View Full Version : Aircrew Medicals, Mental Health Checks and Robotic Concerns

6th Oct 2001, 09:39

>> [RDD] The world is going insane about robo landing jets. RoboLander is totally
>> completely whacko ka ka nutso:
[Peter] I have to agree. But the original poster whom Robert quoted is also on this list, so I'm sure he'll be able to confirm that neither he nor his group is completely nuts.

This autonomous control concept for commercial aircraft is not a favorite of mine, either, generally for the reasons which you mentioned. However, it appears to be taken very seriously by People Who Matter in the US. AvWeek reported last week that NASA is having a serious go at looking at such concepts, and there are people like Raytheon, who demonstrated JPALS recently, whom I am sure would be claiming they have the technology base to do it, because there is going to be a lot of money floating around for development proposals to avoid hostile aircraft takeovers. Aviation Safety Week also devoted significant space a couple of weeks ago to discussion of such autonomous landing concepts.

In contrast, proposals about relatively inert fuel, although they involve relatively few technical difficulties (mainly to do with storage and
fueling), and were partially successfully tested 17 years ago, don't appear to be given much weight. (But Air Safety Week also devoted some space to discussion of this concept in the same issue.)

Thanks for the defence. I am most assuredly sane having had my aircrew medical only last week and still being authorised to carry my ATPL and six-gun. The sanity check consisted of reassuring the physician that I had nothing to do with this crazed autonomous control recovery concept that was floating around. He nearly caught me out with his trickery pokery play on semantics and pedantry - but I was tooo quick for him.

"Autonomous to me means self-contained. What has that got to do with direct control over the autopilot functions of an airliner by a sentient mind on the ground?" quoth I. He then nodded knowingly and conceded: "absolutely nothing at all. I'm going to have to have another look at it, now that you've pointed that out"
"Do you have any dreams about being trapped in an aircraft and not being able to open the door?" he said. "No way, at least not now," I says. "I can shoot my way out. Heaven help anyone gets between me and the nearest exit."

And lo and behold he stamped me certifiable and so my licence is now good for a maximum of 2000 more semi-autonomoused landing evolutions (as long as I promise not to touch anything, keep "religiously" updating the latest software patches and always carry a spare mouse).

"Religiously?" quoth I. "I'll have you know that my long-time good friend Ali Mustafa MustSkareme does it for me under contract. He has a direct line to Microsoft, prays to Bill Gates and drives that new four-wheel SUV, what do they call it? The Keran, that's right. No craven images for him, he's no heathen. I'd trust him with my wife - in spite of her thinly veiled threats to leave me for him."

That seemed to disconcert him so the probe continued: "What do you think about robotics?" he asked. I thought for a while and then ventured: "I guess they're OK as long as they're automated and programmed. Well I mean you wouldn't want one wandering around footloose and fancy free like that Robby the Robot from my favourite TV show The Lost World". "Precisely," he said, pointing to a bin laden with cancelled pilot's licences. "Do you know that I've had to cancel every other pilots' licence this week. It's as if it's a manic plague of some sort. As soon as they see that poster on the wall over there, the one that says "Chance it with Ansett", they start raving and rambling, dribbling and drooling. One chap started obsessing about scabz, but he had nary a one on him."

"Tell me, are you worried about your job security now that there's been this massive downturn in tourism." "No, Doctor, definitely not. My company has a plan for its own hostile take-over. It will be applying for a Government subsidy to defend against it and enable continued operations to remote regions and also for a free enterprise grant to help back the hostile take-over initiative. John Andersen has said that these multi-faceted solutions will be available in the run up to an election. We also aim to hijack people and turn them into passengers. We'll get marketing to offer them free take-offs to a surprise destination and then once airborne, charge them for the landing."

But he seemed determined to have the last word: "What would you do if you found a terrorist in the cockpit?" he wanted to know. Well he was literally stunned by my response and that was the way I left him. The stunning answer was of course: "Well as long as his landings are smooth and he makes his arrival time and my connecting flight, I really don't care what his politics are."

OVERTALK http://www.iasa-intl.com/RoboLander.htm