Cockpit technology could actually hinder business aviation flight safety, especially when that technology is retrofitted to older steam-gauge aircraft, said a July 1 podcast from the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA). The industry group lists the impact of technology as one of its Top 10 safety issues.
Jim Lara, secretary of NBAA’s safety committee, expected that the biggest challenge he would face when upgrading his Beechcraft Baron would be the cost of installing the glass cockpit. In his view, however, the real test has turned out to be learning how to operate the new equipment. Lara offered accolades to one avionics manufacturer (which he chose not to name) for the classes it teaches to help bring pilots up to speed before they fly away. “[Without adequate training] you can find yourself sitting there and wondering ‘what is this doing now’ and ‘why isn’t it doing what I want it to?’” he said.
Potentially even more important, Lara worries about the erosion of basic stick-and-rudder flying skills as pilots become dependent on the new gear. “Most companies are starting to recognize this [shortcoming] and are beginning to mandate more stick time in their basic operating procedures,” he concluded.