Sunday, December 15, 2013

Automation Deflation

Well, there has been lots of news lately concerning the automation of aircraft control and the increasing perception that this may not be the best of ideas.

First on our list is the release of a report commissioned by the FAA concerning the use of automation on aircraft and the realization that there are negative unintended consequences. The report is available here.

The next item we'd like to point out is an interesting article in the Atlantic which starts with cockpit automation but continues on to draw conclusions about how the automation of tasks from flying airplanes to stock picking to reading X-rays eventually makes us stupid. Read it here.

Next on our tour is a NTSB hearing on the crash of Asiana 214, the 777 airliner which crashed on a clear day at San Francisco. There is quite a bit of talk concerning the challenges of landing an airliner on a calm clear day and how the automation failures may have contributed to the accident. Read a summary of the interviews here. While we have made our thoughts on this subject clear, in a backhanded way we may owe a debt of gratitude to these pilots who provided such a clear and unambiguous illustration of the dangers of over reliance on automation.

Lastly, we have a story which details how memory of an event may be impaired by the act of taking pictures of that event. We are not psychologists but found this story interesting for the reason that when a machine is inserted between humans and an activity, memories of that activity are diminished. This may or may not have implications for cockpit automation but it seems intriguing.

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Capt Rob