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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.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Designing Planes Without Pilots

Who Reaps the Rewards?


While studying the B777, I was reviewing aircraft protections. In Primary Mode there is a flap load relief system where the flaps blow up (retract) to the next level if flap speeds are exceeded with flaps in the 15-30 positions. There are Autoslats and Asymmetry protection. Secondary mode has slat load relief, and Asymmetry protection. While there is no protection in Alternate mode, the B777 also has stall protection, overspeed protection, and bank angle protection. It appears that all these protections are designed to protect the pilot if they screw up. 

Thus, it got me thinking. Can you imagine how much money aircraft manufacturers would save if they did not have to install technology to counteract pilot error? It made me think that perhaps our aircraft manufacturers also have incentive to remove the pilots from the equation. If there were no pilots, there wold be no need for these systems. 

But what they must always remember, the reason as to why we need pilots. For when the unexpected happens...


Thank Goodness There were pilots on board!

Enjoy the Journey!
XOX Karlene 


10 comments:

  1. Karlene,

    Exactly right. We dont get paid to watch the airplane fly itself. We get paid to be there when something goes wrong. I love that 19 year old kid that knows how to fly a drone but they are not armed with experience and training like a professional pilot is.

    I dont want to jinx the safety record of any airline with this comment but the fact remains that aviation has never been safer with the ultimate combination of pilot skill and technology. Pilots need to remember that we are still the highest level of automation on the flight deck. And this will not change for a long, long time.

    Great Point!
    rob

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    1. Rob, that's the key... a combination of both! Yes, we are the highest level of automation on the flight deck. There to solve the problems when they arrive.

      If you have a chance... take an evening and go see the movie American Made. You'll appreciate the experience of the TWA captain. :)

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  2. I easily agree with every word. I want NO Part of any airplane without fully (broken key)ualified pilots in seats 0A and 0B. I'd rather walk.
    Time to revise your blog's intro, adding "B777 Pending?"
    Still no direct email and it may be a while. Study!!
    -Craig

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    1. Yes Craig, I completely agree! And pending is a good word... much to catch up on! Email coming.

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    2. --Thanks, but I will not be able to see your email. I can send an alternate, but that will be SLOW. Just the way it is... -Craig

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  3. Call me counter-cultural; but, I'm an engineer and we tend to get release-itis when we get bored, tired, hungry, or lacking caffeine. How about we stop "protecting" the pilot from themselves and focus on producing high-quality documentation (please take note of my opening statement) so the pilot can understand what they should and shouldn't do with the plane. Instead, replace these protection systems with alerts similar to "slow down, you'll rip the slats off". Let's be honest here, if you're pilot flying and you heard that you'll forever remember what speed never to exceed given the particular slat position it occurred.

    I know how comforting it is to have all these "protections"; however, I feel we--as a post-industrial society--have gotten so used to instant noodles and lettuce coming from the grocery that our mind is starting to not be good at thinking through what we're about to do. Then when things hit the fan, we end up with accident case studies like AF477 and OZ214.

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    1. Keith, excellent point! And understanding is the key. And yes, that alert would get us every time... "Slow down, you'll rip the slats off." Personally, I think we need to train pilots how to fly, so we don't need protections because we know what to do. Honestly, I don't feel comfort, and never really think about them because I don't ever intend on pushing the plane to the limits of those protections. Sometimes I think everything is designed for the lowest common denominator. Thanks for your comment!

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    2. In this case, I agree with Keith and Karlene. Put another way, TRAIN the pilots thoroughly then expect them to do the job properly -- EVERY TIME. If one cannot fully trust the pilot(s), get off the airplane.
      -Craig

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    3. Thank you Craig! Many thoughts are developing on new generation training and what we need to know, and should know.... research going great!

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