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Why is automation dependency encouraged in modern aviation ?

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Why is automation dependency encouraged in modern aviation ?

Old 26th Nov 2020, 09:28
  #41 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by FlightDetent View Post
Correction: You could easily fly the "raw data" curved RNAV - on a good day. Us, the global pool of average pilots having weak days now and then, could not without adversely affecting some of the statistics.

Either case, such an exercise would be worthwhile to the pilot and unnecessary burden to the flight operations at the same time.
Despite what I sometimes like to imagine, I assure you that my skill set is somewhere between average and the median. I assure you, if I could manage it, anyone else here would be capable of doing it as well.
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Old 26th Nov 2020, 11:28
  #42 (permalink)  
 
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Some of the restriction may come from Performance Based Navigation - RNAV and RNP - require the aircraft to stay within a certain margin for separation purpose, both to terrain and other traffic?

Cause then ATC can work.... shall we say.... hands off
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Old 26th Nov 2020, 12:12
  #43 (permalink)  
 
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KeepItStraight, #39, even with generalisation, you perpetuate a myth.

Increasingly the 'lead' time in designing and producing a new aircraft is tens of years; requiring foresight of operations, traffic, density, economics, and system technologies.

A wide ranging view as a pilot, 'in research', 'in design', development and certification, in sales, customer support - flying down the line, and finally safety, there is no single view of todays so-called automation dependancy.
Viewpoints are according to experience; we 'pilots' are a major contributor to the perception of modern problems - is automation dependency a problem, or is our perception a problem. Humans are poor at foreseeing the future, also judging the current status against what many years ago was / was not 'foreseen'; we forget, we don't wish to remember.

A defining technological 'milestone' was the Advance Flight Deck research simulation; 45 years ago, its excellence recognised by the Smithsonian. Revolutionary use of CRTs, highly automated for economic operation in high density, noise abate, low vis operations. World wide pilot assessment fell into two groups. The old school, P1only, hand-fly anything. And those aware of future context, situation management, automated systems, and workload. These groups were geographically divided, divisions which can still be identified, where manufactures still have to satisfy both.

Beware of generalisations; what we look for is often what we find. And when considering the situation today, question the history; is this what we asked for, foresaw, if not why not. Also consider inherent bias of what we believe to be the future - something which we should have now, or should be doing now.
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Old 26th Nov 2020, 16:09
  #44 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by KeepItStraight View Post
Aircraft are designed by engineers and flown by pilots.

I know I'm generalising but with no disrespect to either profession both professions can have quite a different perspective on how an aircraft should be operated or how valuable (or useless and distracting) certain whiz bang equipment can be in differing circumstances.
Totally agreed KeepItStraight - and that’s why Aircrew are ……. or should be ……. deeply involved in design work from the very start of a new Programme or even a very simple Mod. However, it's a bit of a nightmare for even a small Mod.

Worked on Mil programmes where aircrew were involved right from Day 1, as were, for e.g., Maintenance Engineers …. who are a very different breed to Design Engineers (who differ again to Production Engineers) – as anyone who has done Aircraft Maintenance will testify!! “What idiot put that Hydraulic Acc charging point there???!!”. Weapons Teams were another area usually well represented.

Sadly, "availability" of SQEP input was sometimes an issue at key moments. And I (as Customer) even found absolute blinders on the early Production Line where the Production Teams have been doing something because "that's what the Drawing said to do" despite it being blindingly wrong! Drawing been up-issued but not disseminated? Ah, that'll be why!!! Cue H 'n' H being chucked off the site so that his Host could go and murder a few people for not spotting (and/or not doing anything about) the obvious!

Other times the issue was to make those Pilots involved aware of how vital their early input was. A good Test Pilot lead was vital so that they could “encourage” their peers along the way (ie drag them to yet another Design Review meeting and demand their respective views!). In fairness, it generally worked well from my limited dealings - but, even then, things got missed. And you really need Line Pilots involved to QA what the Test Pilots have proposed as, even there, expectations differ! The list of "stakeholders" is quite staggering - even on a relatively small Mod!

