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This is not about better stick and rudder skills.

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This is not about better stick and rudder skills.

Old 25th Apr 2012, 12:10
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This is not about better stick and rudder skills.

Voss Says Pilots Must Back Up Automation

"Five years ago we passed the point where automation was there to back up pilots," said Flight Safety Foundation CEO Bill Voss at last week's Flight Safety Foundation Corporate Aviation Safety Seminar in San Antonio. "Clearly today, the pilot is there to be the backup to the automation." Voss told AIN "This is simply a realistic assessment of the world today, except we are not training pilots to be backups to automation. We have to own up to the fact that we need develop new kinds of pilot training," he said.

Voss added that human pilots too often lose the mental picture of the aircraft's automation. "If pilots have no idea of what the automation should be doing, they also have no idea of whether everything they observe on the panel represents a normal operation. That's what happened to Air France 447," he said.

"This is not just about better stick and rudder skills though," he explained. "What you die from is not understanding what configuration will keep the aircraft in the air safely. If pilots don't understand that level flight means two-and-a-half degrees of pitch and 93-percent N1, they have no way of manually controlling that aircraft if something breaks. But the training department can't fix everything. This is also an operational problem out on the line."

Maybe I am missing something here in reading Voss's comments - but surely the opposite is true - it is about pure flying skills or in his words "stick and rudder skills". Part of those pure flying skills is instinctively knowing what attitude and power settings are required to meet a set performance.

Superb automation skills will never equate, for example, to the manual handling skill and flight instrument interpretation required to safely recover from an unusual attitude in IMC that have been the proven cause of recent Loss of control accidents. After all, it is L of C caused primarily by poor piloting skills that have caused the plethora of airline crashes that Voss is concerned about.

Last edited by Centaurus; 25th Apr 2012 at 12:26.
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Old 25th Apr 2012, 12:14
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Maybe I am missing something here but surely the opposite is true - it is about pure flying skills or put another way "stick and rudder skills". Isn't that what has been causing the plethora of airline crashes under the title of Loss of Control?
Yep.

Keep your skills sharp. Earn your money. No excuse not to.
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Old 25th Apr 2012, 12:32
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"This is not just about better stick and rudder skills though," he explained. "What you die from is not understanding what configuration will keep the aircraft in the air safely. If pilots don't understand that level flight means two-and-a-half degrees of pitch and 93-percent N1, they have no way of manually controlling that aircraft if something breaks. But the training department can't fix everything. This is also an operational problem out on the line."
What he is trying to tell is the fact, that without basic knowledge of the principles of flight the pilot will not be able to use his stick and rudder skills in the correct way. These principles of flight apply during automatic as well as manual handling of the aircraft. Not grasping the situation the automatics operate in the moment of disengagement might lead to mishandling the aircraft in manual mode (as has been demonstrated with AF447).

What kind of pilot would have pulled up from near level flight into a significant climb above the top of the performance envelope and not exspect an imminent stall?

It comes down to the old saying: A bold pilot uses his superior skills to get out of bad situations, whereas the expierienced pilot uses his expierience to stay out of situations, where he would need his superior skills.

Being alert and staying in the loop is necessary besides sick and rudder skills.
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Old 25th Apr 2012, 12:48
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Though I think he's right when he says:

