View Full Version : More Facts on Automation Dependency

6th Nov 2010, 06:02
Pilot Reliance on Automation Erodes Skills


MILAN (WSJ)-Increasing reliance on cockpit automation appears to be significantly eroding the manual flying skills of many airline pilots, who are then "sometimes not prepared to deal with non-routine situations," according to the researcher behind a sweeping air-safety study released Thursday.

Presented to an international aviation safety conference here by senior Federal Aviation Administration scientist Kathy Abbott, the study's conclusions buttress the idea that a significant percentage of airline pilots rely excessively on computerized cockpit aids. Such adherence to computer-assisted pilotingg-and the confusion that can result when pilots fail to properly keep up with computer changes-increasingly are considered major factors in airliner crashes world-wide.

Prepared by a team of industry, labor, university and government experts, the findings reveal fundamental safety gaps in commercial aviation. And they are likely to prompt stepped-up debate over whether pilot training should be changed to reverse that trend.

Kathy Abbott, the agency' s chief technical advisor for flight deck design and human factors, said the participants analyzed more than 730 incidents, 26 accidents and some 9,100 flights word-wide between 2001 and 2009.
The study found, among other things, that manual flying errors contributed to about 60% of selected accidents and 30% of selected incidents perused by the team. Those statistics "got our interest, as you can imagine," Ms. Abbott said. The errors included inappropriate control inputs by pilots and incorrect responses when trying to recover from aircraft upsets.

Thursday's report summary was long awaited by regulators and airline officials, because it is a way to understand and highlight the hazards of excessive pilot dependence on automation. The group of experts, including aircraft manufacturing executives and pilot-union representatives, isn't expected to release the final document until next year.

But already, the preliminary conclusions are pinpointing problems some pilots have in properly recognizing when autopilots should be engaged or disconnected in certain types of emergencies. Focusing too much on manipulating flight-control computers, according to Ms. Abbott, often "distracts from managing the flight path of the airplane."

The study is intended to update an influential 1996 FAA-sponsored examination of the benefits and drawbacks of cockpit automation. But because automated flight-management systems, navigation aids and autopilots have progressed so dramatically since the 1990's, the latest study is widely expected to set a benchmark. Other groups and organizations are looking to conduct follow-up research based on its findings.

One cross-cutting theme spelled out in the report, according to Ms. Abbott, is that "pilots sometimes abdicate too much responsibility to the automated systems." Part of the reason, she said, are persistent messages pilots receive from airline management and trainers stressing that "automated systems can do the job better than they can." The study also found that in some cases, pilots don't get adequate opportunities to practice hand-flying skills and therefore often don't feel comfortable grabbing control away from sophisticated flight-deck computers in an emergency.

Thursday's report summary was long awaited by regulators and airline officials Maybe in USA but certainly not in Australia.

6th Nov 2010, 06:12
To read, see and hear an intellegnt Administrator presenting sensible arguments and theories; which are discussed, treated with respect and may provide a safety based outcome.

How come the Kiwi's and the Americans win awards and are pro active. All we win is the useless magazine award.

Right or wrong, this study shows clearly that somewhere, someone knows how administer aviation.

Thank you for the post, it's quite cheered me up.