collective bargaining, inflight wifi, low cost carrier, Maui Hawaii, Mercator projection, New Urbanism, pattern recognition, race to the bottom, Skype, Tenerife airport disaster, US Airways Flight 1549, zero-sum game

In a few instances, certification to fly different models is the same, as with the Airbus A330/A340 and Boeing 757/767, but these planes were designed with dual-qualification in mind and are exceptions to the rule. There are enormous differences between aircraft types, and switching from one to another entails a lengthy syllabus of classroom and simulator training. At the moment, I fly the 757 and 767. If you threw me into the cockpit of an Airbus A320, I’d be hard pressed to get an engine started. Transitioning to another model, or upgrading from first officer to captain of the same model, pilots undergo a complete training regimen. Even if you’ve previously checked out on a particular plane, you’ll sweat through an extensive requalification program. Tradition holds that pilots earn very high salaries. Is this really so true anymore?

Just to let you know, we’ve received a failure indication for the backup loop of the smoke detection system in the aft cargo compartment.” In this example, passengers come home with, “Oh my god, the plane was on fire.” Not that people aren’t bright enough to figure out what is or isn’t dangerous, but we’re dealing with jargon and terminology that begs to be misunderstood. This topic brings to mind the unfortunate saga of jetBlue flight 292, an Airbus A320 that made an emergency landing in Los Angeles in 2005 because of a landing gear problem. Although only a minor incident from a technical point of view, the entire affair was caught on live television, engrossing millions of Americans and needlessly scaring the daylights out of everybody on the plane: Moments after liftoff from Burbank, California, the pilots realized their forward landing gear had not properly retracted and was cocked at 90 degrees.


pages: 182 words: 56,961

The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right by Atul Gawande

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Airbus A320, Atul Gawande, call centre, Captain Sullenberger Hudson, Checklist Manifesto, index card, John Snow's cholera map, megacity, RAND corporation, Tenerife airport disaster, US Airways Flight 1549, William Langewiesche

They wanted to talk about Sully using his experience flying gliders as an Air Force Academy cadet. “That was so long ago,” Sullenberger said, “and those gliders are so different from a modern jet airliner. I think the transfer of experience was not large.” It was as if we simply could not process the full reality of what had been required to save the people on that plane. The aircraft was a European-built Airbus A320 with two jet engines, one on each wing. The plane took off at 3:25 p.m. on a cold but clear afternoon, headed for Charlotte, North Carolina, with First Officer Jeffrey Skiles at the controls and Sullenberger serving as the pilot not flying. The first thing to note is that the two had never flown together before that trip. Both were tremendously experienced. Skiles had nearly as many flight hours as Sullenberger and had been a longtime Boeing 737 captain until downsizing had forced him into the right-hand seat and retraining to fly A320s.


pages: 369 words: 98,776

The God Species: Saving the Planet in the Age of Humans by Mark Lynas

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Airbus A320, back-to-the-land, Berlin Wall, carbon footprint, clean water, Climategate, Climatic Research Unit, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, decarbonisation, dematerialisation, demographic transition, Haber-Bosch Process, ice-free Arctic, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invention of the steam engine, James Watt: steam engine, megacity, meta analysis, meta-analysis, moral hazard, Negawatt, New Urbanism, oil shale / tar sands, out of africa, peak oil, planetary scale, quantitative easing, race to the bottom, Ronald Reagan, special drawing rights, Stewart Brand, University of East Anglia

The only likely exception to the rule against biofuels is the urgent need to decarbonize air transportation, where low-carbon alternatives to liquid hydrocarbon fuels remain a distant prospect. While aviation has been demonized by environmentalists (myself included) in the past because of the climate change impact of aircraft emissions, in terms of fuel efficiency per passenger kilometer the latest large aircraft like the Airbus A320 and the Boeing 787 now compare favorably with small family cars. The reason why per capita emissions from an intercontinental flight are counted in the many tonnes of CO2 is the enormous distances covered: No one drives from London to Sydney. Reducing aggregate demand is not an option: Pleas by Greens for people to “give up flying” have found limited appeal to say the least, particularly given that most environmentalists I know continue themselves to enjoy the benefits of air transportation.31 Therefore, with over 2 billion people using air travel every year already, and rapid uptake in developing countries like India and China, technical substitutes for high-carbon aviation must rapidly be found.


