Airline Automation Triggers Intensified Debate Over Safety
Enhanced cockpit automation is essential to produce aircraft geared toward even those pilots with only rudimentary skills... (This is SCARY?!?)
January 6, 2019 - by By Andy Pasztor and Robert Wall for The Wall Street Journal
The fatal Lion Air crash has revved up debate about the biggest quandary in airline safety: how best to meld increasingly sophisticated computer controls, designed to prevent tragedies, with traditional piloting skills.
Ever-more-powerful cockpit automation and ultrareliable jet engines have contributed to record-low accident rates in recent years. For example, in 2017, there were fewer than three major accidents per one million commercial flights globally, and not a single scheduled jet airliner went down.
But the accident this past October involving Lion Air Flight 610 (#JT610), which killed 189 people in Indonesia, dramatically highlighted the hazards when automated flight-control features fail or misfire, and pilots aren't able to respond properly.
The crash of the new Boeing 737 MAX 8 plane contributed to an erosion of the industry's safety record last year...
Adding to that challenge, Boeing estimates a global need for more than 750,000 new commercial pilots over the next two decades with substantially fewer hires coming from the military than before, resulting in generally lower experience levels.
Industry experts say enhanced cockpit automation is essential to produce aircraft geared toward even those pilots with only rudimentary skills... (SCARY!?)