Problems With Cockpit Automation the Impact of Very Light Jets on Fbo Term Paper

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¶ … cockpit automation / the impact of very light jets on FBOs


Problems with cockpit automation / the impact of very light jets on FBOs

Paper-1 Problems with cockpit automation

This paper analyzes the pitfalls of automation within the cockpit. Today automation has become more widespread than ever before, especially within the aviation industry, and automation as such is more often than not being blamed for causing great harm, although inadvertently, by increasing the chances for human error, especially when the human being starts to depend on the computer to solve his problems for him. Several experiments have been conducted to find out the depth of this problem of automation and its advantages and disadvantages and to find out whether automation may be worth its while or not. To date, however, it is not clear whether automation carries with it more benefits, or more problems, and This paper helps to understand differing opinions on the same: is cockpit automation good today, or are the inherent problems in automation overtaking the underlying benefits?


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Automation pervades almost all spheres of life today; from the small farmer who may grow his daily produce, to the aviation industry that may fly its passengers form one corner of the world to another. The problem is whether automation can be considered beneficial for the aviation industry, especially within the cockpit, or must it considered to be redundant? Do the advantages of automation outweigh the disadvantages of automation? Would it be a good idea to depend more on a human being, rather than on autopilot? This paper will analyze these questions, and come to a conclusion. (Veillette, 2006)


Term Paper on Problems With Cockpit Automation the Impact of Very Light Jets on Fbo Assignment

Automated systems may be excellent in concept and in their implementation, but one must remember that automation also carried with it certain unforeseen dangers, problems and disadvantages. Automation is today used widely in every field, no matter how small or how large it may be. As far as the aviation industry is concerned, automation has penetrated the cockpit as well. According to the British Airline Pilot's Association, or the BALPA, automation may lead to problems for pilots as well. In their words, "Airline pilots increasingly lack the basics of the flying skills and may be unable to cope with an in-flight emergency such as sudden mechanical failure" as a direct result of the automation of the cockpit. (Veillette, 2006) This could also mean that pilots today lack the skills that are needed to fly the aircraft manually when and if the need were to arise. (Veillette, 2006)

Martin Alder, a member of the British Airline Pilot's Association stated, "The style of flying and training means that people will be less able or less likely to cope, which has obvious safety concerns." (Veillette, 2006) One must remember the fact that when the idea of cockpit automation was initially conceived of, several promises were made about the innate advantages that such a thing would ultimately have on the aviation industry. One such purported advantage was that the capacity of the national airspace system would be increased dramatically, because of the simple fact that the boxes would be able to make navigation much more precise than before. The manual workload of the pilots would be reduced as well, and this could be a good advantage for the pilots, as they would feel relief from the inherent stress of flying an aircraft. Other routine operations generally carried out by humans would be reduced, and this could mean better and greater efficiency and effectiveness in the long run. Not only would the management of the aircraft become a simple affair, but the possibility of human error would be minimized as well, and these could mean only good things for the aviation industry, felt experts. (Veillette, 2006)

Although the automation of the cockpit was eagerly expected and anticipated, it soon became apparent that several problems had been completely unanticipated. When the automated cockpits began everyday line operations, it was noticed that the automation was actually creating more errors than an average human being would. This was happening despite the grand promises that automation would be able to effectively reduce human errors to a large extent. In the environment of a terminal too, airport workers noticed that the workload in an automated cockpit seemed to be much higher than in a non-automated one, especially in the age old steam-gauge cockpits. Furthermore, automation had seemed to add to the problem of both pilots to go 'head down' while they were in busy terminal airspace, and this was a dangerous problem that could not be overlooked by any means. However, the most serious problem by far seemed to be that of the automation lulling pilots into a sort of complacency, in which they would take many things for granted, in the confidence that the automation would allow them to do so. Manual flying skills were also lost gradually over time, as more and more pilots started to depend on automation to take care of flying, and more and more flight crew managers started to express concern that they felt that pilots were losing their basic 'stick and rudder proficiency', a skill that would help them survive in case automation failed and they would be forced to manually resume direct control of the aircraft. (Veillette, 2006)

Take for example the accident that occurred due to engine failure on January 8, 1989, on board British Midland B. 737-400. When the outer panel of one blade on the left engine detached, the no 1 engine started to stall badly, and this resulted in aircraft shuddering and ingress of smoke to the flight deck. The crew, believing that it was the no 2 engine that had created these several problems, shut it down. This caused the surging of the no 1 engine to slow down considerably, leading the crew to believe that they had been able to deal with the emergency satisfactorily. They soon shut down the no 2 engine, and the no 1 engine operated properly for a while, although accompanied by shuddering. Soon however, there was an abrupt reduction of power, and a fire warning was issued. The efforts to restart the no 2 engine were not successful, and the aircraft crashed; thirty nine people on board the flight were killed instantly, while a further eight died in hospital later. Seventy four out of the seventy nine other occupants suffered injuries, and the cause of the accident, as established later, was that the operating crew shut down the no 2 engine after a fan blade had happened to fracture the no 1 engine. Would the accident have occurred if automation had not been carried out within the cockpit? ("Flight Deck automation issues," n. d.)

Experts do feel that cockpit automation may well lull pilots into a false sense of security, that nothing would go wrong, just because the cockpit is fully automated, and that the machines would take care of any adversity. This, feel experts, would make pilots more prone to making fatal errors in certain situations, which they would otherwise have been able to handle with elan, before automation. Recently, a study was carried out by Dr. Linda Skitka, an Associate Psychology Professor at the University of Illinois in Chicago. The study was aimed at studying cockpit tasks carried out with the aid of a computer, and without. It was found that the error rate among students was an amazing sixty five percent, with the students lulled into a false sense of complacency by the computer, which was giving them false prompts. The students followed the prompts of the computer as against following their own knowledge and awareness of the cockpit, and even though other instrument readings on the panel contraindicated the readings of the computer. Dr. Linda describes her experiment: she used a basic flight simulator and divided the eight students into two groups. While half the students were to fly with the help of an automated computer system, the other half were supposed to rely completely on instrument readings. Both the groups were told that the instruments were completely reliable, and those students who were flying with the automated system were told that although the automation was reliable, it was not a hundred percent so. ("Cockpit automation may bias decision making," 1999)

The basic idea behind the experimentation was to test out the fact of whether or not errors of omission and commission were carried out while flying. While errors of commission meant complying with an erroneous computer prompt, despite knowing that the instruments were providing contra indicatory information, errors of omission meant failing to respond on time to a correct computer prompt, which would be consistent with the information being displayed on the instrument panel. The experiment revealed that the six errors of omission were in fact constant between both automated and non-automated conditions within the cockpit, with the idea of testing whether automation would lead to a decrease in vigilance proving to be true. Dr. Skitka went on to state that… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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APA Style

Problems With Cockpit Automation the Impact of Very Light Jets on Fbo.  (2007, November 15).  Retrieved June 14, 2021, from

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"Problems With Cockpit Automation the Impact of Very Light Jets on Fbo."  November 15, 2007.  Accessed June 14, 2021.