pages: 402 words: 98,760

Deep Sea and Foreign Going by Rose George

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Admiral Zheng, air freight, Airbus A320, Albert Einstein, bank run, cable laying ship, Captain Sullenberger Hudson, Costa Concordia, Edward Lloyd's coffeehouse, Exxon Valdez, failed state, Filipino sailors, global supply chain, Google Earth, intermodal, London Whale, Malacca Straits, Panamax, pattern recognition, profit maximization, Skype, trade route, UNCLOS, UNCLOS, urban planning, William Langewiesche

He sounded the whistle five times. He got on the radio to the Daesan authorities. He tried to call the barge and got no response, then watched in disbelief as the barge hit his ship, fracturing all three cargo tanks. Suddenly there he was in the middle of an environmental disaster ‘with hydrocarbons all around us’. Imagine that the ship was an aeroplane. Imagine, for example, that it was US Airways Airbus A320, landed on New York’s Hudson River by Captain Chelsey Sullenberger in 2009. Although fuel oil was discharged into the river, Captain Sullenberger was an immediate hero, because all lives were saved. No-one died either in the collision between the barge and Hebei Spirit. Yet Jasprit Chawla and his first officer were immediately thrown in jail. Chawla had been at sea for 16 years without incident.


pages: 304 words: 93,494

Hatching Twitter by Nick Bilton

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4chan, Airbus A320, Burning Man, friendly fire, index card, Jeff Bezos, John Markoff, Kevin Kelly, Mahatma Gandhi, Mark Zuckerberg, pets.com, rolodex, Ruby on Rails, Saturday Night Live, side project, Silicon Valley, Skype, social web, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, technology bubble, traveling salesman, US Airways Flight 1549, WikiLeaks

The same fans who now lived on Venice Beach, in Los Angeles. Noah’s new neighbors. Soon, just as in San Francisco, the blue bird appeared. “Hey, have you ever heard of Twitter?” people asked Noah in bars along the Venice boardwalk. “Whoa, why do you have so many followers?” they said in coffee shops on Abbot Kinney Boulevard. Twitter’s prominence in the headlines reached a pinnacle during an event dubbed “Miracle on the Hudson,” when an Airbus A320 with 155 passengers on board took off from New York’s LaGuardia Airport and was struck by a flock of birds. It landed safely in the Hudson River. A picture of the passengers escaping from the downed plane landed on Twitter, taken by a tourist on a ferry who had snapped a photo with his phone. And then it was all over the Web, magazines, and the nightly news. Twitter. Twitter. Twitter. Twitter.


pages: 391 words: 105,382

Utopia Is Creepy: And Other Provocations by Nicholas Carr

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Air France Flight 447, Airbnb, Airbus A320, AltaVista, Amazon Mechanical Turk, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, Bernie Sanders, book scanning, Brewster Kahle, Buckminster Fuller, Burning Man, Captain Sullenberger Hudson, centralized clearinghouse, cloud computing, cognitive bias, collaborative consumption, computer age, corporate governance, crowdsourcing, Danny Hillis, deskilling, digital map, Donald Trump, Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, Elon Musk, factory automation, failed state, feminist movement, Frederick Winslow Taylor, friendly fire, game design, global village, Google bus, Google Glasses, Google X / Alphabet X, Googley, hive mind, impulse control, indoor plumbing, interchangeable parts, Internet Archive, invention of movable type, invention of the steam engine, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Jeff Bezos, jimmy wales, job automation, Kevin Kelly, lifelogging, low skilled workers, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, means of production, Menlo Park, mental accounting, natural language processing, Network effects, new economy, Nicholas Carr, Norman Mailer, off grid, oil shale / tar sands, Peter Thiel, Plutocrats, plutocrats, profit motive, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, Republic of Letters, robot derives from the Czech word robota Czech, meaning slave, Ronald Reagan, self-driving car, SETI@home, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Singularitarianism, Snapchat, social graph, social web, speech recognition, Startup school, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, technoutopianism, the medium is the message, theory of mind, Turing test, Whole Earth Catalog, Y Combinator

