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  • 32

Automation in the air dulls pilot skill

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Safety and industry officials worry that there will be more deadly airline accidents traced to pilots who have lost their hands-on instincts as planes become ever more reliant on . . . (flightaware.com) 更多...

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wendellsmith1964
Wendell Smith 0
I posted this story first but it seems mine has been deleted. Hmmmmm.
nbpilot
Randy Sarske 0
I blogged about this very topic 2 years ago. There are pros and cons to automation in the cockpit. Read my thoughts here: http://aviation-digest.blogspot.com/2009/08/are-smarter-airplanes-making-dumber.html
dmanuel
dmanuel 0
Does she want to bring back hand-flown ADF approches to keep pilots sharp? Do you think (JOAN LOWY, Associated Press - appears to have no FAA airmen certicates) she brings a wealth of information to this subject?
davysims
David Sims 0
I agree totally. It is a psychological issue, one cannot stay alert after hours of boredom typical of most airline flights. I don't think it is making pilots dumber by any means, but flying on autopilot for hours, then having to re-engage the brain for the last 10 minutes of the flight is difficult. On top of that, it is the most challenging and dangerous part of any flight.
tbpera
Tom Pera 0
It's called the "head down syndrome" where the flight crew is trying to reprogram the computers instead of watching the instruments - the basic flight instruments - give me an old military pilot every time - don't like these youngsters in the left seat who haven't had "upset" training and forget to fly the airplane -- look at Sully's success landing in the Hudson River - he looked out the window, monitored basic flight instruments, and flew the airplane - it was an Airbus, too. Also, at altitude flight crew often having personal discussions... inattention -- been there...
preacher1
preacher1 0
I personally think it will get worse before it gets better. Every blog and comment string that has came out in the last few months has touched on this. The Automation is like anything new, it is pushed out as far as it can go until limits or problems are discovered and that is about where we are now. Being from the old school, I think it is nice to have some of the mundane tasks automated but the pilot needs to fly the plane rather than program a computer. I personally think it is ascenine to turn on the AP at 1000' but that's just me. Full glass is a nice feature across the panel but some steam for the basic instruments wouldn't hurt a thing. Our reliance should be in our own ability, not that of a system. As I said, a system should be there to assist us, not replace us.
alistairm
alistairm 0
You can see this kind of thing happening in the car industry as well. One technology that stands out there, is the self-park system. I am sure that the engineers and car manufacturers think that this is great for marketing and think it is innovative - it is. Though, when people start to solely rely on the park-assist system to parallel park, they will lose their learned skill of parallel parking. What will happen when that system craps out? People won't be parking anymore or will at least have trouble doing it by themselves. With the airline industry, the same thing is occurring. They think that all this technology is great. It helps market the product and it helps sell the product. Airlines may say, "we have the most advanced aircraft", which will also attract people to fly with them. However, I think the pilot is forgotten in all of this. The man/woman who will be flying the plane, seems to be left out of the equation.
preacher1
preacher1 0
Whole lot of "what ifs" here. As I said earlier, it will really be interesting.
JD345
JD345 0
I guess everything has to accommodate the lowest common denominator these days. What starts out as a convenience for the MOST skilled people in a particular demographic turns out to be a crutch for the LEAST skilled people in a particular demographic.

Like ABS or traction control in cars... it starts out saving you from having to pump the brakes while sliding, or modulate the throttle while the wheels are spinning... but now it's just a crutch so every idiot can hammer on the throttle and the brakes without giving a passing thought to what the wheels are actually doing. Yes... let's try to eliminate as much skill as possible from everything.

Computers break... not in the same way as something mechanical, but they still break. Electrical problems in cars are hard enough to solve... an and "airplane" these days isn't much more than wiring stuffed into a large aluminum pipe.
evbutler
Ev Butler 0
Back in the late 1950s, we wrestled the USAF 707s from Guam to DaNang twice a week. The last crate that I flew was a Citation 750, a much smaller plane, but it's avionics were like something out of Star Wars compared to the 1950s flight deck. We paid attention and flew the plane or we died. Back then, we didn't get our first flying hours in a simulator. It was the real thing from day one. No GPS, no LORAN, just a sextant and star maps for navigation. No voices coming out of speakers calling "retard" or "pull up". No auto-land. Yet we lived through those primitive days and I think it made us military jocks more attentive. I like the modern avionics but I really think they should be used sparingly. Too much reliance on them is not good. Yet, the airlines requires pilots to utilize them. I agree that pilots lose their skills by over-use of automation.
rick737
richard weiss 0
How can a young pilot learn the basics when their first experience is in a Cessna 172 equiped with GNS 1000. From day one they have more automation than most older pilots saw until they got to the big leagues. Let's go back to basic flying skills for the first 200hrs. Let's encourage hand flying the aircraft when safety allows. Install Angle of Attack indicators on all aircraft and teach pilots how to use it. My last training events at the airlines treated manually flying the aircraft like an emergency proceedure. With the skill sets being taught our younger pilots, that may not be far from true.
FedExCargoPilot
You have to admit with automation the skies have became safer, but no hurt in doing extra stall practice for airline pilots.
evbutler
Ev Butler 0
Off the subject a bit: We cargo guys don't have to worry about pax complaints.
preacher1
preacher1 0
No, but you still need to know how to fly the plane, Ev.lol.
InDaBack
David Kain 0
Hahaha @ Ev, its not the most 'glamourous' job but you never hear a pallet of boxes complain about the food, or the temperature, or feeling sick, or.... blah blah.
evbutler
Ev Butler 0
Never!

