Огромнейшее и величайшее спасибо tigercar за то, что показал, как в вебархивах найти записи пилота, сподвигшего меня писать рассказы о полетах так, как я стараюсь делать...
Airmanship encompasses the whole of being a pilot. There are good and bad examples everywhere. Thankfully, in the air carrier business, it is mostly good. It has to be for the safety of the flying public. Flight deck automation has been coming on at a steady pace since the first rudimentary auto-pilots. It has increased safety by ten fold in this country... Not sure about other places, nor do I want to get into the politics of it.
In my opinion, flightdeck automation, and I use that term loosely, is the greatest thing since sliced bread. Is it easier to fly an A320 than a 737-100? No, it's not. Not for my generation, anyway. The old steamers were easy to fly and after a few thousand hours, the flight controls became part of you... Like walking. You did not think about how the aileron moved, it just did... Brain, muscle, cable, flight control. We had old Captains back in those days who could fly without the auto-pilot (not unusual for the early auto-pilots to be inop) drink coffee, flirt with flight attendants, and keep altitude within 50 feet at all times. Usually, though, when the auto-pilot was broken, the co-pilot had to fly all the legs while the Captain drank coffee and flirted with flight attendants.
And then, along came Airbus Industries and the air carrier world has never been the same. The Electric jet is not an easy aircraft to learn... Uh, let me restate that. It is not an easy aircraft to learn well. I can teach a private pilot to fly it with about 20 hours of dual, but if anything goes wrong... Good-bye. There have been accidents with Fi-Fi that happened because the crews did not understand the systems and reacted incorrectly. The lay people who look at these accidents do not understand the systems either and so generate false story lines. And this is after they have interviewed an "expert" who does not understand the systems. I bring to your attention the twenty year old infamous mainstream media hit piece on Airbus Industries that had a leading (at that time) anchorette, with her best serious look ask "Why will this airplane go rogue and not obey pilot commands?"
Here is where it gets touchy... Is airline training being dumbed down to save money or because good quality pilots are not being hired? I'll keep that opinion to myself... Thank you. I do know this, though: The interview process is a game that you had better be prepared for or you will not succeed, no matter your airmanship qualities. It's too bad, but that's the way it is. A perfectly good pilot will be turned away because they answered a trick interview question incorrectly. But a weak pilot who has prepared for the interview will succeed.
Let me define a weak pilot: A weak pilot is a pilot who cannot keep up with the rigors of flying the Line. This is industrial strength flying, day in and day out. Schedules are tight and demanding. Aircraft must be flown in all weather, day and night, month after month. Your flying must be aggressive; when ATC tells you to cross 40 west of a certain arrival fix at 25,000 feet, you should be able to mentally calculate the descent point within 3 seconds, tired or not. Don't start pushing buttons to see where Fi-Fi nav thinks the d/p should be... When ATC tells you to slow down 50 knots, that means now... Thrust back; tweak the spoilers... Basic airmanship skills that have to be ingrained in your pilot soul. Your body takes a beating from lack of sleep, too much coffee, and poor dietary practices. Can you keep up? If not, you are a weak pilot.
Could a weak pilot, with or without automation, have saved the Hudson River airframe, crew, and pax. Not hardly! Those folks are alive because Captain Sully had the airmanship skills to save them... My aircraft.Excuse me while I wipe my eyes...
Modern flight decks are a collection of systems working together to deliver pax safely to their destination thousands of miles away for pennies p/mile. They are not automated as the media wants the layperson to believe. The pilots still run the show, just in a different way than days of yonder. What happens when one of those systems quits working? The back-up system comes on line and is used. There are five (5) levels of flight management in Fi-Fi and you must understand each one of them thoroughly or you, as a pilot, are being irresponsible to your pax.
I don't understand this caterwauling about pilots not being able to fly the aircraft in the Piper Cub mode. I don't know any good pilots who have trouble with that... If they are one of the few weak pilots, they can't manage the systems well or fly stick and rudder. I stick and rudder it every chance I get. It handles very well... No surprises in any flight regime that I have seen. But, the Company wants its $60,000,000 aircraft used to their limits and to do that requires understanding the systems and using them to their limits. And that brings up AF447...Nothing ticks me off quicker than hearing talking heads berate the AF447 crew. When the final report comes out in 2012, it will probably paint a picture of a perfect digital storm... What else could cause the captain to say this can't be happening. Something very strange was going on... Obviously, they were getting conflicting information. I can't wait to read the final report.
OK, that's it for now... The Electric Jet is a beautiful flying machine, either in stick and rudder mode, or Star Trek mode. The so called downside of "automation" is claptrap. The air carrier business is totally safe.
I've got to get ready for work... A transcon westbound. Sorry for the sloppy writing.
Thank you, Captain Dave!
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