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Author Topic: Another plane missing  (Read 22169 times)
KallDrexx
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on: December 28, 2014, 09:53:12 AM

Another passenger plane with 162 has gone missing.   So far no wreckage or sign of the plane has been found on the first day of searching.

Some pilot analysis I've come across (random people on the internet so take it from what you will) showed air traffic controller pictures showing the flight going really slow and them wanting to climb from 36.3k feet to 38k feet to try and get above a really bad storm.  Speculation from them is that they might have tried to climb too high without going fast enough, hit the coffin corner, stalled, and didn't send a mayday as they were busy trying to recover out of the stall. 
luckton
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Reply #1 on: December 28, 2014, 10:12:20 AM

Can someone explain to me, in the year two-thousand fourteen of our lord Zeus, why we can't put an everlasting, always pinging GPS with an uninteruptable power supply and 48-72 hour battery backup on a goddamned plane, esp. after loosing the last two the way we did?

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Reply #2 on: December 28, 2014, 10:15:47 AM

To be fair, if the stall theory is correct a GPS wouldn't help unless the GPS is powerful enough to go through the whole ocean (and still in one piece).
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Reply #3 on: December 28, 2014, 11:45:31 AM

Can someone explain to me, in the year two-thousand fourteen of our lord Zeus, why we can't put an everlasting, always pinging GPS with an uninteruptable power supply and 48-72 hour battery backup on a goddamned plane, esp. after loosing the last two the way we did?
It's money spent on something with little (business) justification.

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Reply #4 on: December 28, 2014, 12:47:26 PM

Doesn't increase profits, bad idea.

It is still mind boggling how shit like this happens, though.

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calapine
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Reply #5 on: December 28, 2014, 02:10:53 PM

Can someone explain to me, in the year two-thousand fourteen of our lord Zeus, why we can't put an everlasting, always pinging GPS with an uninteruptable power supply and 48-72 hour battery backup on a goddamned plane, esp. after loosing the last two the way we did?

In a general sense I think 'losing' planes isn't an issue. MH 370 is an exception really.

For the plane in question: It had ADS-B, which is transmitting flight information (location and more) continuously.

Additionally ICAO rules mandate ELTs (Emergency Locator Transmitters). Those send a signal which is picked up by SAR satellites and are triggered by different situations (high G-forces, water contact). ELTs not working happened before though and there can be several reasons for this: damaged/destroyed during the crash, sinking with with the plane, etc...
« Last Edit: December 28, 2014, 02:13:29 PM by calapine »

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Ghambit
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Reply #6 on: December 28, 2014, 02:34:29 PM

Heh, ELTs arent even required anymore because they're old-school, rarely work, and the station has to be within range and monitored continuously.  Literally, it's a radio siren on channel 121.5.  You tune to the freq. and it makes noise. That's it.  It's supposed to go off at a certain g-force if you dont activate it manually.

The reason why big iron commercial aviation doesnt have common sense things like GPIRB and true flight tracking, is because of over-regulation.  It's the same issue with certified aircraft in general aviation... and is completely counterintuitive, yes.  Literally, you're forced to put unsafe, substandard shit in your aircraft because paperwork.   Things as silly as updated, power supplied, LED landing lights... can't install them, even if the certified one is a POS that'll get you killed at night.  Want to build a custom MFD nav system to go in your panel?  Should cost you $2000 to do (the price of a nice PC)... instead, it's gotta be Garmin and it's gonna cost you $40k.  And you cant install it yourself.

You've gotta realize, this airbus is pushin 30 yrs. old.  The tech. it was built on is even older.  Even if Airbus wanted to update them slightly, regulatory boards won't allow it without shittons of legal work and testing.  Especially if we're talkin an airframe modification, like would be required for a self-deploying dorsal GPIRB pod.

It's silly and fuckstupid.  And it's killing aviation quicker than fuel prices does.  Trust me on that.  