I have been out of the loop since I retired 20 years ago. Did a bit of corporate flying in a Citation 750 and a King Air B90 after retirement. A Class A medical took me out of the business. I loved it while I was in it but all things must end some time. Corporate customers aren't as bad as the "cattle drive". They also tip well.
organfreak
This article perpetuates the assumption (AF 447) that the nose-up inputs recorded by by the flight data recorder were made by the pilot. This has been in no way established as fact. Having read several analyses online written by actual 330 drivers, it's quite clear that these inputs could have been made by the airplane, not the PF. There is extreme pressure from Airbus (and this wouldn't be the first time) to game the results of the final report to blame the pilots. The jury is out and the trial may be rigged. Me, I'm staying OFF of Airbuses.
preacher1
preacher1 0
Scott: in all the different comments here and other threads, you are the first one that I personally have come across that has proffered this idea and you are 100% correct, both on the fact that the plane could have done it and about the pressure from Airbus. Dead men tell no tales. That being said though, wasn't there something verbal on one of the recorders that they called it, and as the captain came back in, didn't he call for nose down? Im not sure. There has been so much put out on 447 it's hard to sort sometimes; kinda like what they were fighting in the cockpit.
organfreak
Thanks Wayne, and yes, I realize there is some verbal evidence that they were confused and possibly manually pulling noseup.That scenario seems almost unbelievable though, doesn't it? The question that is begged, so far, is, just WHO or WHAT made that input? Here's a great article, IMHO, by a 330 flyer - I have no link, but I copied it from Patrick Smith's site.
--------------------------------------
"We know the airplane stalled, but the interim reports do not detail how the Air France pilots reached this point in the first place. No way do I believe that the pilots manually commanded an extreme nose-up input, as the report is claiming. To say that a pilot would, for an "unreliable airspeed event," initiate a 7,000-foot-per-minute climb, with 16 degrees of nose-up input, is crazy.

But the electronic flight control system (EFCS) of the A330 is capable of generating this magnitude of performance on its own, if, say, the overspeed protection mode was activated by the blocked pitot probes. This is what the A330 simulator displays when this fault is inserted. The auto trim also runs up to about 13 degrees of nose-up trim -- the same figure mentioned in the interims -- and reduces the nose-down authority for the resulting stall.

The pilot cannot override the EFCS quickly when it is misbehaving. The checklist procedures for this are time-consuming and confusing. The "unreliable airspeed" checklist is also ineffective if the EFCS takes control of pitch, as the pilot is locked out.

Meanwhile, operators have since received a "reminder" from Airbus regarding re-engagement of an autopilot after an unreliable airspeed event, because the aircraft can experience a pitch-up command. Maybe that explains how the nose got so high? After all, it is instinctive for pilots to try to re-engage a second or third autopilot if one for whatever reason disengages, as it did on Flight 447.

Additionally, the plane's warning systems were presenting a flood of fault messages, aural chimes and alarms; at the same time the pilots were confronted with impending loss of control due to high angle-of-attack, and stall, at night, in bad weather, without knowing which instruments to trust with their lives.