What really doesn’t help is when arbitrary “pressure” comes in from Commercial – such as we had with Southwest(?) and the MAX and a “no training” clause. Safety Reviews are ripe areas for “This is a Safety Issue! Oh no it isn’t! Oh yes it is!”-type arguments as it is! Very heated those can be!!!!

Originally Posted by KayPam View Post
.... The MAX had a system that was so well designed to assist the crew that it sent two airplanes down in less than six months (with a fleet of 200 and a few aircraft).........
I guess, in the full automation case, unlike the MAX debacle, they won't be able to blame the Pilots for a dubious design failure and so will ground the fleet to find out what caused it! Or is that H 'n' H being a cynic? In all a fascinating Thread so TY to the OP!
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Old 26th Nov 2020, 16:27
  #45 (permalink)  
 
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Aircraft are designed by engineers and flown by pilots.
Airbus FBW was designed by Bernard Ziegler who was an engineer, fighter pilot and test pilot.
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Old 26th Nov 2020, 16:28
  #46 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by alf5071h View Post
KeepItStraight, #39, even with generalisation, you perpetuate a myth.

Increasingly the 'lead' time in designing and producing a new aircraft is tens of years; requiring foresight of operations, traffic, density, economics, and system technologies.

Beware of generalisations; what we look for is often what we find. And when considering the situation today, question the history; is this what we asked for, foresaw, if not why not. Also consider inherent bias of what we believe to be the future - something which we should have now, or should be doing now.
I think that what KeepItStraight says is correct within the context being used - as my Post above expands on but citing differences even in the Engineering fraternity!

Now, I believe that you bring up a further very valid issue in that, for any development, the technological complexity and rate of change (both of technology and the environment it needs to operate in - in all it's aspects as you clearly identify in your Para 2) makes it even more complex. To an extent, technology will lead capability. Who foresaw the explosion in consumer electronics? Until the chip was designed, the capabilities were impossible to achieve on the scale we have today. A key change I think is, more and more, civil R&D is starting to lead mil R&D.

I do like your last para as that hits the nail on the head - in many ways, the ability to manage/control change is limited by human capacity to process all the factors and rationalise them to an optimum conclusion. That's where AI is leading I guess, realising that, even controlling the advancement of technology is becoming beyond human capacity!

Interesting debate! I'll let others have their say as that's just my view!
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Old 26th Nov 2020, 16:34
  #47 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by theFirstDave View Post
Get yourself in a a piston plane (SE or light twin) and haul VFR around the LAX area. That'll get your PIC skills a workout and give you a boat load of situation awareness, energy management experience and more.

At the very least, it'll be fun again.
Also, earlier it was suggested that you can get into a glider to keep up your manual skills. And while I'm a supporter of both, it would be an onerous demand for most people's lives. But luckily, you can still go a very long way very much easier, by flying the jet at work! (And by that I mean at some altitudes above 1000, to include some level-offs, level turns, speed changes, flap changes, localizer and GS intercepts... even in IMC!)
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Old 26th Nov 2020, 21:16
  #48 (permalink)  
 
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Why? Because it means less go arounds and more situational awareness and less workload. If you engage at 1000ft and disconnect at 500ft every time chances are there will be a lot less mistakes than flying manually. I personally enjoy doing manual sids and approaches with FD on but still anyone can follow a FD and do well.
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Old 26th Nov 2020, 21:45
  #49 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by Negan View Post
Why? Because it means less go arounds and more situational awareness and less workload. If you engage at 1000ft and disconnect at 500ft every time chances are there will be a lot less mistakes than flying manually.
This is true, but it only considers the set of flights where the automation is available and working correctly. Is that the only set of flights that should be considered?
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Old 26th Nov 2020, 23:43
  #50 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by Negan View Post
Why? Because it means less go arounds and more situational awareness and less workload. If you engage at 1000ft and disconnect at 500ft every time chances are there will be a lot less mistakes than flying manually. I personally enjoy doing manual sids and approaches with FD on but still anyone can follow a FD and do well.
Also a lot higher chance that your skills will deteriorate to the point that they can no longer be relied upon. Would you rather have another go-around, or fill out paperwork after the incident/accident?

