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Automation vs Seat-of-the-pants-flying talking as devil's advocate - so no abuse plea

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Automation vs Seat-of-the-pants-flying talking as devil's advocate - so no abuse plea

Old 24th Jul 2013, 01:02
  #21 (permalink)  
 
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"But these are not pilotless planes, they are remotely-piloted planes."
For most "drones", that is correct. A better example is Global Hawk which is capable of taxiing out, taking off, flying its entire mission and landing -- all autonomously.

Commercial airliners will never go to pilotless operation in a single jump. It does seem unthinkable -- today.

But in 1958 if you told the proud five-man cockpit crew (pilot, co-pilot, flight engineer, navigator, radio operator) on a Lockheed Constellation that one day two-engine planes with only two cockpit crew would fly 8,000-mile non-stop trans-Pacific routes carrying nearly 400 passengers, they'd think you were crazy. If you told them each of the two engines would have 115,000 pounds thrust and the plane could essentially fly the entire route and land by itself, including automatic flare, landing, braking and rollout guidance in zero-zero conditions, they'd say you were certifiable.

Just as we didn't get from four-engine propliners with a five cockpit crew to a two-engine 777-300ER with a two cockpit crew in a single jump, we won't get to "pilotless" airliners in a single jump.

It also won't be done on today's technology but in evolutionary refinements of that.

The next step might be replacing the co-pilot with an on-call flight attendant trained for contingencies. That may seem humorous today -- if you're thinking only of today's technology and procedures. Any such step would be carefully studied, then tried on a very limited basis in strictly controlled conditions while gathering data. This is similar to how ETOPS was rolled out. You didn't go from four-engine trans-Pacific routes to two engines in a single jump.

Over an extended period, much attention will be given to contingencies and redundancy. They might incorporate satellite-linked remote piloting as a contingency. Whatever the path, it will be gradual, with each incremental step studied and tested.
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Old 24th Jul 2013, 02:14
  #22 (permalink)  
 
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"TRUST BUT VERIFY" FSF as quoted by Armchairflyer #18 above.

The statistics for pilots in the survey of 273 Pilots suggests that 82.5% were between the ages of 41 and 60.

The other 17.5% do not come in this age range, (and may be younger ?)

6.2% of all those surveyed stated that they used A/P as soon as possible after T/O.

12.1% kept the A/P on for as long as possible.

I wonder which age groups they came from.
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Old 24th Jul 2013, 04:07
  #23 (permalink)  
 
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mross,
In the early days of "glass", two new standard phrases were added to general flight deck use:
1) What's it doing to us now? and;
2) I've never seen that one before!
They are still in general day to day use, even after twenty five years plus.
Every time there is a new software load, there is an opportunity for new idiosyncrasies.
Remember, the software is only written by humans --- think of the flight deck crew as the final quality control gate for the software.
Pilots are going to be around for a very long times.
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Old 24th Jul 2013, 07:00
  #24 (permalink)  
 
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How many times does the automation intervene because the pilot is not doing what the automation philosophy demands? It is probably under reported.

From my perspective the automation has lead to increased safety in the last decade and the odd exceptions do not invalidate this perception.

Most car enthusiasts have had to acknowledge that they can't repair an engine problem on the side of the road any longer due to the sheer amount of electronics under the bonnet (hood, for the cousins) even on my diesel *Trabant*. But, you have to admit, modern cars are incredibly reliable, so it is a worthwhile trade.
Obviously not a pilot. Of course cars, where electronics have improved engine performance and suspension has improved safety, can merely be pulled over and left to be fixed instead of tweaking the distributor of wiggling the plug leads.

Automation, in the context of handflying, doesn't intervene to save the flight. Far and away the biggest safety improvements have been with safety systems eg GPWS, TCAS and database Constant Descent approaches. These are not automation.

As for "not invalidating your perception", ask the victims of the Turkish 737 or Asiana 214 accidents about what they perceive automation and it's deleterious effect on the ability of pilots to actually fly.
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Old 24th Jul 2013, 08:38
  #25 (permalink)  
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in twenty years, not today

My first post was meant to be provocative . But I did not say pilotless planes would be around soon, I said in less than twenty years. From the Wilbur brothers' flight to the Apollo moon landings was only 66 years and the pace of progress seems to be ever increasing.