I mean really, these aircraft systems are coded in ANSI 'C.'    The most unsafe, glitchy, prone to error programming language known to man.  The DoD realized how shitty it was and poured billions into Ada and vhdl.  Did it make it to the commercial space?? Nope.  Everything is still C...   then a plane of Freescale engis. disappears.  Oh the irony.
« Last Edit: December 28, 2014, 03:12:39 PM by Ghambit »

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calapine
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Reply #7 on: December 28, 2014, 02:37:07 PM

Doesn't increase profits, bad idea.

It is still mind boggling how shit like this happens, though.

I have spent some time reading the investigations reports of airplane crashes recently and something that stands out how that due the built in safety margins and regulations the individual cases accident seem so unlikely/unlucky in retrospect.

It's not like a car crash where a single fault like forgetting to look 2 seconds in an intersection is enough to have someone ram you. The typical plane accident, whether technical or human error, is more like a chain, where it starts with a SOP or regulation being ignored, then a malfunctions happens (or the other way round), etc etc until you have a whole chain of contributing factors that all need to "go wrong" to result in the catastrophic outcome.

Which is why I think in the end plane travel is so safe.
« Last Edit: December 28, 2014, 03:01:59 PM by calapine »

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Lantyssa
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Reply #8 on: December 28, 2014, 09:40:08 PM

I mean really, these aircraft systems are coded in ANSI 'C.'    The most unsafe, glitchy, prone to error programming language known to man.
Huh?

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Reply #9 on: December 28, 2014, 09:59:40 PM

'C' is by no means a safety critical language.  Any credible comp. sci. phD will tell you this.  It's just none of the viable replacements have gained traction in the engineering-space, mostly due to job security.  The vast majority of systems onboard aircraft use embedded C, rather than something like Ada.  It's a mistake.  And there have been accidents and many near-misses because of it.  It's not easily managed (so when code is iterated, it's more easily broken) and errors that would be caught with other languages, aren't in C.

Anyways, I was just using it as an example at how slow regulated commercial air travel is at adopting tech. that's even 20 yrs old.   I mean, in every day gadgets sure... use embedded C to your heart's desire.  But, in something life or death??  No. Use something else.

Why do you think the DoD dumped many millions into Ada/Vhdl?  They don't screw around with their gear.

You don't hear on the news how many 'code-created' accidents and general snafus happen in aerospace.  It's staggeringly common.  The Airbus??  ran by computer.  using mostly freescale gear, coded in 'C.'    Ohhhhh, I see.

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Reply #10 on: December 28, 2014, 11:43:28 PM

I was going to post a screed, but  swamp poop sums up my reaction far more succinctly.

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Reply #11 on: December 29, 2014, 12:16:47 AM

You can post your long post, but this is not an argument you can win (cept to say my jargon sux, which it does).  I'd cite the source of what forms my opinion but I wont for privacy reasons.  He's pretty much "the guy" with regard to safety critical systems in aerospace.  He's had the highest possible clearance.  His wife?  a rockstar in her own right (cant say how).

Anyways, they actually vote on this stuff if you can imagine.  The vote to change a standard used in avionics systems requires a supermajority (if memory servers); it's a bunch of phD's meeting in some exotic european locale on the taxpayer dime.  Most argue and vote via proxy.  Nothing much ever changes.  Etc.

Point is there are layers upon layers of old-school, deeply ingrained trains of bureaucratic thought in aerospace.  It's tough to keep anything modernized, hence why we can't locate a jumbo jet in the 21st century.

As for 8051, there was chatter the plane may have been traveling too slow, but it's false info. since it's derived from the radar track (speed over ground) not the planes airspeed.  I think the number was 383kts; which is too slow at near 40k ft obviously (air is too thin), the plane would be close to a stall.  Odds are the missing airspeed hit the plane on the nose via the storm; likely an updraft, as contact was lost inside the dense overcast (where the air rises dramatically).  The caveat?  When that gust abates the plane is left with no lift and falls out of the sky.  Since they were in a bank, the stall speed also increases, making loss of control/lift more likely.  A theory.

