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Automation Bogie raises it's head yet again

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Automation Bogie raises it's head yet again

Old 28th Dec 2010, 02:51
  #21 (permalink)  
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An advanced autopilot is a major bonus during an emergency as it reduces the workload of simply keeping the aircraft flying safely, enabling more attention to be devoted to dealing with the problem. These days airspace is more complicated and congested. Tolerences are more critical and setting up an approach much more involved.
Depends entirely what sort of emergency or just merely the garden variety "Non-Normal" like a generator, pack, uncommanded pressurisation and so on.

The discussion is more about an undue attraction to automatics like the example I observed when a crew took up an instrument approach holding pattern using the magenta line and heading bug to trace their flight path over the magenta line holding pattern.

Pity that a minor programming error placed the holding fix which was a VOR, some 15 miles from the actual VOR and that over the fix the VOR/DME showed 15 DME which you would have thought would have picked up by the crew as somewhat unusual. At the same time the VOR/RMI needle was pointing to where the actual VOR was 15 miles away.

Fortunately it was in the simulator since the real aircraft would have eventually flown into a nearby mountain caused by the crew blindly following a false position magenta line. The reluctance of some crews to cross check frequently with basic navaids during even a normal flight is symptomatic of the inherent dangers of automation complacency. It is plain laziness.

When in the simulator, you see an experienced pilot furiously programming a visual circuit into the FMC, when in the first place all he was asked for, was a take off climb to 1500 ft, turn downwind at 30 degrees angle of bank, maintaining 2 mile spacing from the runway clearly visible from his seat using raw data and manual flying with no autothrottle, turn base and land - all in CAVOK - then you have now seen the archetypal automatics dependant pilot.
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Old 28th Dec 2010, 03:37
  #22 (permalink)  
 
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Just out of interest...

Is the birdy (FPV we call it on the 777) purely derived through the IRS's? or is there some ADC input?
My company has done the delightful thing of removing the performance inflight section of the ORH on the 777.
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Old 28th Dec 2010, 03:50
  #23 (permalink)  
 
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Air Crash Observer: Pilots out of Control on Autopilot
In March 2010 India's aviation regulator said that most pilots in the country are not adequately trained to fly an aircraft in the automated mode, which is used on half of all domestic flights. "From now on they should fly their aircraft only in the manual mode until they train their pilots to operate the automated technology," said the Directorate General of Civil Aviation.
I wonder how many other nations this applies to also and if the bean counters have their way then it could happen elsewhere.
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Old 28th Dec 2010, 03:55
  #24 (permalink)  
 
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All pilots should have the ability to take over from an autopilot and be able to control the aircraft AND THINK at the same time.

Manual flying skills can only be acquired and kept by practice. I first discovered this as we transitioned to glass cockpits. After a few months of mostly autopilot use I found my manual flying skills were not up to my standards. I then started doing more manual flying and less autopilot use which corrected the problem. Since manual skills may be needed at altitude as well as other times your practice should include cruise too. By manual flying I mean no autopilot or autothrottles.

It must be realized that if your manual skills are rusty it will take more mental capability to fly the aircraft and leave less mental prowess to think about your next course of action or how to correct whatever problem you are dealing with. Your manual skills should be almost second nature. Do what ever it takes to accomplish that and when the day comes and its your turn to do your best to save a ship you will be ready.
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Old 28th Dec 2010, 06:07
  #25 (permalink)  
 
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I wonder how many other nations this applies to also and if the bean counters have their way then it could happen elsewhere.
Indian aviation is a constant source of entertaining issues, such as widespread logbook fraud.

It's not a "beancounter" issue. No airline attempts to save money by failing to train it's crews on aircraft systems (including automation). It doesn't cost any more; there's nothing to be saved by not emphasizing full useage. Indian aviation has never been the gold standard for training, competence, veracity, honesty, or transparency. In a country where everybody in the business likes to call themselves "commander this," or "colonel that," "wing commander," "air commander, or some other ridiculous and pretentious title, you have a cultural issue, not an accounting one.

The thread is about over-reliance on automation, not about lack of training in it. The problem, if indeed such is the case, isn't lack of training in automation, but if anything not enough emphasis on basic raw flying skills. This may be owing in some cases to operators that insist on the maximum usage of automation to provide the smoothest flight for passengers, to some pilots who simply use it more out of preference or habit.

A change that I noted during my last recurrent session was that we've eliminated the requirement to conduct a raw data approach during the checkride. This wasn't an economic issue, but a change incorporated by the FAA to reflect real-world conditions; new procedures were added with changes in additional authorizations. No training costs were saved, but changes were incorporated. Personally, I'd prefer to see us retain the raw data procedures, but it's not my call. It's not the "beancounter's" call, either.

"Beancounters" don't run training departments.
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Old 28th Dec 2010, 06:26
  #26 (permalink)  
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At the end of the day, those pilots that have spend years hand flying, will not have a mental demand-overload if they suddenly have to grab the controls.

The thousands of hours I spent on Viscounts, Heralds and F27s, left me with an autopilot somewhere in my brain. After 5 years of not flying, I suddenly found myself height-holding to the thickness of the needle, without really thinking about it. I was typical of every single pilot I flew with in those days.