"This is not just about better stick and rudder skills though," he explained. "What you die from is not understanding what configuration will keep the aircraft in the air safely. If pilots don't understand that level flight means two-and-a-half degrees of pitch and 93-percent N1, they have no way of manually controlling that aircraft if something breaks.
I do however think the culture of training, perhaps worldwide, has to take some of the blame. When 90% of the time during a recurrent check is used to check/teach/examine the latest cost saving automated procedure (e.g.GPS/RNAV, approaches, CATIII work) your're "lucky" to get much had flying other than the mandatory engine failure above V1. It would not surprise me at all if the newer generation of pilots see absolutely no benefit in keeping manual skills above anything other than an "adequate for sim" level.....
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Old 25th Apr 2012, 12:59
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Jazz Hands, I think that there are two subtly different points here, and I agree with RetiredF4 (if I understand him correctly).
Yes it's true that the ability to pole the aircraft to the required standard is a vital, underrated and diminishing skill, and yes, that includes power/attitude solutions plus throttle, flap, gear, oil pressure, clock and everything else you can think of.
But most of the loss of control incidents aren't caused just by a pilots' scan breaking down. It is in the "where's it going now" phase whilst the automatics are still doing thier job that the accident begins to happen.
It's one thing to be handed control of the aircraft in level flight, quite another when you are roaring through the localiser toward high ground on a foul night, and presented with whatever electrical failure caused the automatics to quit in the first place.
So I think the point is that we should use automatics to enhance, rather than degrade situational awareness, and should be looking at the power, attitude, position etc that they have established and asking, "what would I be doing right now, if I was handling it".
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Old 25th Apr 2012, 13:17
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Voss is spot on. There is a whole generation of pilots now who simply don't fully understand how their aircraft works, and not just those flying the highly complex modern jets. Even relatively straightforward turboprops seem to leave some pilots completely confused with regard to systems operation and abnormal configurations and failures. Add to that, pilots who don't understand that their feet are more than pretty apendages on which to hang their shoes and you have a whole heap of trouble brewing.
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Old 25th Apr 2012, 13:25
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Children of the magenta line:
Children of Magenta - YouTube
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Old 25th Apr 2012, 13:31
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Fundamental confusion about what it means to be a pilot. Let's face it...if there were no elevators in buildings, we would all be better at walking up stairs, or there would only be one story buildings.

what does that mean? it means without automation, planes would be much simpler and a bit less efficent moneymakers. but remember, the golden age of jets , we had plenty of flyable, fast, jets. The F106 is still the fastest single engine fighter that ever was...computers? not much!

so...while I think Voss doesn't fully understand ''stick and rudder'', the real meaning, he does hint about TRUE AIRMANSHIP...that is knowing everything that is pertinent to the safety of flight.

I could never fly those computer games well...they truly don't represent FLYING. But give me a DC9 with no computers (to speak of) and I'm just fine.



I can see the day that simple planes make a return and that pilot skill will be paramount.


Yes, we back up automation....even in an automobile with GPS...the GPS has lead people out logging roads to their doom! It takes driver/pilot thinking to say: gee I don't want to drive on a dirt road, I'll turn back even though the GPS is yelling at me.

Please redesign modern planes to more easily present vital information (the stuff the wright brothers knew, like AOA) to the pilot.


AS to training the modern pilot...do go back to simple ''stick and rudder" planes, keep your paper chart on your knee, know vital pitch/power combinations (remember the 757 that had paint/tapes on its static sources?) and know what makes sense.
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Old 25th Apr 2012, 13:41
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stick and rudder basics

I flew the b737 for 15 years with extra bits of f70/100 so I am familiar with the concept of EFIS and autopilots and so on, I accept my mental image of the airbus is blurred but;

How can 3 skilled airbus pilots out over the ocean descend in a stalled condition for about 4 minutes without a recognising the state and doing something about it.

I was spoilt by having the Queen, God bless her, spend unlimited amounts on my initial training and so my view is biased but surely about cruise power with the nose say 3 degrees above the horizon then whatever corrective action is needed to remedy the crisis, full power if slow reduced if fast and then refine the position when safe

I suppose the three knew there was a problem but could not decide which it was and which instrument to trust

Anyway this is the most recent of several slightly similar events to confirm the worries that our stick and rudder is not what it should be to allow us to meet the unusual crisis requiring in depth preception of events
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Old 25th Apr 2012, 13:55
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Never flown an Airbus (and probably never will) but every aircraft I have flown gives some sort of feedback through the stick - real or artificial - to tell you that you have stalled.
I'm surprised the boffins at Airbus didn't think that was as good an idea as I do.
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Old 25th Apr 2012, 14:00
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RTFQ

This is not just about better stick and rudder skills though
Key words:

JUST, BETTER and THOUGH

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Old 25th Apr 2012, 14:12
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And how, in the current climate, are they to acquire, hone and maintain these essential skills?

Just asking....
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Old 25th Apr 2012, 14:18
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Given the current climate, the answer is easy. In their own time and at their own expense
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Old 25th Apr 2012, 14:33
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How can 3 skilled airbus pilots out over the ocean descend in a stalled condition for about 4 minutes without a recognising the state and doing something about it. By tinribs
Well apparently the same as the 757 crew did it coming out of the Dominican with a bad pitot tube.