There will definitely be a pilot error component in this.  Too much risk with the weather was taken, ala Air France.  Also, if you follow the tracks of the majority of the traffic at that time, you'll see most of them avoiding the area 8051 flew into, save like one other plane already diverting and already at a higher altitude.
« Last Edit: December 29, 2014, 12:47:29 AM by Ghambit »

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Torinak
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Reply #12 on: December 29, 2014, 01:50:55 AM

You can post your long post, but this is not an argument you can win (cept to say my jargon sux, which it does).  I'd cite the source of what forms my opinion but I wont for privacy reasons.  He's pretty much "the guy" with regard to safety critical systems in aerospace.  He's had the highest possible clearance.  His wife?  a rockstar in her own right (cant say how).

There are no magic programming languages that make things safe. Some languages make certain kinds of errors harder to cause, or easier to catch, but none can protect against a bad or confused programmer.  I have (close) second-hand experience with some of the really crappy mission-critical code written in "safe" languages, and in really excellent mission-critical code written in "bad" languages. One horror story involves hundreds of deaths from code written in a "safe" language, where a programmer didn't understand the poorly-specified algorithm--the device in question went farther from its safe operating parameters when things went wrong, instead of moving back into its safe parameter range. No language can protect against that kind of thing.

You can build incredibly reliable systems in any programming language, but it gets very very expensive. I'm sure the cost-benefit analysis run by the aviation industry comes out on the side of paying for the occasional mass death instead of spending the really big bucks for top-quality code in any language.
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Reply #13 on: December 29, 2014, 04:15:25 AM

You can argue for use of Ada and 'safety critical' programming languges for these systems all you want, thats fine.  Though as Torinak points out, it really doesn't gaurantee anything.

But his line here:
I mean really, these aircraft systems are coded in ANSI 'C.'    The most unsafe, glitchy, prone to error programming language known to man.  
Is verifiably retarded.  Any credible Comp Sci PhD will tell you.


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Reply #14 on: December 29, 2014, 08:43:27 AM

Seriously people, think about the source.

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Reply #15 on: December 29, 2014, 09:32:53 AM

Things as silly as updated, power supplied, LED landing lights... can't install them, even if the certified one is a POS that'll get you killed at night.  Want to build a custom MFD nav system to go in your panel?  Should cost you $2000 to do (the price of a nice PC)... instead, it's gotta be Garmin and it's gonna cost you $40k.  

Come on man, you can always go the Experimental Airworthiness Certificate route.  Oh ho ho ho. Reallllly?

Seriously though, the resistance to modernizing nearly anything in aviation was startling. When I was involved in it Korean War ere guys ran everything, and they ran it like it was still the Korean War. It wouldn't suprise me if the only thing that's changed is that you can change the word Korean with Vietnam.

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Reply #16 on: December 29, 2014, 09:36:19 AM

Yeah, I know.  He seems to forget he's on a board full of people who actually use these languages.

Shitty programmers will write shitty code.  It doesn't matter the language.  C isn't a bad language, it just shows someone's not good at writing code quicker than something you think is 'safe'.  It's not a fault of the language, it's a fault of oversight.

(Might I point out the loss of a probe because one side used metric and one side used Imperial measurements?  Neither was wrong, oversight just failed.)

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Reply #17 on: December 29, 2014, 10:49:47 AM

one side used metric and one side used Imperial measurements?  Neither was wrong,

I'm sorry, but anyone using Imperial measurements these days is just wrong.  why so serious?

And yes, I live in the UK, where we still use pints and miles and our local butcher has all their meat priced as "£x per 454g".  swamp poop

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Reply #18 on: December 29, 2014, 11:01:06 AM

Maybe not the most brilliant thing to do, but not 'wrong'.

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Reply #19 on: December 29, 2014, 01:36:22 PM

Obviously the skill of the programmer is paramount, but one could use the same argument when comparing a wooden hammer with a titanium one.  It's not all about the tools, but it sure as hell is important.  So when the guy who writes the standards that we programmers on this board use, tells me 'C sux for this' I tend to listen and not retort with "but but... it all depends on the programmer!"  Really??  Y'dont say?   Ohhhhh, I see.   His retort after saying that would be "listen, you wanna do this right... take this course and don't screw around."

