16 bits should be enough for anybody

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/. points to a Cincinatti Post article explaining what happened in the Comair crash:
The computer system was run by SBS International, a subsidiary of Boeing.

The SBS Crew Check system tracks all the details of where each crew member is scheduled and keeps a log of every scheduling change. "This probably seemed like plenty to the designers, but when the storms hit last week, they caused many, many crew reassignments, and the value of 32,000 was exceeded," he said. The computer system was run by SBS International, a subsidiary of Boeing.

The SBS Crew Check system tracks all the details of where each crew member is scheduled and keeps a log of every scheduling change.

Tom Carter, a computer consultant with Clover Link Systems of Los Angeles, said the application has a hard limit of 32,000 changes in a single month.

"This probably seemed like plenty to the designers, but when the storms hit last week, they caused many, many crew reassignments, and the value of 32,000 was exceeded," he said.

Not exactly what I'd call a graceful failure.

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