What's wrong with a go-around anyway?
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Old 27th Nov 2020, 00:02
  #51 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by theFirstDave View Post
I am a (retired) Controls Electrical Engineer (Sr. Controls and Instrumentation). I designed and implement mega-million dollar systems. But I also know how to wire panels, bend conduit and solder breadboards. My job didn't need me to do it, but as I came up through the ranks (starting as an electrician) I kept my skills up. Others never acquired the manual skills as they jumped from college to design.

I am also a Private Pilot. All my flying is manual. I use VOR's, no ATH, no AP, no FD. Yes, at sometimes I am near overload. I won't fly into some places without a second set of hands / eyes with me. The most amount of automation I have is a Garmin GPS that also will warn me of terrane.

So, how to get the ATP guy some experience other than engaging AP at 400' and just twirling dials until you're on short final? Get yourself in a a piston plane (SE or light twin) and haul VFR around the LAX area. That'll get your PIC skills a workout and give you a boat load of situation awareness, energy management experience and more.

At the very least, it'll be fun again.
Why do I get the feeling the real purpose of this thread is for non-airline and non-commercial pilots to boast they are “real pilots” and airline pilots are nothing more than children of magenta? To sneer down and smugly educate your airline brethren as if they cannot fly anymore? Are you guys jealous on missing out on the big leagues?

As far as lack of hand flying goes, I say it’s not a problem. There is little hand flying value to be gained anyway when the aircraft is in a stable climb or descent. The real value of manual manipulation skills are shown on an approach onto a short runway in gusty, wind shear or variable wind conditions. Hit the main gear on the markers and then exit first available taxiway as there’s another aircraft close up your backside. Won’t be able to do that unless you have good manual skills, yet airline pilots do it everyday all over the world without applause, even the so called “children of magenta”. I’d say less than 0.5% of landings are Autoland, and a auto land is pretty useless in all but the calmest wind conditions anyway.

In my opinion the biggest problems encountered on the flight deck are non technical factors, pilots with bad attitudes and poor teamwork skills, they totally dwarf any bad issues that exist with manual flying.

I think there’s too much bashing of airline pilots nowadays, primarily motivated by jealousy or maybe an older generation who just can’t let go of their glory days.
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Old 27th Nov 2020, 03:19
  #52 (permalink)  
 
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Interesting debate! I'll let others have their say as that's just my view!
Simulator instructors in the job full time could write a book on what they occasionally witness in the horror box. But the risk of hurt feelings and subsequent danger of litigation are always there. There was one event I saw however, that will forever stick in my mind. The automation was perfect but it was the flight crew handling of an unexpected slight technical defect that was the worry. This event convinced me not only of the pressing need for airline pilots to maintain raw data manual flying competency but of the ever present insidious effect in some countries of ethnic culture when it comes to flight safety mores.

I was briefed to give experienced military trained crews of a large Asian country two hours of general handling on the Boeing 737 Classic simulator. An interpreter was provided who sat on the jump seat while I occupied the instructor panel position. Part of the exercise was a standard ILS procedurally flown. The first thing I noticed after takeoff was both pilots flew with their hands firmly on their knees from the time the captain engaged the autopilot to the end of the session. After any autopilot mod selection their hands went straight back to the knees.

During the autopilot flying via a DME arc to intercept the localiser, I asked the interpreter to tell the captain (PF) it might be wise to have one hand on the thrust levers during the ILS rather than both hands on his knees. This advice was obviously rejected by the captain who was chief pilot of the company. As the aircraft was descending during the DME arc the autothrottle had commanded the thrust levers to idle. Speed was initially 210 knots clean. IMC conditions prevailed. Nil wind. On the instructor panel I actuated failure of the No 1 engine throttle clutch motor. There is no QRH item for this type of fault as it would be considered normal good airmanship to pick up any split between the two thrust levers when it occurred.