This is a pretty binary thing.  Something either works well/best, or it doesn't.  If it doesn't, it shouldn't be in your safety (or mission) critical system.  As said though, industry would rather deal with the people dying rather than keep things updated.  /shrug

The metric vs. imperial thing was a case of using two contractors for telemetry.  One was NASA and the other Lockheed I believe.  Lockheed still uses imperial.  The issue was a macro (if memory serves); something like #define GRAVITY 9.86.   So when lockheed's part of the code called on it, it was interpreted in imperial.  Makes my point again... a contractor like Lockheed, still uses Imperial in a lot of their data.  Crazy.

Boeing is switching to Ada btw (they use it mostly in their military contracts).  The heavyweights now all use Catia for their desgin-work, and so forth.  But there are still a lot of companies using legacy tools.  I've seen NASA pretty much use everything.  They just cherrypick people as needed for each particular tool (solidworks, ada, vhdl, embedded C, etc.)

Btw, Ada programmers are instantly employable after undergrad.  C programmers?  notsomuch.  Again, this info. comes from the source, I do not make this up.  Moral of story, if you're interested in Aerospace and want a surefire job, learn Ada.  It's not widely used, but it's desperately needed.

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Reply #20 on: December 29, 2014, 02:15:51 PM

Sometimes a wooden hammer is best for the job.

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Reply #21 on: December 29, 2014, 02:35:31 PM

Fox News says it was the metric system and non-American pilots.

http://youtu.be/HPZOodZoxzc

Tuned in, immediately get to watch cringey Ubisoft talking head offering her deepest sympathies to the families impacted by the Orlando shooting while flanked by a man in a giraffe suit and some sort of "horrifically garish neon costumes through the ages" exhibit or something.  We need to stop this fucking planet right now and sort some shit out. -Kail
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Reply #22 on: December 29, 2014, 03:15:35 PM

Boeing is switching to Ada btw (they use it mostly in their military contracts).  

Airbus apparently too, at least for certain components. A quick Google shows the ADIRU code for the A350 is written in ADA 2005 with 'GNAT Pro High-Integrity Edition' serving as development environment/toolset. Different source says the A340 Flight Warning System is done in ADA as well (no version listed).

For the A320 (and A340) the FBW systems seems to be written in something in never heard of: Lustre.
« Last Edit: December 29, 2014, 03:23:27 PM by calapine »

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Reply #23 on: December 29, 2014, 04:27:49 PM

Fox News says it was the metric system

And I'm proved right.

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Reply #24 on: December 29, 2014, 07:03:54 PM

Boeing is switching to Ada btw (they use it mostly in their military contracts).  

Airbus apparently too, at least for certain components. A quick Google shows the ADIRU code for the A350 is written in ADA 2005 with 'GNAT Pro High-Integrity Edition' serving as development environment/toolset. Different source says the A340 Flight Warning System is done in ADA as well (no version listed).

For the A320 (and A340) the FBW systems seems to be written in something in never heard of: Lustre.


That's interesting.

Yah, while the talking heads on CNN sabre rattle for change, in the background things are changing, it's just damned slow.  DoD pumps $11m/year into Ada development (after a quick google); not sure how long they've been doing this after the 1st iteration, but they definitely are trying to upstart embedded C... now that most systems have the power to make up the speed difference.  A nanosecond in a control system for a rocketplane makes all the difference.