Sorry, don't want to start this again, but not paying attention to common things like attitude and thrust (or pitch/ power) are not strictly an Airbus problem.
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Old 25th Apr 2012, 15:06
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Skills

Deny it as much as you want. Truth is, skills have deteriorated over the last ten years. Button pushers are flying airplanes relying on reliable automation and in the event of a failure which requires FLYING skills are falling short (very often near the runway or the ocean)
Instructors and trainers don't have a mandate to effect a change in the training syllabus because a large number of pilots will not make the grade and HR can't understand WHY!!
A quick search on you tube: Aircraft accident investigations will reveal the shocking number of crashes because of stalling the airplane and not knowing how to recover. If this is not deterioration of flying skills then i don't know, What is?
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Old 25th Apr 2012, 15:40
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How effective is the simulator for practicing stall recovery? Engine out on takeoff? Go around at low altitude with full flaps? Do you guys get enough time in it?
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Old 25th Apr 2012, 15:54
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And for an example of when flying skills saved the day, look no further than the Qantas B707 incident on route to Bahrain in 1969, described euphemistically as a "Steep Dive and Recovery', in reality a total loss of control.

I was among those who met the crew on landing in BAH, and we heard the Captain say that he only got back in control, at 6,000' or so (from FL360 or thereabouts), when he went back to basic training days and "recovery from unusual attitudes" in a Tiger Moth.

Mind you, in those days the pilots could move the control surfaces with the control column and rudder bar, even on a B707, and all the primary instruments were there.

There were many injuries in the cabin as the aircraft pulled large positive and negative G forces, rolled and generally behaved badly. Flying debris accounted for much of it, especially the 3 bottles of liquor allowed per passenger, bearing in mind the stowage arrangements of that time.

"Steep Dive"? Ho, ho, ho.

The aircraft was ferried empty, skin wrinkles and all, for sale as scrap.
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Old 25th Apr 2012, 16:01
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I'm curious about a few things...

From a "PPL/SLF" perspective a few commonalities seem to exist. As automation has created more of a system manager persona I think that actual command authority has deteriorated. since 96% (to put a rough number on it) of every flight is "commanded" by the autopilot has that effected how the crew actually thinks.

If we look at three incidents (AF, Turkish boeing and Lebanon) all are "command authority" driven in my mind.

In AF the PM was aware of the incorrect inputs from the PF but never took control. Beyond that I'm unaware of any specific comments regarding pitch and/or power...which is airmanship 101 in the event of unreliable speed indications.

In the Turkish crash you have 3 pilots who apparently have all failed to maintain any type of basic situational awareness and instrument scan.

The Lebanese crash highlights the actual transfer of command to automation. Neither pilot was actually monitoring the aircraft after "command" had been given to the autopilot (which of course never engaged).

Leaving the abject failure in airmanship by the AF PF the others are beyond CRM (IMO) and reach a fundamental state of mind. Have things reached a point where in the mind of many pilots actual "command authority" now rests with the autopilot.

In my mind i've always felt that overwhelmed and confused the PF of 447 was in effect "instructing the autopilot" not attempting to fly the plane. At some fundemental level he was imploring the AP to keep the plane "up" and expecting the AP to do all the heavy lifting...even though it was no longer "in command".
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Old 25th Apr 2012, 16:36
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The simulator does not give the physiological effects of 'g' etc, so recovery from unusual attitudes needs to be practiced in a suitable real aeroplane.
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Old 25th Apr 2012, 17:47
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Not understanding

Centaurus, you choose to focus on stick and rudder skills, but overlook the message in the remaining text – ‘not understanding’ … ‘pilot’s don’t understand’.
Aspects of understanding reappear in the video link (#8), where situation awareness is an important factor.

Stick and rudder skills may assist awareness, particularly during manual flight, but different skills are required when using automation, which together with the basics of thinking are required to generate awareness, similar to those required for instrument flying.

If automation skills training are restricted to the ‘button pushing’ stage – ‘do this then that happens’, then the deep understanding which enables experience is missing. This understanding is more than technical knowledge and principles of operation/flight, it involves the mechanism of how to apply this knowledge in other situations, and in turn, enhance experience (an alternative view of RetiredF4’s #3).

The age old training question is how to teach experience – it’s difficult.
Experience can be gained; skills of awareness and application – which are used in manual flight, can be taught, much like teaching people to think. An alternative view of airmanship is good thinking in aviation.
Thus it’s the lack of this teaching and practice in the application of these when using automation is where the problem lies.

Does the industry understand this?
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