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The Public Perception of Modern Pilots

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The Public Perception of Modern Pilots

Old 5th Dec 2012, 18:42
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Many suburban railways are automatic, and not slow and clunky like the DLR, either. Try the system in Toulouse, for example.
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Old 5th Dec 2012, 18:43
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Do you?

Or do you practice in the sim, for the bad days?

My assumption is sims will still be available...
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Old 5th Dec 2012, 20:09
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Age old comparison of train drivers and aircraft pilots, and in my opinion (biased of course I know) there is no comparison. The general public have absolutely no idea about the decisions involved on a day to day basis of flying an aircraft from A to B. From fuel to appropriate diversions to overriding of the automatics (selected speed on approach for example instead of the aircraft requested speed) happens on a day to day basis. Not only that but on regular occasions aircraft have severe issues from hydraulic failures to low fuel states to thunderstorms at both arrival airfield and diversion airfield etc etc. The complexity of the job is generally played down by pilots as we all have it driven in to us to always make everyone feel safe about flying. In my humble opinion if the general public knew what goes on worldwide on a day to day basis then they would think pilots are extremely important. All the talk of technology being 100% reliable if it's advanced enough is false. The complexity required to design such a piece of equipment would be so immense that it would be impossible (at least for several lifetimes to come). Big picture stuff, a train goes from A to B on a fixed line. It can be controlled very simply with a main computer system that ensures two trains don't collide and the train stops at the appropriate points. Aircraft do not and never will go from A to B on a fixed route, they simply cannot (take weather for example).

We also have a lot of people who will comment on how it wouldn't be too difficult to do so given advances in technology. Having recently had an emergency and diverted due to reasons I won't discuss here, not one single passenger (OR cabin crew member I'll add) had any idea that we were potentially in very serious trouble. In fact at the diversion airfield they were banging on about how they could get their bags back - they were totally oblivious to the potential danger we faced. I will also add that they were oblivious to the potential danger we faced because we as pilots felt it was not appropriate to tell them what was going on......

Luckily I have found from experience that the vast majority of passengers don't think we are "computer monitors" although I have shocked a few passengers visiting the flight deck when showing them that we have a sidestick (one passengers jaw dropped when I told her we land the aircraft manually on basically every single flight).
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Old 5th Dec 2012, 20:27
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I don't think the Great, Great Great Grandfather of the first insurance underwriter to agree to insure a pilotless passenger aircraft has even been born yet! No insurance = No Fly. Any pilotless system would also have to be totally immune, at all times, from terrorist action, world wide.
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Old 5th Dec 2012, 20:44
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They could all have a qualified pilot on board for emergencies - it's just that most of the time they'd be occupied with serving the snacks.
My assumption is sims will still be available...
I'm sure they would be....

At the moment we do 2 X recurrent sims every six months, very much practicing for, as Huck rightly says, "the bad days". The rest of the time the flying we do on the routine sectors helps maintains the skill base we might have to call on for the bad day when we have to don the cape

If you are suggesting your proposed combined cabin crew member/safety pilot only retains competency in the simulator then how many times a month do you think our potential hero/heroine would need to be "in the box" (and away from the drinks trolley!) in order for them to maintain the required standard of flying they might need for the "just in case"?

Have you any idea how much a modern simulator costs (because more simulator sessions means more simulators), and do you know how much they cost to run (I'm sure someone here knows)?

Frankly whilst I'd "never say never" I still don't see the cost vs. benefits adding up in favour of the pilotless or emergency only pilot concept any time soon.

Last edited by wiggy; 5th Dec 2012 at 21:19.
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Old 5th Dec 2012, 20:49
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Perhaps get over yourselves ? The 'public' have other things to do rather than form a perception about pilots ! I am sure if you did a random survey outside Boots the Chemist they would generally think you are much cleverer, and much better paid, than you actually are.
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Old 5th Dec 2012, 20:57
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Yes, the tall poppy syndrome is not easy to get rid off, so you are probably right.
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Old 5th Dec 2012, 22:33
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Frankly I find it highly amusing when people tell us that flying will be fully automatic in the near future.

I am sure future aircraft will have more sophisticated automation but in my opinion we are decades away from full automation requiring no intervention from a qualified crew member.

There have been other threads on this subject before with the software techie guys saying how easy it is to fully automate flying and then pilots asking "what would you do when XXX happens?" followed by a deafening silence.

In my opinion there are too many variables for this to become a viable option for a long time.

Also when the first fully automated airliner spears into the middle of a suburban area who will be liable?

Last edited by fireflybob; 5th Dec 2012 at 22:34.
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Old 5th Dec 2012, 23:40
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" Who will be responsible ?"

Surely " whosoever allowed this means of transport to operate without the ultimate ability to stop what it is doing."

Think of the "Dead-man's hand" or a car's hand brakes. Supertankers require a few miles to stop, they say. (An aeroplane can go into a Holding Pattern, for a limited period but has to keep flying.)