My school is teaching it this semester (as a 2nd tier comp. sci./eng course) after a heated argument between admin. and my prof. (the guy I talked about earlier).  They cant tell him no, obviously.  What he says, goes.  Last kid he referred after teaching Ada was employed as an undergrad w/o even looking over the resume.  Irony:  This same professor had a race condition in his A-4 Skyhawk (in the environmental control system) that caused a cockpit fire on takeoff.  The heater kept running until it melted a bunch of stuff.  He tried to eject in the pattern and instead only the canopy blew. He still landed the plane and ended up receiving a commendation.   awesome, for real

Our homebuilt project is using C in all of the parasitic systems because we just don't have enough engineers knowledgeable in anything else.  They embed python for fun on the side though.  The main systems are all proprietary, specifically the nav-com, which is all-glass Garmin (who use their own script I'm sure)...  they donated the rig obviously; but we're not allowed to touch it since it's 'certified.'  Cant take rates off of it either, so imo it's kind of pointless (another argument, but hey... free).  Fuck if I have time to play with that plane though; my brain near melted last semester as it is.  Errr, melted more than it already is (as you guys know).        swamp poop
« Last Edit: December 29, 2014, 07:05:40 PM by Ghambit »

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Reply #25 on: December 29, 2014, 09:03:53 PM

I can't speak for aerospace, but in the rest of the industry, platform, systems, and embedded engineering remains primarily C/C++ for any heavy lifting.  Most complex systems are built in layers and the higher layers often make use of languages with stronger guarantees and safetynets, but as has been pointed out, this is not magical proof against bad code, just a way of avoiding certain classes of failures -- which is not valueless, but is hardly a silver bullet.

Beyond hiring skilled people, the biggest impact on software quality is good engineering practices -- sane source control and issue tracking, code reviews, reasonable test coverage, etc, etc. 

Hiring someone off of a single requirement match without even an interview smells of desperation and an extremely limited candidate pool more than anything else.  One thing I've noticed in a lot of military/aerospace arenas is that the single most critical requirement for hiring is security clearance, and once you've narrowed the pool to people who have (preferably, so you can put them in the role fastest) or can obtain a clearance, you've seriously narrowed the pool and (based on conversations with folks in these roles) the quality bar is simply not as high for the most part.

The industry is certainly overdue for a systems language that provides stronger safeties but maintains the flexibility of C.  Go and Rust seem like strong candidates, though neither is perfect.  I'm skeptical of Ada seeing any serious uptake, outside of environments where it's mandated.  In 20 years of building OSes and embedded systems, working with systems engineers from various backgrounds, and interviewing and hiring a bunch, I've never once had Ada come up in a professional context.
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Reply #26 on: December 30, 2014, 07:38:32 AM

Supposedly they've found wreckage this morning.

http://rt.com/news/218623-airasia-plane-missing-wreckage/

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Reply #27 on: December 30, 2014, 11:52:49 AM

Last kid he referred after teaching Ada was employed as an undergrad w/o even looking over the resume.
So the kid's quality as a programmer didn't matter, just that he knew ADA.  Yep, that's the guy I want writing my life-critical software.

My problem isn't that you're trying to say one language is better than another for certain applications.  It's that you act like it's both orders of magnitude better and that personal competence doesn't play an important role.

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Reply #28 on: December 30, 2014, 11:59:53 AM

Plane has been found.  Chain goes thus (through the live feed):

-Just before I went to bed last night they got a report from two fisherman who'd seen a fireball and something and go down just off Kalimantan.
-Search focused there overnight (EST)
-Late last night they began to find debris (bodies) after seeing the plane's shadow on the bottom. (per a rescuer's report)

If you've never dove a wreck before; large wrecks underwater can be seen from the air/surface in clear and/or relatively shallow water.  It doesn't completely jive with the fisherman's report of the breakup and rapid descent, so I'm guessing the wings tore off (causing the inflight fire), and the rest of the craft descended mostly intact.   Hopefully, most of the passengers passed out from hypoxia and g-force before expiring.

I'm half wondering if the plane might've gotten hit by positive lightning or a sprite; given the nasty thunderstorm they were dealing with and the reports of lightning developing.

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Reply #29 on: December 30, 2014, 12:25:08 PM

Last kid he referred after teaching Ada was employed as an undergrad w/o even looking over the resume.
So the kid's quality as a programmer didn't matter, just that he knew ADA.  Yep, that's the guy I want writing my life-critical software.

