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"We are the protagonists of our stories called life, and there is no limit to how high we can fly."

Type rated on A330, B747-400, B747, B757, B767, B737, B727. International Airline Pilot / Author / Speaker. Dedicated to giving the gift of wings to anyone following their dreams. Supporting Aviation Safety through training, writing, and inspiration.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Eurocontrol and Aviation Safety

Days are literally flying by. 

From one event to the next with a book in hand I go. Today is a catch up day to share a little bit about the conference in Brussels. I was honored to be among the brilliant minds working toward a common goal: Aviation Safety with Automation.

Eurocontrol and Flight Safety Forum 2015: 

A few weeks ago, I posted a question for all asking if anyone knew who this man was. He is one of the answers to aviation safety.

Don Bateman

Don was responsible for the invention of the GWPS system. For those non-aviators, imagine an invention that prevents planes from flying into terrain. Controlled Flight Into Terrain (CFIT) was the problem and Don found the solution. Creativity mixed with ingenuity. To be honored to sit beside this genius was my good fortune, as was being at this conference.

Eurocontols' event focused on Safety and Automation, and more than 200 experts (and me) arrived from 39 different countries showing their interest in safety.  What brought me to this conference was a paper I wrote: Structural Redesign of Airbus A330 Training. Can we train better and smarter? I think we can. And it doesn't have to cost a fortune. Actually... we can train smarter with savings to the airlines!

What I learned was there are like minded people around the world taking their time to fight for aviation safety. Attempting to make a difference in the world of automation. 

A few key findings for flight operations:
  • Pilots must be confident and competent in the management of their airplane in various levels of automation.  
  • Expertise in the use of automated systems requires practicing 'soft' skills like task/workload managment, situation awareness, problem solving and decision making.
  • Experience measured in flying hours does not equal expertise and it is believed that the nature of long haul flying and the reserve system at many airlines reduces pilots' exposure to flight path management in general and manual flying in particular. 
  • Advanced technology has created automation dependency, complacency, and lack of understanding.
  • Systems knowledge and procedures can be trained relatively inexpensively by effective use of CBT and maximizing CBT and FBS for learning so FFS can be used for flying. 

Automation is a necessity for efficiency and safety. 

However, we must not give our minds to automation and follow mindlessly. We must find a way to retain our flight skills, while understanding what the magic is doing. Understanding is a key. And yet there was a presentation that made me wonder what has happened to excellence?

Tennis players, golfers, professional athletes practice to perfection. Why not pilots? There was a time when pilots worked at perfecting their skills of flying. Today they appear to put in their time... autopilot on and monitor across the oceans. But in defense of pilots, how do they perfect their skills in this automated world with RVSM airspace, fatigue and operational challenges? How do we fight complacency? 

The answer to this challenge 
will be my Dissertation!

What can you do to fight 
the automation challenge 
to improve your proficiency?

Enjoy the Journey
And Practice your Skills! 
XO Karlene


  1. You are so inspiring, Karlene. You're going to be the agent of change for the industry, I just know it.

  2. Through an inter-library loan, I once ordered Henry Kissinger's thesis... I'd like to see an excerpt of yours!

    1. Wow! That's amazing. Okay... I will let you see my dissertation!! :)

  3. It's hard enough for us to learn all the functions on our garmin G1000 system...I can't imagine the automation on an A330. It is tempting to stare inside at the PFD and MFD and follow the pink line instead of scanning for traffic sometimes. Other times I just want to ignore it and only look outside or at the standby instruments...that isn't good either.

    1. Jake, I am sure the A330 pilot I fly with (myself included) could not operate your Garmin! My vote... look outside, the pink line isn't going anywhere. Thanks for your comment!!


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