Posted 2 years 187 days ago ago by Randy Mains
Initial training at the start of my airline career, after active duty with the Marines, flying both rotor and fixed wing, was performed in-aircraft in a Saab SF-340A. The Saab had a full glass cockpit at a time when most airliners still had steam gauges. My training partner, who had a USCG background, both rotor and fixed wing as well, and corporate flying was having trouble with the transition to glass instruments. After several less-than-satisfactory flights, during a study session, he asked me how to determine which way the aircraft was turning. I was shocked that he still looked at the instruments like your dog watching TV. He didn’t make it through training.
Later on as a Captain in the Embraer E-120 Brasília as well as various Canadair RJ models, glass cockpits all, I would make my FOs hand fly approaches without the flight director, just raw data, in increasingly bad weather. My reasoning was that the company was able to dispatch the aircraft with inoperable flight directors, in the case of the E-120, and autopilots in all those aircraft. Having practiced raw data flying before that eventuality made it much easier when it actually happened.
It seems that today’s pilots are far too reliant on automation and, as we all know, forget how to “fly the freakin’ aircraft” when the automation takes a dump. “FTFA” is, just as is instrument flying, a highly perishable skill and should be practiced as often as possible but in today’s over controlled world, sadly, probably isn’t.
As to you analogy of “my dog’s thinking when he watches TV”, I prefer the saying: “the befuddled, bewildered look on the face of a hog looking at a wristwatch”.
My reply to Mr. Flick…
Thank you for your email detailing your personal experiences with flying the glass cockpit. I laughed out loud when you wrote, “the befuddled, bewildered look on the face of a hog looking at a wristwatch”. The image is priceless.
You hit on the core of the problem when you observed, “It seems that today’s pilots are far too reliant on automation and, as we all know, forget how to “fly the freakin’ aircraft” when the automation takes a dump. “FTFA” is, just as is instrument flying, a highly perishable skill and should be practiced as often as possible but in todays over controlled world, sadly, probably isn’t.”
As you probably well know, there have been several major accidents where the pilot, had they been adept at hand-flying the aircraft, an accident or incident could have been avoided.
You may or may not know that I also write a blog in justhelicopers.com where I often include letters or emails I have received that follow on from an article I’ve written. Would you mind if I used yours in a future blog? Your experience and your observations serve to bolster enhance my case.
Thanks for taking the time to write.
Randy Mains is an author, public speaker, and a CRM/AMRM consultant who works in the helicopter industry after a long career of aviation adventure. He currently serves as chief CRM/AMRM instructor for Oregon Aero. He may be contacted at [email protected]