My problem isn't that you're trying to say one language is better than another for certain applications.  It's that you act like it's both orders of magnitude better and that personal competence doesn't play an important role.

Huh?  Of course his quality mattered, hence why he was recommended in the first place.  In reality, if he got reco'd by my prof. (who's also had himself 100's of engineers under his control) and knew the language they needed, wtf is the point of a resume?  It's not even needed.  You seem to think that people still magically get hired via resume; that's not the way the world usually works.  I wipe my arse with people's resumes; they're only useful up to inquiry.  They mean next to nothing and definitely don't necessarily say how good of an employee (let alone a programmer) someone is.

And where in there do I say competence doesn't play an important role?   Obviously it does.  But knowing the actual tool that designers want is the first thing that'll stick out on your supposed resume, no matter how much implied competency you have.  If I'm a Boeing HR person and you don't know Ada (and I need a systems manager for a govt. contract that stipulates Ada), you're not gonna have a good shot to get hired.  Period.

Take the info. and use it how you want, whatever.  I'm just the messenger.  I gave you an easy way into Aerospace as a programmer.  Use it or not.  But dont pontificate irrelevant overarching philosophies to try an create an argument where none exists.  Learn C and throw your resume in with all the other muggles if you'd like and whine about competency all you want.  /shrug      The industry wants Ada developers (for the reasons I've already stated).  There aren't many.  Do the math.

This is the same thing that happened during the Catia transition.  Everyone balked, no one wanted to learn it, and so forth.  "We like AutoCad, what about that new Solidworks thingie, waaah waaah."  Meanwhile companies that adopted it shot lightyears ahead of the competition, and guys with a semester of training were getting $85k jobs as entry level drafters.  Now they teach it at AE schools.   Ohhhhh, I see.

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Reply #30 on: December 30, 2014, 01:17:11 PM

So, anyone ready to get on a plane in Malayasia any time soon? I think I would rather coat myself in chum and swim for it at this point.

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Reply #31 on: December 30, 2014, 01:41:58 PM

Here's something that'll keep you off the plane even more:
Many of that regions pilots have to pay for their time in the right seat.  I shit you not.  I saw one listing that said you had to pay $96k USD for 150 flight hours before you could get on the payroll.  Essentially, there's no ladder to climb - it's Pay2Win.

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Reply #32 on: December 30, 2014, 03:29:39 PM


So, anyone ready to get on a plane in Malayasia any time soon? I think I would rather coat myself in chum and swim for it at this point.
Well I was thinking about bidding on a position at the US Consulate in Surabaya (the place this plane took off from) after my happy fun time in Ebolastan.....

"My great-grandfather did not travel across four thousand miles of the Atlantic Ocean to see this nation overrun by immigrants.  He did it because he killed a man back in Ireland. That's the rumor."
-Stephen Colbert
WayAbvPar
Moderator
Posts: 19116


Reply #33 on: December 30, 2014, 04:21:09 PM


So, anyone ready to get on a plane in Malayasia any time soon? I think I would rather coat myself in chum and swim for it at this point.
Well I was thinking about bidding on a position at the US Consulate in Surabaya (the place this plane took off from) after my happy fun time in Ebolastan.....

If you survive to retirement age it will be a minor miracle. Or you will get posted to some modern Western city and get hit by a bus.

When speaking of the MMOG industry, the glass may be half full, but it's full of urine. HaemishM

Always wear clean underwear because you never know when a Tory Government is going to fuck you.- Ironwood

Who the hell taught you how to write? Fuck, that sentence is like internet transmitted face-attacking knives. Jesus. schild
NowhereMan
Terracotta Army
Posts: 6312


Reply #34 on: December 30, 2014, 05:28:45 PM

So... I've got a flight back to Kuala Lumpur on the 1st. It was nice knowing you guys I guess.

 ACK!

"Look at my car. Do you think that was bought with the earnest love of geeks?" - HaemishM
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