Interesting having posted twice about the Air France A330 disaster (including just yesterday) to see this Slashdot story (via Johan on Facebook) about a Quantas A330 problem around the same time, 3 years ago. The comment thread is interesting, kinda reinforces my comment of yesterday:
A. … the number of [computer bug] accidents will likely still be fewer than those caused by human drivers.
B. Which is actually [why] Airbus relies on sensor input over the “pilot”. Boeing believes in the opposite. I’m inclined to believe Airbus in that the majority of accidents are human error over computer error.
C. The problem with aviation accidents is the relatively small sample size. With cars [in the Google auto-driving story] there will be much more data points.
I guessed B’s point yesterday, though I have no specific knowledge. The point is really this, fly-by-wire or not, pilots and the automation technology together form one complex “system” – the behaviour of one affects the other. The people and the software are both subject to (imperfect) testing and validation. Even with fly-by-wire, the total system (including pilot behaviour and psychology) can be designed with greater total inherent safety – fewer failure modes that lead to loss of control.
I’m a big fan of Airbus, but these are, as I said, scary problems.