At the appropriate time in the ILS, the PF requested flap and gear extension and the PM made the selections and placed his hands back on his knees. As airspeed was reduced and drag increased, the autothrottle system increased power to maintain correct approach speed. However only the No 2 thrust lever moved. The No 1 thrust lever remained at idle because its clutch motor was inoperative. The autopilot now coupled to the ILS, applied significant aileron to stop the increasing asymmetric roll due to one engine at idle thrust and the other engine at 75% N1 trying to maintain selected speed. Rudder pedals were central as they were not part of the autopilot. Both pilots had their hands still on their knees and not a word passed between them despite the obvious indications of something drastically wrong.

Midway down the ILS I tapped the interpreter on the shoulder and in English told her to tell the captain to look at the throttles which had a large split, as well has the control wheel showing 45 degrees of roll application. Hardly had the interpreter done so when the autopilot decided enough was enough and disengaged itself. The aircraft began a rapid roll to the left and the nose dropped. Despite this, both pilots kept their hands on their knees and said nothing. The captain seeing the closed left throttle then announced "Engine Failure - checklist" in his native language but made no attempt to manually correct the increasing roll and spiral dive. He kept his hands on his knees and his feet on the rudders but without applying any correction.

The PF groped around to locate the QRH which was on the floor next to him. He frantically flipped the pages of the QRH while seemingly oblivious to the flight instruments indication of 60 degrees angle of bank, a high rate of dsecent, a GPWS warning and the closed throttle of No 1 engine and the high power indication of No 2 engine. All the while, the captain who seemed frozen in indecision kept his own hands on his knees shouting in his own language "Checklist - Checklist - Hurry up - hurry up!"

It was now clear to me that crew coordination had completely broken down and the aircraft would crash within seconds. I "froze" the simulator, lowered the drawbridge and told the interpreter to have the crew meet me in the coffee room for a chat. Frankly, I was at loss for words. These two pilots included the chief pilot and if he couldn't fly a 737 then what of the rest of the ten pilots who had come a long way to use my company's full flight simulator. The interpreter who spoke perfect English was equally dismayed; after all he was going to be the bearer of bad news to the captain. The interpreter was in an invidious position. I envisaged him being shot or worse, as a witness to a calamity in the simulator.

I decided it would be better for all concerned to run a completely neutral de-briefing and carefully avoid any criticism of either pilot. Loss of face in their culture was important to avoid. I did say, however, it was probably a good idea for the PF to retain one hand on the throttles during an instrument approach. The captain briefly nodded his head after the interpreter had passed on this advice. while the PM sipped his coffee with one hand and kept the other hand on his knee. In some parts of the world, cultural mores win over flight safety every time..

Last edited by Centaurus; 27th Nov 2020 at 05:52.
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Old 27th Nov 2020, 04:04
  #53 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by dr dre View Post
As far as lack of hand flying goes, I say it’s not a problem. There is little hand flying value to be gained anyway when the aircraft is in a stable climb or descent. The real value of manual manipulation skills are shown on an approach onto a short runway in gusty, wind shear or variable wind conditions. Hit the main gear on the markers and then exit first available taxiway as there’s another aircraft close up your backside. Won’t be able to do that unless you have good manual skills, yet airline pilots do it everyday all over the world without applause, even the so called “children of magenta”. I’d say less than 0.5% of landings are Autoland, and a auto land is pretty useless in all but the calmest wind conditions anyway.
That’s why it’s skills, plural. Yes many airline pilots are skilled at landing reasonably accurate in a gusty crosswind (which is itself a combination of a few sub-skills) but isn’t there more to flying than that? Does flying begin when you’re delivered onto a 3 mile final on the GS, configured and trimmed with the thrust set?

Earlier you only looked for hand flying value in a stable climb or descent, and I’d agree that some pitch slop there, where the only consequence may be 10 or 20 knots, is probably not consequential, and the correction to that can be so slow as to not be felt in the back. But how about level flight, where an altitude error of 1 or 2 hundred feet is much more glaring? And where ham-handed corrections lead to a jerky ride? How about flap changes, where separate slat and flap movements can require a carefully timed sequence of anticipated corrections, and corresponding thrust? Or, even better, in a turn where you also have to maintain altitude? Or intercepting the localizer where you want to do it ideally without five S-turns? Shouldn’t one be proficient at of all those things?

I would hope.

