Old 5th Jan 2011, 17:36
  #85 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jul 2003
Location: An Island Province
Posts: 1,074
The issue appears to be automation, but more so, advanced technology - automatics only provide muscle for some applications.
A view from previous discussions was that we have to live with ‘it’ (I stress ‘it’ as automation/technology); we have to get used to it, it’s a fact of modern operations. Some people are managing this, perhaps some not, and for the majority there is an uncomfortable in-between state with many pitfalls, often creating a feeling of ‘not being in control’.

Many safety problems involve ‘technological malfunction’; this is rarely due to a system fault, but more likely aspects of human interaction – not understanding the situation (including the technology) or not choosing an appropriate course of action.
As much as we think that we understand technology, most initial training only covers the basics of normal operations without serious ‘malfunction’, and don’t forget a ‘self’ malfunction.
Current automation adds complexity which furthers the need for evaluation, understanding, and choice; this requires greater operating knowledge which may only be acquired ‘on the job’.

Are we – the industry and individually, learning ‘on the job’? Is there encouragement (there’s no requirement), opportunity / time, personal willingness, or guidance / instruction available for this?
IMHO we are failing to learn about operating automation. Where we do learn, and a lot is accomplished in operation, it may not be directly relevant to the situations we face, or we are not learning in-depth to satisfy the needs of safety.

With modern automation/technology we appear to require more time to acquire knowledge in order to operate in the same manner as previously.
Thus calls for more training; but alternatives could be to change the operational environment, or the nature of the operation. The most likely solution is a combination of both, involving new ways at looking at training, operations, and particularly ourselves.

Many of the answers are within the ‘bleats’ about auto/manual flight. Stop and think about what ‘you’ can do about ‘it’, think about operating without technology, the basics of assessing the situation, understanding and planning without an ND / FMS. Prepare yourself for the unexpected - how you would manage the aircraft in a LHR hold without FMS / autos; it’s not just stick and throttle flying. Then with these skills automation might appear more logical.

“Give a starving man food today and he will be hungry tomorrow, teach a man to farm and he will feed himself” - - - Teach a pilot to operate / manage (think) as well as handling skills, then you provide a basis for future safety, new captains, and instructors.
Yes – there’s a gap between effecting any change and the reality of now – we have to ‘think’ about that ourselves – how do we operate and what do we know – or don’t know (what and how), and what are we going to do about that – professional self improvement. The industry won’t do that for you, these qualities cannot be regulated or inspected; they have to come from within.
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