View Full Version : Report: US Government not ensuring pilot skills are sharp

11th Jan 2016, 01:09
I haven't found a link to the actual Transportation Department's Office of Inspector General report yet:

APNewsBreak: Government not ensuring pilot skills are sharp (http://www.bigstory.ap.org/article/699de9716b4d4f848d933a28499a21ad/apnewsbreak-government-not-ensuring-pilot-skills-are-sharp)

Tee Emm
11th Jan 2016, 12:06
That is unsurprising. It's highly probable that every airline regulator around the world will stay well clear of mandating an increased accent on manual flying skills. Even during simulator training.

11th Jan 2016, 17:02
What do the old farts say to the youngsters with stars in their eyes when the say the want to be an airline pilot: and what's it really like?
If you want to fly don't be an airline pilot. If you want to travel, for free as work, with a great view, then perhaps. If you are LH you will see some amazing places, if SH LOCo then not. Pays ye money takes no choice.

11th Jan 2016, 18:26
My guess is that this is true for airline pilots worldwide. I have recurrent training next week. It'll be interesting to see how much manual flying will be required of me to complete the course.

12th Jan 2016, 09:10
Here is a link to the report from the DOT OIG.


The Crew
12th Jan 2016, 09:35
Not applicable at BA. 300 word essays x 5, questionnaire, capacity n 2+2 tests, Making hairs cross and an upside down handbag will ensure that prospective recruits have all the skill to excel in the "modern" flight deck.

Ah , sorry, the DOT are probable talking about those skills that cannot be learnt from an App purchase n a few hours practise. Shame on them :suspect:

12th Jan 2016, 18:58
I find it kind of funny that this references US airlines. From my experience and what I infer from this forum I would guess that Americans get a lot more hand flying than most other pilots. I am not aware of any US airline that requires the use of automation. The ones I worked for didn't anyway. Most of my FOs hand flew a lot. I didn't, but I spent half my career with round dials.

13th Jan 2016, 14:23
Seems to me an enterprising airframer (my previous employer forbade that noun, declaring it derogatory) could produce a light twin especially as an in-flight simulator. Its cockpit should roughly replicate a modern jet (hey, they're all alike, eh?). The IP could have a hidden "automation kill" switch that could quickly place the student in a degraded cockpit - in a real airplane that costs far less to operate than an airliner.

Or has someone beat me to this idea?

13th Jan 2016, 15:14
The flying characteristics of a light twin is too different from a modern airliner to make them useful for simulation. They fly too slow and too low... a slow stall at 3000' is very different than a high-speed stall at FL380.

However, there are many modified light jets (Learjets, etc.) with customized cockpits / flight control systems being used for training purposes, including upset recovery training.

17th Jan 2016, 14:50
In the 60s TWA had a Lockheed 1329 JetStar used as a procedures trainer - I doubt they had modified the control dynamics to simulate a 707 etc.

But Cornell/Calspan could do the job in this NC-131H Convair.

Before that, they had a T-33 with variable-stability mods.

17th Jan 2016, 15:08
The issue is not so much one of basic pilot skills being substandard, more a case of economics driving aircraft to fly autonomously at the edges of the flight envelope. When the equipment fails, pilots are placed in the position of having to take over control of an aircraft at the edge of flight stability, frequently with degraded instrument indications or artificial control constraints.

I am inclined to believe that in general, pilots cope admirably with these failures in most instances and that we should be witnessing a lot more of these loss of control type incidents than has been the case to date.

That said, there is certainly no cause for complacency and pilots should be encouraged to fly manually whenever possible. Perhaps the lowering costs of fuel might allow economics to take a back seat for a while?