Google is quick to tell us about how few accidents its autonomous cars are involved in, but it doesn’t trumpet the many times the cars’ backup drivers have had to take the wheel to steer the machines out of danger. Computers are wonderful at following instructions, but they’re lousy at improvisation. They resemble, in the words of computer scientist Hector Levesque, “idiot savants” who are “hopeless outside their area of expertise.” Their talents end at the limits of their programming. Human skill is less circumscribed. Think of Captain Sully Sullenberger landing that Airbus A320 on the Hudson River after its engines were taken out by a flock of geese. Born of deep experience in the real world, such intuition lies beyond calculation. If computers had the ability to be amazed, they’d be amazed by us. While our own flaws loom large in our thoughts, we view computers as infallible. Their scripted consistency presents an ideal of perfection far removed from our own clumsiness.


pages: 371 words: 101,792

Skygods: The Fall of Pan Am by Robert Gandt

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Airbus A320, airline deregulation, Ayatollah Khomeini, Berlin Wall, collective bargaining, hiring and firing, invisible hand, Maui Hawaii, RAND corporation, Tenerife airport disaster, yield management, Yogi Berra, Yom Kippur War

The ghosts of Flight 103 were stalking the ticket counters. The passenger loads that had begun, ever so haltingly, to pick up in 1988 vanished like the radar blip of Clipper Maid of the Seas. Historically Pan Am faced a cash crunch every winter during the slack America-to-Europe tourist season. This year’s shortfall amounted to more than a crunch. Only by transferring its slots on previously ordered Airbus A-320s to Jay Pritzker’s Braniff II was Pan Am able to generate the cash—$l24 million—to meet its payroll at the beginning of 1989. Worried employees were asking, “Why doesn’t he do something?” By “he” they meant, of course, the chairman. Granted, no one had any particularly good ideas about what Tom Plaskett ought to be doing about Pan Am’s condition. But they wanted something done. Anything. “I gave up a third of my wages and benefits,” said an operations staffer, “for this?


pages: 306 words: 85,836

When to Rob a Bank: ...And 131 More Warped Suggestions and Well-Intended Rants by Steven D. Levitt, Stephen J. Dubner

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Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Airbus A320, airport security, augmented reality, barriers to entry, Bernie Madoff, Black Swan, Broken windows theory, Captain Sullenberger Hudson, creative destruction, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, deliberate practice, feminist movement, food miles, George Akerlof, information asymmetry, invisible hand, loss aversion, mental accounting, Netflix Prize, obamacare, oil shale / tar sands, Pareto efficiency, peak oil, pre–internet, price anchoring, price discrimination, principal–agent problem, profit maximization, Richard Thaler, security theater, Ted Kaczynski, the built environment, The Chicago School, the High Line, Thorstein Veblen, transaction costs, US Airways Flight 1549

What Captain Sullenberger Meant to Say (But Was Too Polite to Do So) (BY “CAPTAIN STEVE”) Captain Steve is a seasoned international pilot for a major U.S. carrier and a friend of Freakonomics. (Given the sensitivity of what he writes, he prefers anonymity.) This post was published on June 24, 2009, six months after the “The Miracle on the Hudson,” in which Captain Chesley Sullenberger safely landed an Airbus A320-200 in the Hudson River. Both the plane’s engines had failed, due to a bird strike, shortly after takeoff from LaGuardia Airport in New York. After reading some of the excerpts of Captain Sullenberger’s various speeches, especially those of a few weeks ago with the National Transportation Safety Board, I would like to add my editorial. Captain Sullenberger has been a class act all the way. He’s not been petty, pious, or egotistical.


