My Research is Complete
and I'm compiling comments.
One comment, while it doesn't categorize into the study, has been included in future research.
Comment from pilot:
"I do not believe I saw one single question on your survey related to fatigue. Fatigue is a very serious issue for any commercial airline crew. A pilot's decision to hand-fly an aircraft will be affected by the pilot's determination of his/her physical state and the state of his/her fellow Flight Deck crew member. If the Flying Pilot (FP) is too tired, he'll more than likely allow the Autopilot (AP) to fly the aircraft. If my departure time is before 7:00 AM, I normally do not hand-fly the aircraft because my day more than likely started at 5:00 AM or 4:00 AM in the morning. We normally get on the hotel van an hour before departure time and I normally wakeup an hour before the hotel van time; therefore, a 7:00 AM departure is a 5:00 AM wakeup call, a 6:00 AM departure is a 4:00 AM wakeup call, and a 5:00 AM departure is a 3:00 AM wakeup call.
I've had a few 5:00 AM departures. They are dangerous to say the least. Even if you go to bed at 8:00 PM, you more than likely will just lay in bed until 10:00 PM, which only allows you to get 5 hours or less of sleep. This is the best time to allow the AP system to fly the aircraft. Also, if you are on the last hour of your 12, 13 or 14 hour duty day, allowing the AP to fly the aircraft is more than likely the safest thing to do; especially if your landing after 11:00 PM.
One more thing: the regional airline industry is an entry level industry for new pilots that graduate from schools like ERAU. Mainline carriers take the best regional Captains and military pilots so they don't have the same new hire safety issues that regional airlines have. Safety is at its most risky point during a new hire's first year or first 500 hours. During this time, it's good to have the new hire pilot use the AP as much as possible because it will teach him/her how to fly the aircraft through AP demonstration and recognize the different automation modes.
I fly the Bombardier CRJ700 (70 Seats) for a regional airline. The aircraft has a glass instrumented Flight Deck but no Auto-Thrust system. We hand-fly the aircraft as much as possible below 10,000 feet and normally engage the AP before FL180 but definitely before FL290 due to RVSM automation requirements. We do this primarily because it's FUN! We know that some day we'll move on to a "mainline" carrier and fly an aircraft that wasn't even designed to have the pilot fly it except for 5 minutes during the takeoff and landing. Mr. Henry is more than likely experiencing this now at his mainline carrier (he's a former regional pilot)."
To the Pilot who submitted
Awareness is the first step
to solving the problem.
Enjoy the journey!
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