“Five years ago we passed the point where automation was there to back up pilots,” said Flight Safety Foundation CEO Bill Voss at last week’s Flight Safety Foundation Corporate Aviation Safety Seminar in San Antonio. “Clearly today, the pilot is there to be the backup to the automation.” Voss told AIN “This is simply a realistic assessment of the world today, except we are not training pilots to be backups to automation. We have to own up to the fact that we need develop new kinds of pilot training,” he said.
Voss added that human pilots too often lose the mental picture of the aircraft’s automation. “If pilots have no idea of what the automation should be doing, they also have no idea of whether everything they observe on the panel represents a normal operation. That’s what happened to Air France 447,” he said.
“This is not just about better stick and rudder skills though,” he explained. “What you die from is not understanding what configuration will keep the aircraft in the air safely. If pilots don’t understand that level flight means two-and-a-half degrees of pitch and 93-percent N1, they have no way of manually controlling that aircraft if something breaks. But the training department can’t fix everything. This is also an operational problem out on the line.”