pages: 278 words: 83,504

Boeing Versus Airbus: The Inside Story of the Greatest International Competition in Business by John Newhouse

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Airbus A320, airline deregulation, Bay Area Rapid Transit, Build a better mousetrap, corporate governance, demand response, low cost carrier, upwardly mobile

FOR MOST of the past twenty years, a tooth-and-claw battle for the single-aisle-airplane market has held center stage in the Airbus-Boeing saga. It set Airbus’s A320 family against Boeing’s 737’s. The success of low-cost carriers such as Southwest and JetBlue in the States, along with easyJet and others in Europe, raised the stakes. For Boeing, an especially bad patch began in 1998, when British Airways, until then an unswervingly loyal Boeing customer, decided against the 737 and instead bought fifty-nine Airbus A320 and A319 aircraft, with options for fifty-nine more. (The A319 is a slightly smaller version of the A320.) “There was a massive press,” said Christopher Buckley, an Airbus executive who tracked the event from the start. “The announcement was the lead story on the front page of the International Herald Tribune, probably the only time in history that an aircraft order has been deemed the top news item of the day in a major worldwide newspaper.”5 The most closely involved figure from British Airways was John Patterson, a senior vice president.


pages: 386 words: 91,913

The Elements of Power: Gadgets, Guns, and the Struggle for a Sustainable Future in the Rare Metal Age by David S. Abraham

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3D printing, Airbus A320, carbon footprint, clean water, cleantech, commoditize, Deng Xiaoping, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, glass ceiling, global supply chain, information retrieval, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Internet of things, new economy, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, reshoring, Robert Metcalfe, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, South China Sea, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, telemarketer, Tesla Model S, thinkpad, upwardly mobile, uranium enrichment, Y2K

If you don’t think planes are high tech, consider that the wires connecting the electronic wizardry in just one Boeing 747 extend over 130 miles. But the electronics onboard are just the beginning. Planes over the past fifty years have shed steel, replacing it with composite materials and lighter metals like titanium. For example, the new Airbus A350 frame is 14 percent titanium compared to 6 percent in the older Airbus A320. The increasing use of titanium is expected to lead to a doubling of titanium’s use in just five years to 41,200 tons by 2016.30 The most complex materials are increasingly found in engines. The National Academy of Sciences notes in its report, Minerals, Critical Minerals, and the U.S. Economy, that the recent advancements in propulsion systems are only possible because of improvements in using the high-temperature properties of minor metals like cobalt, rhenium, and yttrium.


pages: 386 words: 91,913

The Elements of Power: Gadgets, Guns, and the Struggle for a Sustainable Future in the Rare Metal Age by David S. Abraham

3D printing, Airbus A320, carbon footprint, clean water, cleantech, commoditize, Deng Xiaoping, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, glass ceiling, global supply chain, information retrieval, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Internet of things, new economy, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, reshoring, Robert Metcalfe, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, South China Sea, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, telemarketer, Tesla Model S, thinkpad, upwardly mobile, uranium enrichment, Y2K

If you don’t think planes are high tech, consider that the wires connecting the electronic wizardry in just one Boeing 747 extend over 130 miles. But the electronics onboard are just the beginning. Planes over the past fifty years have shed steel, replacing it with composite materials and lighter metals like titanium. For example, the new Airbus A350 frame is 14 percent titanium compared to 6 percent in the older Airbus A320. The increasing use of titanium is expected to lead to a doubling of titanium’s use in just five years to 41,200 tons by 2016.30 The most complex materials are increasingly found in engines. The National Academy of Sciences notes in its report, Minerals, Critical Minerals, and the U.S. Economy, that the recent advancements in propulsion systems are only possible because of improvements in using the high-temperature properties of minor metals like cobalt, rhenium, and yttrium.


