Pilots Speak Out on Automation in EASA Survey

Basic manual and cognitive flying skills decline because of a lack of practice actually flying the aircraft, according to 80 percent of 151 respondents to a European Aviation Safety Agency survey about cockpit automation. That same number also believe pilots’ feel for the airplane can deteriorate significantly when they don’t hand fly the aircraft often enough.

Seventy-two percent of pilots surveyed agreed it is difficult to regain control of an aircraft when the automation reaches its operational limits before disconnecting. When that disconnect does occur, according to 68 percent of respondents, the tasks required by pilots to get the aircraft flying again could be beyond their capabilities. Fully 90 percent of respondents agreed with the statement: “Unexpected automation behavior such as engagement or disengagement in an inappropriate context or uncommanded transition may lead to adverse consequences.”

Finally, nearly all pilots surveyed agreed that diagnostic systems aboard advanced aircraft today are limited when it comes to dealing with multiple failures.

Of the 151 respondents, 149 said training that improves basic airmanship and manual-flying skills would be useful.

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