" Robert E. Lee " a C54 flew from Stephenville (west of Gander) to Brize Norton fully automatically in September 1947, but with a full crew on board (observing). I believe that the movements on the ground required to use HUMANS !
LT

Last edited by Linktrained; 5th Dec 2012 at 23:46.
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Old 6th Dec 2012, 01:35
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One question that I would add to the discussion that i am sure someone working in optical or satellite communications might be able to weigh in on.

What are the lag or latency time limits for piloting an aircraft that is over the mid-Pacific for example? I use this for the distances from a ground station. Should the aircraft need to make an emergency landing in, for example, American Samoa, would there not need to be a local signal station giving the commands? Just as a drone can be flown from around the world but needs local control for the takeoff and landing--after all, anything travelling to/from a satellite still requires some time and that time cannot be too great in the flare.

It seems that a rather severe PIO could be induced if there are significant time lags in addition to the precise and timely guidance needed for the critical phases of flight.

How would one ensure this could be covered along the entire route of flight?
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Old 6th Dec 2012, 03:19
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Doctor: Responsible for the health or in extreme cases, the life of one patient.

747 Captain: Responsible for several hundred million dollars worth of machinery, several billion dollars worth of buildings/property (if flying over built up cities), 300+ people on board, and tens of thousands of people on the ground.

But somehow doctors are more important?

Not to any thinking person.
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Old 6th Dec 2012, 06:49
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Not to any thinking person.
On the other hand, a thinking person might consider that a pointless and irrelevant comparison.
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Old 6th Dec 2012, 06:50
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Personally I think it has all gone to rat**** since captains stopped wearing white gloves for landing..
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Old 6th Dec 2012, 07:06
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Wunwing said:

Is say Australia, happy to let a M.E. country controll its VH registered aircraft over their ME territory?
Yes, it is! Look at the EK-QF tie-up. QF is giving itself to EK. EK is going to be more than simply controlling QF over ME territory; it's going to be controlling it world-wide....

(sorry for thread drift but I couldn't pass up on the irony of that statement by Wunwing)

Last edited by Ushuaia; 6th Dec 2012 at 07:07.
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Old 6th Dec 2012, 08:16
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Personally I think it has all gone to rat**** since captains stopped wearing white gloves for landing..
Not to mention many airlines that have dispensed with the wearing of hats as part of crew uniform - I think that's when it started going downhill
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Old 6th Dec 2012, 08:44
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"747 Captain: Responsible for several hundred million dollars worth of machinery, several billion dollars worth of buildings/property (if flying over built up cities), 300+ people on board, and tens of thousands of people on the ground"

VLCC (Supertanker) Captain: Responsible for $140 million worth of machinery, $210 million worth of cargo, 25 lives onboard, Billions of dollars worth of clean up costs for the cargo, 1000's of lives if you hit a Passenger ship.

But Pilots are thought much more highly of.

Last edited by merch; 6th Dec 2012 at 09:35. Reason: Adjusted clean up costs
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Old 6th Dec 2012, 08:59
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I think the fundamental misunderstanding amongst non-pilots - should I say non airline pilots because I've heard this from PPLs too, is that the main part of the job is physically flying the aeroplane - hence the surprise at the amount we use the automatics and "So what do you do for the rest of the time then?"

Its hard to convince people that flying is only a tiny part of it and the world is so full of armchair experts who know better anyway...

We already have computers that fly aeroplanes, we've had them for well over half a century. What we don't yet have is one to operate an aeroplane in an acceptable manner, and when there are pax on board instead of bombs that's going to be quite a trick. It won't happen in the foreseeable future.
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Old 6th Dec 2012, 09:07
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Devil

Now I know alot of 'modern pilots' and they are good guys, but there is still an element of the profession who honestly think they are above everyone in the aviation industry.
I worked in the industry for over 22yrs and would say i have a broad spectrum of experience and knowledge, then I get asked by some snotty nosed Captain - "Do you know what you are doing?", which bugs me slightly and makes me understand the comments like "Glorified Bus Drivers" and "Premadonna Pilots" and "PIC = Pr##k in Command"....

Maybe if the minority were told by the majority to get their trim actuators out of their pants the public and industry perceptions would change for the good....
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Old 6th Dec 2012, 09:18
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aergid, I think things are different now. My mate is a retired BA captain (started on BEA Vanguards, then via 1-11s to long haul 747 and 76 / 77). He tells some terrible tales of stuck-up 'Nigels'.

My mate is from Newcastle and calls a spade a spade. When he was being checked out on the 747 his instructor was snotty short bloke who thought he was god but was actually a cr@p instructor. One morning my mate (who'd been a teacher before joining BEA so knew a bit about imparting knowledge) collared this guy by the steps:

"Listen matey, your job is to f*cking teach me to fly this f*cking aeroplane, and you haven't a f*cking clue! I'm learning f*ck all from you! You had better F*ucking change your attitude or I'm going straight back into that f*cking crew room to report you for incompetance".

After that all was well!

I think there are more guys like my mate in the job now that there are thos self-important 'Nigels'!

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Old 6th Dec 2012, 09:19
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I can't understand why you guys are so negative. The public may have a poor understanding of what being a line pilot actually entails they know they couldn't fly the thing so the underlying feeling is one of respect. This forum doesn't represent the general public.
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