NTSB Explains the Upcoming Cockpit Monitoring Guide

 - May 12, 2014, 10:39 AM

“Humans are not naturally good at monitoring highly reliable automated cockpit systems for extended periods of time,” said NTSB member Robert Sumwalt. “And what do we have in our airplanes today…highly reliable, highly automated systems.”

Sumwalt believes better procedures and additional training will improve the odds when it comes to preventing accidents related to monitoring and crosschecking automated cockpit systems. He says pilots who don’t accurately monitor their aircraft are a problem that has never been solved, adding that a number of accidents over the past 10 years were caused by “pilots not adequately monitoring the airplane. Nine accidents in nine years in fact.”

After the 2005 Circuit City accident in which the crew failed to notice the aircraft, loaded up with ice, was about to stall, the NTSB published safety recommendations to modify pilot training and teach monitoring skills. The FAA published a final rule on monitoring earlier this year, although compliance won’t be mandated until 2019. This rule however, applies only to Part 121 carriers. “What about business aviation?” Sumwalt asked. “A lot of effort has already been put to use spotlighting CFIT, for instance. We’re putting a document together with a number of recommendations to improve monitoring [for business aviation] too. We should have this published by the end of the year.”