Flight Deck Automation Group Publishes Recommendations

 - December 2, 2013, 1:45 PM

The Performance-based Operations Aviation Rulemaking Committee (PARC) last week publicly released the final report that its Flight Deck Automation (FDA) working group delivered to the FAA in September. The FDA group was established by PARC, which provides industry-led guidance for the FAA, to address the safety and efficiency of modern flight-deck systems for flight-path management, including energy-state management, for both current and future operational use. The FAA last addressed this issue in 1996, when it published a report entitled, “Human Factors for Flight Deck Design.” In his cover letter for the new report, PARC chairman Dave Nakamura stated, “This material represents years of effort by the working group and…should be invaluable to the FAA moving forward…through improved guidance material and policy for aircraft systems, training and flight operations.” The new report lists 29 separate findings, as well as 18 recommendations. The working group indicated that they were concerned that incident and accident reports suggest flight crews sometimes have difficulties using flight-path management systems. “Appropriate use of these systems by the flight crew is critical to safety and effective implementation of new operational concepts, such as performance-based navigation (PBN), which includes area navigation (Rnav) and required navigation performance (RNP) operations,” said the FDA report. One of the document’s key findings looked at flight operations where vulnerabilities in pilot knowledge and skill levels to operate aircraft manually were identified. Another conclusion is that the FAA should commission a more in-depth study of how pilots handle malfunctions. The report said flight crews often seem to “possess insufficient system knowledge [and] poor flight-crew working procedures, as well as a poor situational awareness that may decrease a pilot’s ability to respond to failures.”