Automation at Fault?

Friday, February 21, 2014
By George Hatcher


Here’s the question: do pilots rely too much on automation? This question has been on my mind since hearing the parallels between the UPS Cargo jet crash and the Asiana passenger jet crash. This is on my mind not only as one who works toward aviation safety but also as a very frequent flyer. You can only imagine how my work carries me into international situations. I don’t fly as frequently as a pilot, but sometimes I fly internationally several times a month. I am on these planes frequently. I rely on them.

So I find it disturbing that the NTSB’s hearing Thursday revealed parallels between the crash of UPS Flight 1354 and Asiana Filght 214. While I don’t know the answers, I can only hope the investigation shines light on ways to deal with this problem. What is the solution? Less reliance on Automation? Better training for pilots?

On the other side of the coin, some parties will want even more automation, but I am reluctant to go in that direction. The idea of even more reliance on automation is anathema to me because the engineers and advocates of reliance on even more automation will not be on those even-more automated planes. While the technology and/or training will be on the chopping block, their actual necks won’t be.

What I don’t find disturbing is the professionalism of the hearings. The webcast is well worth watching.

The hearing webcast is recorded here: http://ntsb.capitolconnection.org/022014/ntsb_archive_flv.htm

Note the NTSB cautions participants in the hearing not to engage the media and to stick to the facts.

Or the recorded captions (unformatted) are here.
http://airflightdisaster.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/ntsb022014.htm.pdf

bio docket: http://airflightdisaster.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/biodocket.pdf

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