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Old 13th Aug 2011, 01:10
  #1978 (permalink)  
JD-EE
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: I am where I am and that's all where I am.
Posts: 660
CaptainGef, I agree with David Learmount on everything within his field of excellence and experience. It's perhaps coincidental I came to most of the same conclusions.

The chief item I'd take issue with is his lament that there will be a drive to push pilots out of the cockpit completely. That is an ongoing phenomenon. Military pilots may last a lot longer than transport pilots. They fly under completely different "rules of engagement"; and, military pilots face far greater problems with things like landing an aircraft under real or potential enemy fire.

Strangely enough the requirements for safe flight in the AF447 situation were well known. And the computer had full access to data, some of which was not but should be available to the pilot. I believe it was politics and limitations of the rather antiquated (in computer terms) computers and software on the AF447. No, this is not a "bit rot" thing, not a software bug. It's more a slow computer, political limitations issue, and knowledge about what to do sort of issue.

I get the feeling that it is known that pitch and power is how you fly when airspeed is lost but it is not trusted that this is enough. Therefore pilots are thrust into the loop. For the time being they are in the cockpit anyway because humans are still somewhat better than machines at picking their way between bad weather conditions if they actually use the radar properly.

The progress I see is along the lines of UAS being handled by the computer since it is becoming more and more obvious that computers don't face "instinctual drives". They face biases that are not built into the software and can be very complex. More and more the pilot will become a cockpit executive. "Plane, go there. Make it happen."

This will be followed by computers able to thread the needle based on radar and other instrumentation to the point that any condition the computer cannot literally learn to handle would be way beyond any human's capabilities - someday.

I note the Google has a self driving car that uses video cameras for situational awareness. The Chinese have stepped in with their version. Neither is ready for prime time. One of Google's cars suffered a collision lately. It was under manual control with the driver trying to get into a very tight parking place. Apparently something as mundanely complex parking may be "the final frontier" for computerized cars. I wonder what will be the final problem with fully automated flight. I suspect much of the increased automation I mentioned will come with the next generation of aircraft based on A380 and Dreamliner experience.

I've been watching the computer industry because I am in it. A time will come when pilots are as obsolete as people who know how to drive a car or make a buggy whip.

I cannot say I am emotionally pleased at this. And I see this as part of a completely destabilizing trend for society. But, it's going to happen regardless of my emotional reactions.
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