The most advanced fighter jet in the world, the software-stuffed Lockheed F-22 Raptor, turned out not be so advanced when it crossed the international dateline flying westward for the first time early last month. Somewhere in its complicated bowels a routine noted that the local time really ought to switch from today to yesterday, and on being told that it appeared to be a in a time machine, all the rest of the software on the plane decided that the best thing would be to crash. Speaking to CNN, retired US Air Force major general Donald Shepperd explained the Snafu in military terms: “At the international date line, whoops, all systems dumped and when I say all systems, I mean all systems, their navigation, part of their communications, their fuel systems. They were - they could have been - in real trouble”. Fortunately all eight affected aircraft were able to limp home using old-fashioned eyeballs - following a tanker aircraft back to base.
Still, it could have been worse. According to software risks expert Peter Neumann, code in the older F-16 Falcon would have made that aircraft flip over and insist on flying upside-down on crossing the equator, had the error not been caught during testing.
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