17th Jan 2016, 17:15
One idea is that manual flying will keep pilots sharp in being aware of what the /c is doing. This initiative is generated by what appears to be lack of monitoring of the automatics. I applaud retaining manual skills, but I also feel, strongly, that there has to be an answer to the complacency of using automatics. I see time & again young pilots who make a selection via the automatics; i.e. they make a command to the a/c via MCP or FMC to compete a task. They then do not keep a sharp eye on the ac/ to confirm it is following their commands. Eventually, they might realise that all is not well, and the first thought is "why is it not doing what I wanted?" or "why is my selection not achieving the result I want?" In manual flight I would hope this questioning would cause an immediate adjustment to control/thrust input. No questioning, just action.
It is this delay & confusion when using automatics that often causes problems. Manual flight is great, but it needs to go hand in hand with a solid understanding of the automatics.

17th Jan 2016, 18:38
Just typical government/media fear mongering.

17th Jan 2016, 18:59
We didn't realize how lucky we were in the postwar years to have cockpits dominated by veterans. Computerized flying is nice, but when things go sideways I want the guy in the left seat to have more hours on fire than I have on actual instruments.

17th Jan 2016, 19:51
Before that, they had a T-33 with variable-stability mods.

And before that they had a B-26. I had three or four flights in it as part of the Navy Test Pilot School syllabus. Very impressive what they could do with analog computers in those days. They could make it fly like a Corsair or a B-47.

Spooky 2
18th Jan 2016, 09:38
I think that when the extended envelope training starts in the 2108/2019 time frame we will see a huge improvement in stick and rudder skills. Until then who knows?

18th Jan 2016, 19:41
Every modern aircraft should have a yellow guarded switch. When this is activated it turns it into a real aeroplane.

18th Jan 2016, 23:36
Hand flew till 15000, truned on the A/P, Cojoe asked if he had bumped it off, "no I got tired of handflying it" Really you were flying?

19th Jan 2016, 11:12
I regularly invited F/O's to hand fly at > FL370. Some said "yes please"; some said "are we allowed to?"; some said, "why?". The 'brave' ones found the feel most enlightening when turning or climbing & descending. The delicacy required for turns, and the tiny attitude changes required in pitch were educational.
Before it was clamped down upon by my then current carrier we had the opportunity to make a visual demo in Poland. 15nm out, FL 100 250kts, perpendicular to runway, severe clear, gentle wind, choice of runway.
The no-aid runway was better for the apron. Everything off, a calm descending CDA overhead the upwind end, into downwind, into a short baseleg and finals, spool up at 2-3nm. No worries (as they say). Good fun too.
F/O was wide-eyed. "where did you learn to do that? We are not taught to do that. I wish we could try it more often." Good attitude. The real answer was "because that was the norm in yester-year."
Then the G/A's increased and the 'wet-blanket' brigade took over. VNAV/LNAV + FD + AT (preferably + AP) to OM finals. Would that the FAA had some influence in all European operators. Some follow the new philosophy, some are diametrically opposed.
I did ask: "if so much was invested in base training, i.e. no FD visual circuits to short finals, why were they not permitted on the line?" The answer was that it was rare to do level flight arrivals so downwind timing was not available, and without that DR guidance there would be too many hot/high short finals = too many costly GA's. No opportunity to train the manoeuvre, so better to use the AFDS/FMC guidance to longer finals and preferably AP & AT in CMD. i.e. it's cheaper (safer) to prohibit such 'cowboy' manoeuvres than train the crews properly.
I know that sounds simplistic, but that's how it is with many outfits worldwide.
However, in discussion about this with friends in various national legacy carriers, and others in more longer established large charter airlines, this type of flying is still there norm when environment & traffic allow. As a pax into various smaller EU airfields it is obvious when the sky is clear the guys are enjoying some normal piloting to get us on the deck quickly. All with out drama.
One mitigating parameter is that many legacy carriers operate from one main base and the larger charter companies operate from one country and only a few bases. Thus the Flt Ops & Training depts have a better oversight of techniques & standards. With the rapid expansion of younger operators, with most of their bases over the horizon and therefore a tenuous oversight, I can understand them adopting a much more rigid attitude. It has allowed the embryonic growth to huge unexpected levels so fast. How do they adopt a new attitude to follow the FAA ethics? Difficult.