FAA wants pilots to be less dependent on computer based autopilots.

FAA wants pilots to be less dependent on computer based autopilots.

To ensure that pilots can control aircraft manually without being overly reliant on automated technology, the US Federal Aviation Administration has published new guidance that calls for flight procedures and training.

The instructions are contained in an Advisory Circular that was released on Monday. It aims to prevent incidents like the Asiana Airlines crash, which claimed three lives and injured many more after an inexperienced pilot stalled the aircraft on landing after failing to notice “inconsistencies in the aircraft’s automation logic.” It is directed at aircraft operators conducting multi-crew turbojet operations and at training facilities.

“This advisory document offers an operational and training framework. To avoid becoming unduly dependent on automation, it will aid pilots in developing and maintaining manual flight operations skills.”

The NTSB recommendation comes in response to the crash of Asiana Airlines Flight 214 into a seawall on landing at San Francisco International Airport on July 6, 2013, which resulted in the deaths of three passengers and the injury of several more travelers and crew. The NTSB recommended “reduced design complexity and increased training on the airplane’s auto flight system,” among other recommendations from the crash inquiry.

The NTSB found in its accident report that, partly due to “automation dependency,” the aircraft crew had difficulty understanding aircraft systems and had neglected to monitor the plane’s airspeed properly.

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) is pushing for increased automation, despite the FAA’s efforts to ensure that pilots can operate aircraft without aid from automated systems. To find solutions for commercial airlines to fly with just one pilot rather than two, the EASA has submitted a working paper. The approach, motivated by budgetary constraints and a lack of crew, inevitably calls for more use of computer aid.

Please let us know what you think about autopilot operations in the comments section.


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