pages: 526 words: 158,913

Crash of the Titans: Greed, Hubris, the Fall of Merrill Lynch, and the Near-Collapse of Bank of America by Greg Farrell

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Airbus A320, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, bank run, banking crisis, bonus culture, call centre, Captain Sullenberger Hudson, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collateralized debt obligation, corporate governance, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, financial innovation, fixed income, glass ceiling, high net worth, Long Term Capital Management, mass affluent, Mexican peso crisis / tequila crisis, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Ronald Reagan, six sigma, sovereign wealth fund, technology bubble, too big to fail, US Airways Flight 1549, yield curve

The bank announced that it would move its earnings announcement up from inauguration day, January 20, to the next day, Friday, January 16. That evening, Ken Lewis held a conference call with his board of directors. The meeting was surreal. A few hours earlier, a Charlotte-bound U.S. Airways flight experienced engine trouble after taking off from LaGuardia Airport in New York. The captain, Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, made a split-second decision to ditch the airplane, an Airbus A320, in the Hudson River rather than take a chance on being able to get back to an airport. More than a dozen BofA employees were on the flight, heading back to Charlotte after a four-day workweek in New York. Miraculously, the plane landed intact on the Hudson and stayed afloat for hours, allowing rescue teams to get everyone out alive. Lewis assured the board that everyone was safe and out of harm’s way, and then began describing the final details of the government rescue package, which had been firmed up that week.


pages: 415 words: 123,373

Inviting Disaster by James R. Chiles

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Airbus A320, airline deregulation, crew resource management, cuban missile crisis, Exxon Valdez, Maui Hawaii, Milgram experiment, North Sea oil, Piper Alpha, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman: Challenger O-ring, risk tolerance

A modern cause for what at first appears to be machine madness is that the computer-driven system is in a different “mode” than the operator thinks it is. This was the case with Eastern Flight 401 before it crashed into the Everglades; the pilots thought the autopilot was keeping altitude, but the autopilot had given altitude control back to the pilots after someone inadvertently nudged the yoke. Several crashes with the Airbus A320 have seen pilots fighting the controls, with humans trying to land their aircraft when the machines wanted to climb the aircraft away from the airport. But it’s also true that airliners don’t crash very often, perhaps because people in a cockpit appreciate the precariousness of their position. For a long time, it was much easier for people working at chemical plants to forget the consequences of simple human error.


pages: 382 words: 120,064

Bank 3.0: Why Banking Is No Longer Somewhere You Go but Something You Do by Brett King

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3D printing, additive manufacturing, Airbus A320, Albert Einstein, Amazon Web Services, Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, asset-backed security, augmented reality, barriers to entry, bitcoin, bounce rate, business intelligence, business process, business process outsourcing, call centre, capital controls, citizen journalism, Clayton Christensen, cloud computing, credit crunch, crowdsourcing, disintermediation, en.wikipedia.org, fixed income, George Gilder, Google Glasses, high net worth, I think there is a world market for maybe five computers, Infrastructure as a Service, invention of the printing press, Jeff Bezos, jimmy wales, London Interbank Offered Rate, M-Pesa, Mark Zuckerberg, mass affluent, Metcalfe’s law, microcredit, mobile money, more computing power than Apollo, Northern Rock, Occupy movement, optical character recognition, peer-to-peer, performance metric, Pingit, platform as a service, QR code, QWERTY keyboard, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, RFID, risk tolerance, Robert Metcalfe, self-driving car, Skype, speech recognition, stem cell, telepresence, Tim Cook: Apple, transaction costs, underbanked, US Airways Flight 1549, web application