Summer nights on Viscounts without radar were something of a baptism of fire for young pilots. The guy in the left was just glad he didn't have to avoid flack, so when in the middle of a CB, the horizon bar became lost behind the edges, he would think little of it. It was also a good education in containing one's fear.

I would hate those days to return, but what has taken its place is some kind of hybrid operation - neither skilled master of the machine, or possessor of a computer that is capable of calling on a wide enough spectrum of learned data. It is not a desirable compromise.
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Old 28th Dec 2010, 07:49
  #27 (permalink)  
 
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Capn Bloggs:
I disagree. This is all about crews being unfamiliar enough with handflying that they get themselves into bother when they have to so they leave hte AP in for too long.
Then I'm afraid you haven't read the concerned AD. It says:

AD No.: 2010-0271:
When there are significant differences between all airspeed sources, the
flight controls of an Airbus A330 or A340 aeroplane will revert to alternate
law, the autopilot (AP) and the auto-thrust (A/THR) automatically disconnect,
and the Flight Directors (FD) bars are automatically removed.
It is - in this case - not about leaving the AP in for too long, but for re-engaging it again before proper trouble shooting has been done. This is a clear issue of proper failure handling and good CRM and not about over-reliance on automatics.

Dani
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Old 28th Dec 2010, 07:51
  #28 (permalink)  

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Originally Posted by Dani View Post
While I fully appreciate the discussion whether automatics are good or bad or both, and I can understand some people's concern about pilots loosing pilot's skills, I must say that this AD has nothing to do with it!
Thank you Dani, voice of reason at last. Loose Rivets, you have one too sir.

Loss or lack of manual skills is an issue, but Colgan will not be prevented by mandating 1500 hrs. Why not 1550? Recognizing approach to stall and proper stall recovery is mandatory task pre-solo, at 10 hrs total.

FTOs are historically called schools but they are quite far from it, normal businesses run for profit. Why fight the syndromes and not cure the diesease? Do teach pilots in traning and screen them properly? LH does it right, tight selection, stringent pass rules and 250 FOs are ready for the job in a novice position. Any airline could do the same, should they decide to do so.

Low hour RYR FO in Ciampino landed 737 uneventfully single-pilot, I applaud him/her. The pilot was trained for such task, and performed well. There's nothing heroic about it yet it speaks clearly about his training.

LH again, cross-wired sidestick, FO saves the day by using a learned technique.

Kos hard landing clearly uncovered discontinuity in follow-up on training progress. No amount hand flown of hours will substitute that. Yes, the trainee may be slow to acquire skill and need more hours to reach the target, but ultimately it is the pass-grade process which failed.

Prescribing 500 simulator landings will not cure that, faster learners will be unnecessarily tied to the box at immense cost and pilot who needs 600 of them will still be held short.

My 2c
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PS: As noted in the beginning loss of manual flying is an issue. I believe it is not the issue which bends metal. Let's read again on A340 in Toronto, AA in Jamaica, Garuda in Jogjakarta and Southwest in Midway. Or Little Rock, mother of all that (still) goes wrong. Drilling holes in the sky, even manual raw data NPAs in limiting conditions will not improve that. Sure it builds confidence but overconfidence is what kills people. Pilot that can professionally perform V1 cut and OEI landing as well as handle manual reversion is ready to fly the line, ready to learn the line. Provided that his previous training did not leave terra incognita elsewhere in the required knowledge.
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Old 28th Dec 2010, 08:06
  #29 (permalink)  
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Originally Posted by Dani
It is - in this case - not about leaving the AP in for too long, but for re-engaging it again before proper trouble shooting has been done. This is a clear issue of proper failure handling and good CRM and not about over-reliance on automatics.
- part I I agree with, but the last phrase (my bold) not. We need to identify (and gently coax away) the source of the mindset that needs to re-engage the A/P with 'unseemly haste'.
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Old 28th Dec 2010, 08:39
  #30 (permalink)  

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Originally Posted by BOAC View Post
We need to identify (and gently coax away) the source of the mindset that needs to re-engage the A/P with 'unseemly haste'.
Exactly as you speak, BOAC, all agreed. The automation is not the problem, it is a just a simple tool. When NDBs came, all learned that the tool has limitations, i.e. the night shift (my english vocabulary reached limits here). Same for ILS false lobes. Training against autopilot misbehaviour is only half the story. Back to basics, it is a triangle: man-task-machine. Once this is explained, cockpit automation becomes just another tool just like a power steering on a car. Those not trained for AP use may face dire consequences one day. Not the consequences of AP, but consequences of their inproper understanding.

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Last edited by FlightDetent; 28th Dec 2010 at 14:12.
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Old 28th Dec 2010, 09:29
  #31 (permalink)  
 
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In March 2010 India's aviation regulator said that most pilots in the country are not adequately trained to fly an aircraft in the automated mode, which is used on half of all domestic flights. "From now on they should fly their aircraft only in the manual mode until they train their pilots to operate the automated technology," said the Directorate General of Civil Aviation.
Now that will be interesting, manually flying new generation aircraft, designed to be operated with the automatics.

