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Auto Features Are Dulling Pilots’ Skills

Pilot in CockpitAccording to reports, pilots’ skills have been eroding. Apparently, experts are blaming this on auto features. Due to these features, many pilots do not know how to recover from things like stalls and other mid-flight problems. Safety officials say that these dull skills have actually contributed to hundreds of deaths in airline crashes over the past five years.

Almost 51 ‘loss of control’ accidents have occurred in which planes actually stalled in flight or got into an unusual situation. During these situations, most pilots were unable to recover. This means that this is a growing problem in terms of airline accidents. An airline captain and the co-chair of the Federal Aviation Administration Advisory Committee, Rory Kay, said that they are seeing a new breed of accidents being born. To put it simply, pilots are actually forgetting how to fly.

The truth of the matter is that pilots do not get many opportunities to practice their plane flying skills anymore. In fact, most of the time regulators discourage or even prohibit pilots from turning off their autopilot features. The regulators would rather the computers fly the planes than the actual pilots. This is turning into a real problem since pilots do not get a chance to brush up on their skills very often.

Either way, fatal airline accidents in the United States have actually decreased over the past decade. Despite this, some people are not happy. They said that the airline industry is setting itself up for major problems later down the road. Pilots are going to forget how to fly planes, and there is only so much that autopilot systems can do.

In cases where pilots are suddenly confronted with the loss of a computerized flight, they do not know how to respond. When pilots do try to respond quickly, they typically make a number of errors. The problem is that some of these errors are actually fatal.

The study by the Federal Aviation Administration found that pilots are putting too much responsibility on automated systems. Pilots are using these systems so heavily that just one malfunctioning piece of equipment could lead to a deadly crash. This report went on to study some 46 accidents and major incidents in which safety officials were in the cockpit with the pilots. There they could actually observe the pilots in action. The study found that in 60 percent of accidents, pilots had trouble manually flying the plane or made mistakes.

The most common mistake was not recognizing whether the autopilot or the auto-throttle disconnected. Other people actually failed to take the proper steps to recover from a stall in flight. There were some pilots who had a hard time maintaining their airspeed. Just how the airline industry plans to address this problem has yet to be seen. Either way, the fact remains that something has to be done or other accidents could happen.

 

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