One year later, Facebook had 200 million users, twice the size of MySpace. In 2008 Facebook tried to buy the rapidly growing social network and microblogging service, Twitter, for $500 million.5 In the same year, Tumblr launched. On 15 January 2009, US Airways Flight 1549, flying from LaGuardia Airport in New York to Charlotte, North Carolina, crashed in the Hudson River six minutes after take-off. Both engines of the Airbus A320 were disabled due to birdstrike by a flock of Canadian geese during its climb out. At 3:31pm, the plane made an unpowered ditch landing in the Hudson River. At 3:33pm (two minutes later) Jim Hanrahan (Twitter handle @highfours) tweeted the following: In February 2008, in the run-up to the US presidential elections, John McCain raised US$11 million through campaign fundraisers6 to support his nomination.


pages: 413 words: 119,379

The Looting Machine: Warlords, Oligarchs, Corporations, Smugglers, and the Theft of Africa's Wealth by Tom Burgis

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Airbus A320, Berlin Wall, blood diamonds, BRICs, British Empire, central bank independence, clean water, colonial rule, corporate social responsibility, crony capitalism, Deng Xiaoping, Donald Trump, F. W. de Klerk, Gini coefficient, Livingstone, I presume, McMansion, megacity, offshore financial centre, oil shock, open economy, purchasing power parity, rolodex, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, South China Sea, sovereign wealth fund, structural adjustment programs, trade route, transfer pricing, upwardly mobile, urban planning, Washington Consensus, WikiLeaks, zero-sum game

It was a moment for patriotic self-congratulation. Guinea was still a case study in deprivation, but the ruling class had restored a little pride by resurrecting the national airline. There were speeches and a buffet. The German–Egyptian pilot, an alumnus of Thomas Cook Airlines, who had been brought in as chief executive of Air Guinée International, said a few words. So did the minister of transport. Although the new carrier’s fleet of Airbus A320s had been delayed by a few months, the minister explained, miniature replicas had been produced to allow the launch party to go ahead. Six months after the attempted assassination that had forced Dadis into exile the first competitive elections in Guinea’s history were days away, and only civilians would be competing. The frontrunners had all pledged to scrutinize – and perhaps rip up – the business deals the junta had struck.


pages: 410 words: 114,005

Black Box Thinking: Why Most People Never Learn From Their Mistakes--But Some Do by Matthew Syed

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Airbus A320, Alfred Russel Wallace, Arthur Eddington, Atul Gawande, Black Swan, British Empire, call centre, Captain Sullenberger Hudson, Checklist Manifesto, cognitive bias, cognitive dissonance, conceptual framework, corporate governance, creative destruction, credit crunch, crew resource management, deliberate practice, double helix, epigenetics, fear of failure, fundamental attribution error, Henri Poincaré, hindsight bias, Isaac Newton, iterative process, James Dyson, James Hargreaves, James Watt: steam engine, Joseph Schumpeter, Lean Startup, mandatory minimum, meta analysis, meta-analysis, minimum viable product, publication bias, quantitative easing, randomized controlled trial, selection bias, Silicon Valley, six sigma, spinning jenny, Steve Jobs, the scientific method, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, too big to fail, Toyota Production System, US Airways Flight 1549, Wall-E, Yom Kippur War

The speed of approach was so fast that the pilots had no chance to take evasive action. Two birds flew into the right engine and at least one more into the left. After a series of loud thuds, the plane seemed to come to a halt, followed by deathly silence. The engines had lost thrust. The pilots felt their pulses racing, their perception narrowing: the classic responses to danger. They were now 3,000 feet above New York in a 70-ton Airbus A320 with no power. They had to make a series of split-second decisions. They were offered a return to LaGuardia, then a rerouting to Teterboro, an airport in the New Jersey Meadowlands, nineteen miles away. Both options were rejected. The plane would not glide that far. It was dropping too fast. At 3:29 p.m. Sullenberger uttered the words that would create headlines around the world: “We’re going to be in the Hudson