This is pushing the limits of what a pilot can synthesize and react to."
preacher1
preacher1 0
Scott:it was a situation that myself and a whole bunch of others hope we never get into. It was one that no amount of programming or SIM work could duplicate, BUT, as anybody will tell you that has flown for awhile, and I don't care if it's a Jcub or a 747, something will happen to you that is totally unexpected. All you can do is break it apart as quickly as you can, try and fix each piece of it and hope you can get it done before you hit the ground. I am not typed in an Airbus of anykind, but even the new Boeing's are automating to a point, yet nothing in any of their's or anyone else's system, except Airbus, CAN LOCK THE PILOT OUT OF CERTAIN FUNCTIONS, and that scares the hell out of me.
organfreak
Me too. The Airbus design ignores Murphy's Law, utterly.
You'd think they would have learned that after the famous airshow crash years ago (A310?), but instead, it was covered up and blamed on the pilots, at least one of whom was actually jailed.
preacher1
preacher1 0
Sad part is, most of our investigations here by the NTSB are pretty much impartial and the chips fall where they may, then the lawyers can do their work based on those findings. They seem to be clouded overseas though and a real bad BLAME GAME gets played, clouding up an issue instead of finding a problem and learning from it.
organfreak
NTSB may be, er, "impartial" indeed, BUT! Too bad the FAA isn't, and doesn't have to follow any of the NTSB's recommendations. There's still an attempt to create "a balance" between safety and profitability.
preacher1
preacher1 0
Like I said, that's where the Lawyers start.lol
organfreak
I hate to reveal my politics, but if there is egregious malfeasance, more power to 'em!
I know a few lawyers; they're almost like people.
preacher1
preacher1 0
No Scott, that ain't really what I meant.lol. Here, the laywyers won't start until after the investigation.Regarding 447, you got investigators, courts, and all parties in it together.
organfreak
Airbus is kind of a stinkin' deal because the French gov't owns a big piece of it. So, since the French gov't. also does the official investigating, they're are not even close to being neutral. Airbus stands to lose billions if they are found to be at fault. They won't let that happen, so the pilots will be blamed. Too bad they were already given the death penalty.
preacher1
preacher1 0
Yeah, kinda sucks, but that's life
tbpera
Tom Pera 0
most of these situations are the result of a series of errors compounding themselves..used to be ATC and read every NTSB report cover to cover -- always a CHAIN of EVENTS... very rarely one malfunction or problem... (Iowa DC10 engine explosion excepted)... Again, keep your head up and fly the airplane
preacher1
preacher1 0
Yeah, the book don't cover everything. Most cases you ain't got time to read it anyway and have to go with your gut, if anything is there to go with.
organfreak
@Tom:
What if the airplane won't let you fly it?
buddyl
bud landacre 0
I didn't read the entire article but I agree with the idea. I have been in the sim with many guys whose piloting skills were not so great when the autopilot and flight directors "failed". An article published in BCA magazine several years ago addressed automation in the cockpit that included an observation by an old, gray haired mossback that he "can't fly worth a damn any more but I can type 40 words per minute".
benno5555
The kind of training needed to recover from computer induced attempted manslaughter is not gained in straight and level flight or even handflying a 1 hour trip but in simulator training and using an airplane to train in which I did back in the 60s and 70s. About 10 actual flights in a 727 got us ready for the check. About $ 1000 per hour what UAL figured the cost was. Then the fuzz approved simulators and the first time I flew a 400 was with 300+ passengers. Stimulators are excellent for training a host of emergencies that involve failed systems. But a deep stall at night in the soup iced up with no electrical power and your inner ear telling you that you are inverted and spinning with the fire bell yammering along with a stall warning then some live training would pay off. Too bad most of you are too cheap to want to include that in the price of your ticket. The FAA is nuts. Take that to the funeral.
benno5555
PS< ask me if I'm pissed about that
preacher1
preacher1 0
Give 'em hell Benno!!!!lol
benno5555
I have more glass cockpit time than most pilots - some 14 years. Do you know the comment I heard most often in the cockpit? "Whats that damn thing doing now?" And unsaid is "what the helx am I going to do now" Crews go on the line knowing 8 basics about the FMC. Apparently it works so whats to say about that. But when the emergency is dire AND TRAINING DID NOT COVER THAT, the skill and knowledge of the pilot has to overcome the nonpilot designer really fast. I know a pilot who stopped a 400 in Auckland in the latter 90s with computer outages where Boeing said they simulated it and crashed 25 out of 25 times. Training anyone? Some money here would be nice. I made it.
usaerin
@ Wayne Bookout --

When I saw the title of this article I knew right away who we'd be hearing from.
preacher1
preacher1 0
@Kenneth K: this has been going on the last 3-4 days. Where you been?lol
usaerin
@ Wayne Bookout --

I just couldn't get away from the Mother-ship.
chrisso
As demand for airspace continues and safety margins are squeezed the need for accurate adherence to aircraft positioning is of paramount concern. The downside is that the pilot is designed out of the loop,seen as he/she is,as the weak link. Monitoring en-route position, fuel flows and frequency changes are no more demanding that running a morderately busy office in terms of executive skills. It's when the brown stuff hits the fan. How easy is it for the pilot to change role from overseer/manager to commander? Pilots are in an invidious position. New recruits will probably never fly steam gauge, six lever aircraft. DA-40/C172-1000 then DA-42,then type rating and finally line job. It's not their fault. I know a number of line pilots who use their weekends to fly gliders or aerobatic aircraft. There's nothing like slide rule VFR in a single-engined aircraft to keep the interest and skill levels up.

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