But we have crashes like Indian 605 where in a perfect plane on a clear day, they fell into mode confusion on the approach and couldn’t bring themselves to just fly the airplane, instead trying to untangle the modes all the way into the crash. Or, Flash 604 where in IMC the AP failed to engage on departure, and instead of flying the plane they maintained a panicked and sustained effort to engage it, again all the way into the crash. Or, Asiana 214, with again a perfect plane on a perfect day where, unlike the other 2 examples and to their credit, they clicked the red button and decided to fly the airplane. But in doing so, they were so overwhelmed by suddenly being thrown into the pilot’s seat that they didn’t didn’t have the task capacity to make a single trim change over two flap changes and 30 pounds of added stick force! Etc. etc.

So I think that the maintenance of a level of comfort and willingness to fly the airplane when required, including at sudden provocation, is not too much to ask for. And, living every day in a world where it’s as rare as hen’s teeth to see someone fly it above 1000 feet, and seeing example after bewildering example of accidents like these, I don’t feel this general comfort level around me. I have to disagree with your evaluation that “it’s not a problem.”

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Old 27th Nov 2020, 04:06
  #54 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by Centaurus View Post
while the PM sipped his coffee with one hand and the other hand on his knee.

Best possible punchline to this story, I literally LOL’ed. (after, and before, crying)
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Old 27th Nov 2020, 04:07
  #55 (permalink)  
 
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Centaurs, it must have been long time ago at a time when aviation was new in the country you're referring to. Well things have definitely changed for the better. In the last ten years I have conducted type rating for pilots of ten Asian countries and I didn't find find any cultural traits that overruled or interfered with aircraft procedures. Yes! some of them are sensitive and physical touch even friendly etc is discomforting to them. As Instructors it can become problematic if the ethnic groups are switched. But then it's occupational Hazzard.
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Old 27th Nov 2020, 05:29
  #56 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by Centaurus View Post

Simulator instructors in the job full time could write a book on what they occasionally witness in the horror box. But the risk of hurt feelings and subsequent danger of litigation are always there. There was one event I saw however, that will forever stick in my mind. The automation was perfect but it was the flight crew handling of an unexpected slight technical defect that was the worry. This event convinced me not only of the pressing need for airline pilots to maintain raw data manual flying competency but of the ever present insidious effect in some countries of ethnic culture when it comes to flight safety mores.

I was briefed to give experienced military trained crews of a large Asian country two hours of general handling on the Boeing 737 Classic simulator. An interpreter was provided who sat on the jump seat while I occupied the instructor panel position. Part of the exercise was a standard ILS procedurally flown. The first thing I noticed after takeoff was both pilots flew with their hands firmly on their knees from the time the captain engaged the autopilot to the end of the session. After any autopilot mod selection their hands went straight back to the knees.

During the autopilot flying via a DME arc to intercept the localiser, I asked the interpreter to tell the captain (PF) it might be wise to have one hand on the thrust levers during the ILS rather than both hands on his knees. This advice was obviously rejected by the captain who was chief pilot of the company. As the aircraft was descending during the DME arc the autothrottle had commanded the thrust levers to idle. Speed was initially 210 knots clean. IMC conditions prevailed. Nil wind. On the instructor panel I actuated failure of the No 1 engine throttle clutch motor. There is no QRH item for this type of fault as it would be considered normal good airmanship to pick up any split between the two thrust levers when it occurred.

At the appropriate time in the ILS, the PF requested flap and gear extension and the PM made the selections and placed his hands back on his knees. As airspeed was reduced and drag increased, the autothrottle system increased power to maintain correct approach speed. However only the No 2 thrust lever moved. The No 1 thrust lever remained at idle because its clutch motor was inoperative. The autopilot now coupled to the ILS, applied significant aileron to stop the increasing asymmetric roll due to one engine at idle thrust and the other engine at 75% N1 trying to maintain selected speed. Rudder pedals were central as they were not part of the autopilot. Both pilots had their hands still on their knees and not a word passed between them despite the obvious indications of something drastically wrong.