@MurphyWasRright

Yes I had seen that story about Deer Trail. I will do some research but I thought the majority of piloted drones were lost in the landing phase and recall a loss rate of about 20%.

@Capn Bloggs

Are you saying that automation contributed to the Asiana 214 crash??? It sure looks like an automated landing would have prevented the crash. You make my argument for me! (with great respect sir, since I am only a PPL)

I wasn't comparing cars to planes directly, only making the point that the advanced technology has more advantages than disadvantages in terms of safety and reliability. ABS can diminish braking in soft snow but sooner or later the cars will 'learn' to deal with that.
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Old 24th Jul 2013, 09:17
  #26 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by RAT 5 View Post
If anyone knows how to post a link to the classic scene in Space Cowboys where Tommy Lee disconnects all the computers on the Space Shuttle for a landing. The young experience astronaut crew, on the jump seats, are horrified. Post it on here next to the 'Children of the magenta line' video. Next to that post a link to Asiana/SFO & THY/AMS. Then we'll have a view from both sides of the argument.

Yeah but didn't he stack it the first time?
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Old 24th Jul 2013, 09:32
  #27 (permalink)  
 
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True, but it is a tongue in cheek tilt at the button pushing philosophy and encourages practice to achieve more success.

I can't think of too many professions where the basic hands on skills of the chappie in 'supposed' control has diminished so much so fast. Comparisons would be interesting to note. How alone. or together, are we in this dilution of skill?
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Old 24th Jul 2013, 11:51
  #28 (permalink)  
 
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Yes I had seen that story about Deer Trail. I will do some research but I thought the majority of piloted drones were lost in the landing phase and recall a loss rate of about 20%.
Watching a UAV land is one of the most comical sights aviation has to offer.
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Old 24th Jul 2013, 13:31
  #29 (permalink)  
 
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Now, pilotless cargo planes? Ten years tops.
The USMC already operates such a thing. K-Max. Pilotless cargo hauling aircraft (helicopter)

I seem to recall that F-4 drones have been flying pilotless for some years at various weapons ranges for the USAF and the USN.

The tech to do this already exists. Has for some years.
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Old 24th Jul 2013, 14:35
  #30 (permalink)  
 
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Are you saying that automation contributed to the Asiana 214 crash??? It sure looks like an automated landing would have prevented the crash. You make my argument for me! (with great respect sir, since I am only a PPL)
Err, no, it is an obvious example of the deleterious effect of automation (using too much of it) on handflying skills.

Originally Posted by Rat 5
Tommy Lee disconnects all the computers on the Space Shuttle for a landing. The young experience astronaut crew, on the jump seats, are horrified.
As was R2D2:


Last edited by Capn Bloggs; 24th Jul 2013 at 14:37.
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Old 24th Jul 2013, 22:59
  #31 (permalink)  
 
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mross:
Are you saying that automation contributed to the Asiana 214 crash??? It sure looks like an automated landing would have prevented the crash. You make my argument for me! (with great respect sir, since I am only a PPL)
Of course automation would have prevented the accident. It does every day. But that wasn't an option since GS was AWOL.

Since you are relatively uncontaminated by auto-this/n/that, I contend that given a few manual landings in a 777 sim, you'd have a better-than-even chance of a completely successful manual landing at SFO 28L on a sunny day.
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Old 25th Jul 2013, 06:46
  #32 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by mross
Are you saying that automation contributed to the Asiana 214 crash??? It sure looks like an automated landing would have prevented the crash. You make my argument for me! (with great respect sir, since I am only a PPL)
Well, mross, in a way "automation" did certainly contribute to the Asiana crash. It's obvious that the pilots where relying on the auto-thrust system to keep their approach speed for them, while failing to monitor the airspeed. Much like what happened to the Turkish 737 in Amsterdam. The Turkish WAS on the ils with the automatics switched on, but still that didn't save them. On the contrary! The Turkish crew still had the excuse that the A/thr did not perform as designed, because of a failure of the radio altimeter system. Most probably, the final report in the Asiana crash will say that the crew mismanaged the a/thr system. No hardware failure involved.

