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

PHD. MBA. MHS. Type rated on A350, A330, B777, B747-400, B747-200, 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. Fighting for Aviation Safety and Airline Employee Advocacy. Safety Culture and SMS change agent.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018


And Aviation Safety 

Captain Jim Wright sends me the most interesting articles. He was a harbor ship captain, and continues in training, learning and discussions on automation challenges in his world. However, they are similar in ours too. Captain Wright was a Friday Flyer in 2014, where you can read more about the man behind the words. Today he sent me an interesting email. Enjoy the great read, as there is much to think about. 

Captain Jim Wright

"I just read the recent well done CAMM articles by Capt. Lloyd, Father Oubre and Capt. Cartner -- regarding autonomous ships and “shipmastering”. From a harbor pilot’s perspective, these articles seem to be posing the question, “What is the intended effect of automation on shiphandling and the ship’s Master?”

At one extreme you could say that automation is intended to replace all traces of human endeavor. At the other extreme you could say that automation will eventually prove too expensive and eventually unreliable. 

Maybe we’re missing the point here. The point being that the success of human endeavor over past centuries has been a function of the satisfaction derived from personal achievement. The question then becomes, if the satisfaction realized by hands-on shiphandling is replaced by “artificial intelligence”, what will be the effect on human endeavor going forward?

Pursuit of an answer might lead to the airline industry where Gen-X and ultimately pilotless passenger aircraft seems to be a goal. Let’s look at some examples. Although “Miracle on the Hudson” caught substantial public attention, other passenger jets have made successful water or off-airport landings without power due to the pilots’ hand-flying skills. And then a fully functional 777 crashed on the airport apparently due to lack of hand-flying skills. 

Something to consider. Currently there are quite a few older shipmasters and pilots who are proficient in traditional shiphandling skills to include anchor dredging and docking without tugs or thruster assist. This group is going to be depleted through attrition, taking those skills with them. The common response is that automation eliminates the need for preserving these skills. Defense Exhibit 1 might be “Garuda Indonesia (737-300) Flight 421’s water landing with no engines, no assistance, no electronic guidance and no hydraulic or electrical power.” Without hand-flying skills, 59 souls most likely would not have survived." Captain Jim Wright. 

Can we afford to have our pilots
lose their flying skills and 
depend solely on automation? 

Enjoy the Journey!
XOX Karlene 


  1. Good Morning folks, this is your autopilot speaking. Today we will be flying at an altitude of 32000 feet enroute from Los Angeles to Honolulu. The flying time will be 4 hours and 22 minutes. Please sit back and relax and remember nothing can go wrong, nothing can go wrong, nothing can go wrong........

    1. Lol... thank you for brightening my day! Nothing can go wrong...wrong...wrong.


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