Thursday, April 21, 2005

Did They Think This One Through?

My first real job, defined as a position with my major in the title, was at a company that applied coatings to fasteners used in commercial airliner construction. Through them I became familiar with Textron, perhaps the biggest player in the industry. I have a good deal of familiarity with the technologies involved in several fastener systems, high interference bolts, standard and blind rivets, locking collars, etc. The tech is pretty much tried and true, and there really aren't many ways to improve things.

And I am far from certain that adding microporcessors to fastening systems is an improvement. For small-scale parts I don't see a problem, but if these are going to be used on parts that are frequently removed and inspected, the a decent definition of mission criticality, then I am pretty damn certain that I don't want those coming apart during operation. I share the concern of the Core 77 author of the potential for hacking. A large number of fasteners would have to be accessible by a large number of controlling units, at least one per airport. Many locks with many keys equals lack of security. Who would need a bomb when you can make a plane disintegrate on its own. Each of the pieces would be intact, but that doesn't do it when the passengers need more than just the sum of the parts.

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