I'm sure that if the Asiana crew had tried to fly the approach with a/thr off like in a Cessna, they would not have crashed! (Even if they were very rusty in flying without A/thr)

So, yes, in a way one could say that automation (or the overreliance on it) was a big contribution to the crash. We'll talk again when the final report is out.

You might be interested in what my former Sabena colleague, now Airbus' Jacques Drappier has to say about the lack of basic piloting skills.
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Old 25th Jul 2013, 08:24
  #33 (permalink)  
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to Sabenaboy

It's a mistake to blame the automation! The auto throttle was effectively off (wrong mode). This was the pilots' fault. The automation did not fail. It only failed to do what was expected. (Of course the investigation may tell us a lot that we don't know yet) but we are on this website to idly speculate - well I am anyway and also to learn from pilots who are well informed.

I do accept that too much automation will dilute pilots' flying skills but I don't agree that automation is to blame for this accident. It is obviously risky to fly in mixed mode when it is not well understood (again this is speculation).
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Old 25th Jul 2013, 15:01
  #34 (permalink)  
 
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Kefuddle

Watching a UAV land is one of the most comical sights aviation has to offer.
Laugh away at this carrier landing then:
First Arrested Landing of a Tailless Unmanned Aircraft Aboard an Aircraft Carrier | UAS VISION

UAS have come a long way. There are now several pilot optional UAS as well such as 'Little Bird'
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Old 25th Jul 2013, 15:32
  #35 (permalink)  
 
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UAV

Just an update for those of you who have not caught the news the X47b a drone with a 60+ foot wingspan has taken off and landed on a carrier. Manned military flight is about to end, soon. F4 Phantoms are being turned into drones to aid in training with weapons systems (we are automating them just to shoot them down). The reliability of UAV craft is getting much better, public perception of the ability to land on a carrier will certainly increase confidence as they are marketed to the civil sector..............Ian beat me to it.

Last edited by grounded27; 25th Jul 2013 at 15:33.
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Old 26th Jul 2013, 02:07
  #36 (permalink)  
 
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The original post highlights a (quite common) lack of understanding when it comes to the differentiation between automation (i.e. autopilot/FMS) and modern flight control architecture with things like flight envelope protection.

Automation is for the most part either on or off, and will not "correct" a pilot when engaged, because the pilot has delegated control to the automation. Envelope protection and the like is a different matter entirely, and only enters into the equation extremely rarely.
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Old 26th Jul 2013, 14:14
  #37 (permalink)  
 
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Automation vs Seat-of-the-pants-flying

I'd like to point out to our OP that he might want to learn a few things about flying before making such a post, or such a title.

The thread is headed by a false dichotomy.

Seat-of-the-pants flying can get you killed whether you have automation or not. Death spiral in IMC flying due to failure to have an instrument scan working, or the correct instruments available for IMC flying, has nothing to do with automation, or its lack. RIP JFK's son.

Automation can kill you if you don't know how it works and make an incorrect choice, regardless of what flight regime you are in.

If the tension you wish to explore is between hand flying and automation, fine.

Seat of the pants is THE WRONG TERM to use here. Use of an integrated scan is what professional pilots apply when hand flying.

That is all.

Last edited by Lonewolf_50; 26th Jul 2013 at 14:16.
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Old 26th Jul 2013, 16:02
  #38 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by Lonewolf_50 View Post
Seat of the pants is THE WRONG TERM to use here. Use of an integrated scan is what professional pilots apply when hand flying.
Exactly. I kept my input regarding the OP to the technical side in the hope that a pilot such as yourself would point this out. Nice one.
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Old 26th Jul 2013, 16:21
  #39 (permalink)  
 
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Settle troops. The intent of the OP is pretty obvious.

Actually, I find those who are good at seat-of-the-pants flying produce the result best down final when the machine is pitching about and the autothrottle is working hard (or it's out). Immediately reacting when you feel the @rse falling out of the aircraft instead waiting for the sight picture to change always produces a better outcome.
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Old 26th Jul 2013, 16:37
  #40 (permalink)  
 
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Agreed. That "sense" comes with practice.
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