Midway down the ILS I tapped the interpreter on the shoulder and in English told her to tell the captain to look at the throttles which had a large split, as well has the control wheel showing 45 degrees of roll application. Hardly had the interpreter done so when the autopilot decided enough was enough and disengaged itself. The aircraft began a rapid roll to the left and the nose dropped. Despite this, both pilots kept their hands on their knees and said nothing. The captain seeing the closed left throttle then announced "Engine Failure - checklist" in his native language but made no attempt to manually correct the increasing roll and spiral dive. He kept his hands on his knees and his feet on the rudders but without applying any correction.

The PF groped around to locate the QRH which was on the floor next to him. He frantically flipped the pages of the QRH while seemingly oblivious to the flight instruments indication of 60 degrees angle of bank, a high rate of dsecent, a GPWS warning and the closed throttle of No 1 engine and the high power indication of No 2 engine. All the while, the captain who seemed frozen in indecision kept his own hands on his knees shouting in his own language "Checklist - Checklist - Hurry up - hurry up!"

It was now clear to me that crew coordination had completely broken down and the aircraft would crash within seconds. I "froze" the simulator, lowered the drawbridge and told the interpreter to have the crew meet me in the coffee room for a chat. Frankly, I was at loss for words. These two pilots included the chief pilot and if he couldn't fly a 737 then what of the rest of the ten pilots who had come a long way to use my company's full flight simulator. The interpreter who spoke perfect English was equally dismayed; after all he was going to be the bearer of bad news to the captain. The interpreter was in an invidious position. I envisaged him being shot or worse, as a witness to a calamity in the simulator.

I decided it would be better for all concerned to run a completely neutral de-briefing and carefully avoid any criticism of either pilot. Loss of face in their culture was important to avoid. I did say, however, it was probably a good idea for the PF to retain one hand on the throttles during an instrument approach. The captain briefly nodded his head after the interpreter had passed on this advice. while the PM sipped his coffee with one hand and the other hand on his knee. In some parts of the world, cultural mores win over flight safety every time..


Well, as long as the captain used standard phraseology in calling for the chcecklist, it wasn't too bad now was it?
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Old 27th Nov 2020, 05:39
  #57 (permalink)  
 
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J
Centaurs, it must have been long time ago at a time when aviation was new in the country you're referring to. Well things have definitely changed for the better.
Nice try. "Things have changed for the better" Good to know that. but depends on what part of the world you are referring to. The event took place in the last ten years. Military pilots operating a squadron of military 737's using a civilian airline name. The pilots all wore corporate type business suits, and spoke no English. Hence the interpreter.
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Old 27th Nov 2020, 05:42
  #58 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by Vessbot View Post
So I think that the maintenance of a level of comfort and willingness to fly the airplane when required, including at sudden provocation, is not too much to ask for. And, living every day in a world where it’s as rare as hen’s teeth to see someone fly it above 1000 feet, and seeing example after bewildering example of accidents like these, I don’t feel this general comfort level around me. I have to disagree with your evaluation that “it’s not a problem.”
I think a competent pilot should be able to slip effortlessly between flying with full automation, and no automation. Turning off the AP shouldn't require a briefing, or lengthy assessment of the conditions, or paperwork after the fact. Automated systems can and do fail.

If you find yourself rapidly changing modes and trying to think of what potential trap your previous or next mode selection will have, ask yourself if the AP is there to help you, or if you're there to help the AP.
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Old 27th Nov 2020, 07:24
  #59 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by Check Airman View Post
Also a lot higher chance that your skills will deteriorate to the point that they can no longer be relied upon. Would you rather have another go-around, or fill out paperwork after the incident/accident?

What's wrong with a go-around anyway?
Nothing wrong with a go around but if you have 4 sectors and a 25 minute turn around to make each time and 5 days of that in a row you're probably going to be less inclined to fly manually and let the AP do most of the work. It's the reality of the situation.
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Old 27th Nov 2020, 07:39
  #60 (permalink)  
 
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I'll concede that it does sound tiring, and having the AP to help is great. But it also sounds like a pretty typical regional trip (or a bad trip at a major) here in the US. My point is that the degradation of skill in insidious. We each have to make a conscious effort to guard against it so that when the day comes that the situation requires a pilot, and not a manager, we can still fly.
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