Re: A Day in Technical Documentation History

Subject: Re: A Day in Technical Documentation History
From: "William Sherman" <bsherman77 -at- embarqmail -dot- com>
To: "Bee Hanson" <beelia -at- pacbell -dot- net>, <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Sat, 28 May 2016 18:35:11 -0400

Once upon a time at McDonnell, there was a saying: "No one ever died in a McDonnell built spacecraft."

Every craft was built like Mr. Mac would fly it. This is one reason the one-wing F-15 was able to fly back to base and land. (That and the pilot didn't have any idea he was missing an entire wing, just thought it was severely damaged.)

I don't think that same emphasis exists at Boeing.



Most miss that the value of documentation isn't in how it makes the lives easier for customers and users. It is how it protects the company for users who use it wrongly.

If companies viewed this document not as the $500 item they sell it for, or the $1000 of free support they don't have to give away, but as the protection against the $10,000,000 lawsuit, maybe they would think better of publications departments.


----- Original Message -----
From: Bee Hanson
To: William Sherman ; techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Sent: Thursday, May 26, 2016 1:17 AM
Subject: Re: A Day in Technical Documentation History


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



On Wednesday, May 25, 2016 7:41 PM, William Sherman <bsherman77 -at- embarqmail -dot- com> wrote:




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

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