And time can do so much


The Russian shooting team arrived a few days before July 10th, the start date for their competition in the 1908 Olympics in London.  There is no record of their results because July 10th for the Russians was actually July 23rd in London and they had completely missed their event.  Most of Europe moved to the Gregorian calendar in 1582; the UK changed calendar in 1752; but Russia did not do so until the Revolution in 1917.  You might have thought that getting the date right was something so basic that it would be hard to get wrong.


The F-22 Raptor came into service with the USAF in December 2005.  It was described as a “first-of-a-kind multi-mission fighter aircraft that combines stealth, super cruise, advanced manoeuvrability and integrated avionics to make it the world’s most capable combat aircraft”.  Each F-22 cost over $150 million.


In February 2007, six F-22s were flying from Hawaii to Japan accompanied by a refuelling tanker.  When they crossed the international date line, all their navigation systems shut down together with a lot of their comms.  Whoever programmed the F-22 either misunderstood or was unaware that when you cross the international date line from east to west, you jump forward 24 hours.  It is not clear exactly what happened – the USAF refused to say – but it seems that the planes’ systems freaked out when time suddenly jumped a day and they must have decided that shutting everything down was the safest thing to do. The planes could still fly but could not navigate and they ended up turning around and following their tanker aircraft back to Hawaii.


The sheer complexity of the new, super-sophisticated plane – newness and complexity always enhance risk – seemed to result in something very simple and basic being left out, and certainly not tested before the plane went into military service.  Complexity can only be constructed on top of basics that are sound.

Data Source:Humble Pi, Matt Parker

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