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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.

Monday, March 16, 2020

Automation Concerns Since 1996!

Yesterday I wrote a post titled, Lack of FAA Responsiveness. In response to that post, I received an email of the history of what I had written, stemming from automation problems in the mid 90's. The names have been redacted to protect the deceased, the innocent, and the asshole. 


Image result for Eastern b757 photo


"Funny (not really) you mention this. Shortly after Eastern got their first 757, which was truly the first hi-tech jet, my close friend (Pilot) who I served with for six years on the Eastern MEC, got a captain bid on it. Now (Pilot) was a pilot's pilot (former Navy) and never, not once, failed a check ride. 

During the Eastern Miami school he called and told me he was having a very difficult time with this new generation aircraft and many of the computer driven systems tied to it. He said the only time he never had a problem was when everything failed and he had to manually fly the plane. Long story short, he failed his type rating ride, which was the only time in his career he failed a checkride. 

It wasn't an hour later that the system chief pilot, the late (Blank) (asshole), called and told me, "Your buddy failed his checkride," and I told him that was because the Eastern school sucked and there was an over-reliance on automated systems designed into the aircraft that none of us had ever seen or used before and because Boeing did away with the F/E position. Then I told him never to call me again; that I didn't want to hear his B/S.

(Pilot) passed the subsequent ride and flew the 757 for a couple of years before the shit hit the fan at the airline after it was handed to Lorenzo on a silver platter. But as a result of what happened to (Pilot) I never bid the 757 (plus, it only paid a few bucks more per month than the 727) and instead I bid the widebody A-300, which at the time wasn't hi-tech and had a 3-person crew. But the point I'm trying to make here (and not doing a very good job of it) is that I agree with what you stated because I clearly recall (Pilot) telling me that they kept telling him, 

"Forget what you know about flying 
and just rely on the computer programs."

They have definitely "dumbed down" today's pilots and taught them to ignore the basics. Of course, there's also the problem of the low-time pilots going directly to the right seat, with no more F/E position. When I started at Eastern I had never before flown a jet and began and flew for a year as a F/E and learned as much or more watching what the folks up front were doing. I've often wondered what it would have been like to go directly to the right seat, but that's what the people today are doing and are being told to simply "trust the systems" without even having the jet basics down. Very scary!"

What initiated this conversation 
can be found in:

Available On Kindle!
Normalization of Deviance
Order the paperback version 
on this site today!

“If the problem can be judged to lie exclusively in the head and heart of an unworthy flight crew, then no one in the system needs to be responsible for changes and improvements. False comfort is gained when the irresponsible pilot is the only threat” Robert Besco PhD. Captain Retired. 

“Automation can be an improvement to safety. But at the end of the day, we still need pilots with a high level of flying skills and the ability to recognize when automation is being helpful, and when it becomes a distraction and a threat. Unfortunately, today’s training environment is too centered (in my opinion) on automation and discourages us from thinking like aviators.” (Anonymous Pilot) 

“Sadly most pilots don’t know how to fly anymore… People aren’t comfortable. Is it because the Airbus doesn’t feel right? Because the training we received, or the company policy, maybe a bit of all. One thing for sure, we got our wings clipped from the industry long time back and only those that do the extra mile to keep their skills risk sometime to be called in the office…” (Anonymous Pilot)

Available On Kindle!
Normalization of Deviance
Order the paperback version 
on this site today!

Enjoy the Journey!
XO Karlene

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