Monday, April 16, 2012


Srinivas Rao | 12:23 AM | | | | Best Blogger Tips

Bombardier Cseries

With the rapid advancement of technology, automation in cockpits have made rapid strides and have successfully made tasks of pilots easier.Crew of the modern generation aircraft have had to put considerable effort and time in trying to understand the automation modes and remain engaged appropriately. As much as comfort the flight crews would derive in normal flight operation with the automation,the questions that all of us pilots tend to ask ourselves is what would be one's reaction if it were to degrade or fail totally. That brings out various scenarios and challenges in dealing with the failures. 

Automation systems are not infallible, so as crew we need to have a plan to deal with situations when faced with automation redundancy. Here is where the training philosophy and crew training comes into light, as currently, it gives one an impression that the industry has not adequately addressed this aspect.

To quote William Voss, President and CEO FSF," This issue of lack of awareness of what the aircraft is doing and the lack of understanding about what mode the automation is in are becoming common threads in accidents."

The above quote,clearly sends out a message that the industry need to place emphasis on training and the dire need to equip crew to understand the automation and its various modes and remain ahead of the aircraft.

Airlines need to define automation policy and fortify the manual flying skills of crew flying the highly automated aircraft.As pilots are the back up to the automation failure,industry needs to get out and address aggressively the backup, the pilot, to be able to address the safety concerns.

Automation dependency needs to be addressed and airline policies need revamping to be able to cope with the automation issues.

Do send in your views about automation and the related issues and let us know if you agree that crew need to train/practice more on manual flying, especially in simulator and sharpen their manual skills.


  1. Srinivas, as you know this is a concern of mine for the future... Will the pilots know how to fly their planes when they grow up on the automation?

    I'm very interested in "when" Mr. Voss made this quote..."lack of awareness of what the aircraft is doing and the lack of understanding about what mode the automation is in are becoming common threads in accidents."

    That truth was more during the era when automation was being introduced, time of the Cali crash. The onset of automation when the crews lacked situational awareness and followed their planes blindly.

    From what I've seen, crews now must understand how to operate the automation. 90% of training and 100% of checking is now done with automation. And, they're getting pretty good. The question is, if they continue to use automation only, will they retain their flying skills, or have the understanding of how to fly without it.

    Thanks for a great post!

  2. Karlene, I tend to agree with you that crew do understand automation more now than before,but I believe there is more scope for focus in this area. Regarding manual skills, the industry and operators need to accord more importance and thrust in this area as in degraded mode of operation, crew need to muster all skills to overcome the situation. I believe Emirates has addressed the manual flying issue by according extra time in the simulator.
    Thanks for your comment and let me know if I can be of further help in clarifying

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