UPDATED: JSF is Cleared for Takeoff as of Tuesday Morning
The software glitch that led to the grounding of all variants of the Joint Strike Fighter fleet last Thursday should be fixed very soon, allowing planes to take to the air tomorrow, Pentagon officials say.
The problem, detected in the lab on the ground, resided with code that controls the engine's three fuel boost pumps. "The minor software modification will correctly align fuel boost pump signal sequencing," Pentagon spokeswoman Cheryl Irwin said in a statement. The glitch was not insignificant. "It could possibly trigger a shutdown of all three boost pumps, potentially further causing engine stall. Such a simultaneous shutdown is unlikely, but prudence dictated a suspension of operations until the fuel boost pump signal timing was corrected."
The ability to fix this sort of problem must have grizzled veteran pilots grinning. In the old days a problem like this would probably have been found the hard way -- in flight -- and someone might have had to eject or make a risky emergency landing, or worse. As it is in today's software-driven flight environment, this appears at this point to be a potentially significant but easily fixable problem.