Re: A Day in Technical Documentation History

Subject: Re: A Day in Technical Documentation History
From: Ken Poshedly <poshedly -at- bellsouth -dot- net>
To: "Janoff, Steven" <Steven -dot- Janoff -at- hologic -dot- com>, "techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>, Rick Lippincott <rjl6955 -at- gmail -dot- com>, Bee Hanson <beelia -at- pacbell -dot- net>
Date: Fri, 27 May 2016 20:05:45 +0000 (UTC)

Steven,
You're exactly correct. I can't speak for certain if a temperature range was stated in any specification for the o-rings, but yes, one or more of the engineers stated quite clearly their fears that the ambient temperature (around freezing) would quite possibly negatively affect the o-rings.
A show on TV around the time of the anniversary of the Challenger incident showed how the o-rings in those boosters were situated and how they were supposed to normally function.
But they didn't.
And the final analysis was that the effect of the outside ambient temperature is what led to the disaster.
Except that it was really a "political" decision on the part of the NASA higher-ups to not disappoint the President, but instead to launch as originally scheduled. I don't blame him, but the I do blame the NASA administrators.
An NPR radio segment on "Morning Edition" (or was it "All Things Considered") featured the now very elderly engineer who was the really vocal one and how HE was just about despondent that no one listened to him and all those lives were lost. It took the current set of higher-ups to tell him in no uncertain terms that it was NOT his fault. At his now very-advanced age, he now feels a little bit better.
So where were all of you the day it happened? I was at my desk when a coworker told me about it. I was almost two years into my first tech-writing job for a computer accessories company here in Atlanta. This was after 10 years as a newspaper/publications writer/editor up north.

-- Ken in Atlanta


On Friday, May 27, 2016 3:44 PM, "Janoff, Steven" <Steven -dot- Janoff -at- hologic -dot- com> wrote:


What if the plane's computer system fails or the digitized manuals otherwise become inaccessible? No paper backup? (Might be rare but you'd think as a failsafe...)

Also, anybody remember what happened with the Challenger shuttle and the O-rings? I think this story was circulated a while back (at least once -- too lazy to search). Was the documentation at fault in any way? I remember there was an internal whistleblower in Morton Thiokol who had warned against the very situation that happened (launching in cold weather and failure of the O-rings, right?).

Thanks,

Steve

On Thursday, May 26, 2016 3:24 AM, Rick Lippincott wrote:

Bee Hanson said:
>My team's 40,000+ pages of documentation were in the cockpit...

Good placement. Sounds a bit more convenient than on the C-5, where (when they were still paper) only manuals directly related to flight were in the cockpit. The rest of the ones they carried were on a pair of deck-mounted racks immediately aft of the second bunkroom, forward of the first galley.

(And for those of you not familiar with the C-5, I am not making this up.)

Last time I was up in that area was a couple of years ago, the racks are still there but empty. It's all digital now.

--Rick Lippincott


On 5/26/16, Bee Hanson <beelia -at- pacbell -dot- net> wrote:
> I worked for MDC in the late 80s, not for the DC-10, but for the C-17,
> which is still flying.
> My team's 40,000+ pages of documentation were in the cockpit, which by
> now they have certainly digitized. But it's such a huge cargo plane
> that extra weight would hardly have mattered.
> I don't believe any of those planes ever crashed (after first flight),
> but I can't take credit for it. The whole program was run by the DoD -
> a military project that was apparently successful.
> Who woulda thunk it.
> Bee
>
>Â Â On Wednesday, May 25, 2016 7:41 PM, William Sherman
> <bsherman77 -at- embarqmail -dot- com> wrote:
>
>
>Â Unfortunately, history is often created by incredibly sad or horrible
> events. Today in 1979, that pretty much describes it. American
> Airlines Flight 191 crashed after take off at O'Hare International
> Airport in Chicago. A total of 273 people lost their lives as a
> result, the deadliest aviation accident in the US.
>
> A coworker was only a couple of miles from the airport on that day and
> saw the smoke all rise up when it happened.He says he will never forget it.
>
> How this ties to technical documentation is that it saved the company
> that built that plane, a McDonnell Douglas DC-10. Initially blamed as
> a poor design and as such, all liability would come on McDonnell
> Douglas, it was found that MDC had fully documented the correct method
> of removing and installing the wing engines and that American Airlines
> and others were using an unauthorized shortcut. As such, MDC was not held responsible.
>
> Hopefully, your documentation will never be tested under such horrible
> conditions, but please make sure it will stand up to such scrutiny.

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Follow-Ups:

References:
Flare-only shop?: From: Nancy Allison
A Day in Technical Documentation History: From: William Sherman
Re: A Day in Technical Documentation History: From: Bee Hanson
Re: A Day in Technical Documentation History: From: Rick Lippincott
RE: A Day in Technical Documentation History: From: Janoff, Steven

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