pages: 598 words: 172,137

Who Stole the American Dream? by Hedrick Smith

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Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Airbus A320, airline deregulation, anti-communist, asset allocation, banking crisis, Bonfire of the Vanities, British Empire, business process, clean water, cloud computing, collateralized debt obligation, collective bargaining, commoditize, corporate governance, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, currency manipulation / currency intervention, David Brooks, Deng Xiaoping, desegregation, Double Irish / Dutch Sandwich, family office, full employment, global supply chain, Gordon Gekko, guest worker program, hiring and firing, housing crisis, Howard Zinn, income inequality, index fund, industrial cluster, informal economy, invisible hand, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Rogoff, Kitchen Debate, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, laissez-faire capitalism, late fees, Long Term Capital Management, low cost carrier, manufacturing employment, market fundamentalism, Maui Hawaii, mega-rich, mortgage debt, negative equity, new economy, Occupy movement, Own Your Own Home, Paul Samuelson, Peter Thiel, Plutonomy: Buying Luxury, Explaining Global Imbalances, Ponzi scheme, Powell Memorandum, Ralph Nader, RAND corporation, Renaissance Technologies, reshoring, rising living standards, Robert Bork, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, rolodex, Ronald Reagan, shareholder value, Shenzhen was a fishing village, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Steve Jobs, The Chicago School, The Spirit Level, too big to fail, transaction costs, transcontinental railway, union organizing, Unsafe at Any Speed, Vanguard fund, We are the 99%, women in the workforce, working poor, Y2K

With the union givebacks on wages and benefits and an infusion of new capital, United had a strong spurt in the second half of the 1990s. Stock, bought by union members for $22 a share, shot up to $90. But it turned out that those were phantom gains, way beyond the value of United’s profits. Even in good times, United had been struggling. It piled up a multibillion-dollar debt buying or leasing a fleet of new wide-bodied Boeing 747s and 777s and Airbus A320 airliners. It got into periodic fights with the powerful pilots union. In 2001, United ran a $3.8 billion operating loss. After the 9/11 terrorist attack in 2001, fear of flying panicked the American public. United lost more traffic and revenue than most carriers. By early 2002, it was deep in debt. It desperately needed big new bank loans to survive, and to get that money, United sought a government guarantee.


pages: 777 words: 186,993

Imagining India by Nandan Nilekani

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affirmative action, Airbus A320, BRICs, British Empire, business process, business process outsourcing, call centre, clean water, colonial rule, corporate governance, cuban missile crisis, deindustrialization, demographic dividend, demographic transition, Deng Xiaoping, digital map, distributed generation, farmers can use mobile phones to check market prices, full employment, ghettoisation, glass ceiling, global supply chain, Hernando de Soto, income inequality, informal economy, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), joint-stock company, knowledge economy, labour market flexibility, land reform, light touch regulation, LNG terminal, load shedding, Mahatma Gandhi, market fragmentation, mass immigration, Mikhail Gorbachev, Network effects, new economy, New Urbanism, open economy, Parag Khanna, pension reform, Potemkin village, price mechanism, race to the bottom, rent control, rolodex, Ronald Reagan, school vouchers, Silicon Valley, smart grid, special economic zone, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas L Friedman, Thomas Malthus, transaction costs, trickle-down economics, unemployed young men, upwardly mobile, urban planning, urban renewal, women in the workforce, working poor, working-age population

For Seshagiri and the other bureaucrats interested in nurturing India’s IT industry, overcoming the prevailing animosity to computers was all about making the right converts. “I knew from the beginning that we had to inoculate some politicians from IT opposition,” he says. In this, Seshagiri and the other IT-savvy bureaucrats were lucky to meet Rajiv Gandhi, who was much younger than other political leaders and just forty years old when he became prime minister. Trained as a pilot for the Airbus A320, Rajiv was generally unafraid of technology. “He was a tinkerer,” one bureaucrat who worked with him tells me. “He was always curious about how new technologies worked.” Rajiv’s attitude to the role of computers in governance was shaped early on by the Asian Games, which India hosted in 1982. Rather typically, the ministry of sports dragged its feet on the project, and six months before the Games nothing had been done.