Congested airspace, overworked controllers, poor infrastructure in most of the country and the regulator wants to remove the automation and have everyone flying by hand.

Get rid of all the expat pilots and rapidly promote the youngsters with little experience in either manual or automated environments.

Now where did I put my wizz wheel ?
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Old 28th Dec 2010, 11:08
  #32 (permalink)  
 
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In my view following such airspeed anomalies it would be better for the 'system' not to disengage but to degrade to a basic attitude and thrust hold mode accompanied by a pretty serious warning about what was going on.
I fully agree !!!
I'm glad to see this proposed by someone who knows what he is talking about and who himself surely wouldn't need this help but appreciates that it would improve overall safety.
It would buy the surprised crew precious time to sort things out.

IMHO it is not really helpful in today's airliners that once the regular automation gives up, a possibly mis- trimmed aircraft in dangerous (and potentially unclear) attitude and maybe config is handed back to completely puzzled pilots.

Admittedly it requires reliable attitude information but if that is lost also manual flying won't save the day....
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Old 28th Dec 2010, 11:51
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Lack of manual skills

This trend has been a long time coming.
I was admonished in BA by the Route Check Capt 10 years ago for hand flying to 10000ft in severe CAVOK departing from a very sleepy Carib airport.
He said on the B744, we should always use maximum automatics to avoid overloading the NHP!.
I believe that on the BA B777 even when manual flying, use of the A/T is mandatory, so you can't win.
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Old 28th Dec 2010, 12:19
  #34 (permalink)  
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Friend of mine undertook his first simulator assessment session (A320)after arrival with an Indonesian low cost carrier. He had 16,000 hours mainly 757/767 and a type rating A320 simulator only. Cleared for take off with left turn (simulator) under visual day conditions. Just before bending the aircraft around to the designated heading at 2000 ft, he glanced over his shoulder in a reflex action to check all clear for traffic.

Immediately the Indonesian check captain stopped the simulator and demanded an explanation of why the pilot checked all clear before commencing the turn. The astonished pilot said it was good airmanship to have a look if visual conditions and that he had done this for years.
The check captain said "You should never look outside for traffic- you should always rely on TCAS to warn you of traffic". Another case of automation gone mad. And they walk among us in Indonesia....
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Old 28th Dec 2010, 12:38
  #35 (permalink)  
 
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" he glanced over his shoulder in a reflex action to check all clear for traffic. "

Don't know about the rest of this crazy world, but this is EXACTLY how I was trained during my initial PPL flight training!
ALWAYS look BEFORE turning/climbing/descending (as much as possible) - radar/TCAS is great....but NOT fool proof!
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Old 28th Dec 2010, 13:20
  #36 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by cessnapete View Post
The BA B777 even when manual flying, use of the A/T is mandatory, so you can't win.
How the heck does that work in the event of unreliable airspeed ? A/T carries on setting thrust based on known bad air data ?!

Or is it that sometimes A/T will drop out, but you can't force it to drop out ? I thought one of the key issues of the great A v B FBW debate was that B allowed you to override it ?
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Old 28th Dec 2010, 13:33
  #37 (permalink)  
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The check captain said "You should never look outside for traffic- you should always rely on TCAS to warn you of traffic". Another case of automation gone mad. And they walk among us in Indonesia....
I guess the buzzards and other large birds of prey have transponders strapped to them !

If that's the attitude, then it's just a matter of time before there's a mid air collision.
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Old 28th Dec 2010, 14:00
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just how quickly have we forgotten the Brazil tragedy, in which TCAS didn't work because of lack of transponder signal from one plane.

just be a good pilot...look around...oh and for birds...if you bank sharply, you may take the engines out of the plane of the bird formation.

think about it.
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Old 28th Dec 2010, 14:37
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The BA B777 even when manual flying, use of the A/T is mandatory, so you can't win.

How the heck does that work in the event of unreliable airspeed ? A/T carries on setting thrust based on known bad air data ?!
No need to get worked up about A vs. B or not being able to disconnect the Autothrottle. For normal ops the BA 777 SOP is indeed to use the Autothrottle at all times when it's available and functioning correctly, however in the event of unreliable airspeed indications one of the several initial actions is to disengage the Autothrottle and use "manual" power.
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Old 28th Dec 2010, 15:14
  #40 (permalink)  
 
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It must be realized that if your manual skills are rusty it will take more mental capability to fly the aircraft and leave less mental prowess to think about your next course of action or how to correct whatever problem you are dealing with. Your manual skills should be almost second nature. Do what ever it takes to accomplish that and when the day comes and its your turn to do your best to save a ship you will be ready.
Very true, such basic skills are and need to be "fully automated" tasks. No pilot (or whatever operator of almost any complex set of tasks) would be able to fly efficiently without having these skills as totally action models. The psychological load would simply be to great if every single action would be a considered response to a megaload of sensory inputs.

Having lost your level of "human automation" will not only make you slow to react, it also will make you bad to handle any additional stress factors.
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