AOPA Sends Great Aviation Safety Message: Pilots Keep your Attention on Flying

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ARTICLE: Aviation Safety: What Has Become of Us?


In 1903 the Wright Brothers and especially Orville, as the first to pilot powered flight, were literally connected to their aircraft at Kitty Hawk. Over the next 100 years, airframe and system manufacturers have incorporated more sophisticated systems, technology and computers to enhance performance and improve safety. One unintended side effect of new airplane technology is a slow drift away from manual flying skills and increased reliance on the systems to the point that many view that today’s cockpit crew’s critical function is to enter data into on-board computers and monitor system performance.

In that context, AOPA’s editor has done a terrific job of reviewing FAA Safety Alert for Operators (SAFO) 13002, to wit:

“A recent analysis of flight operations data (including normal flight operations, incidents, and accidents) identified an increase in manual handling errors. The [FAA] believes maintaining and improving the knowledge and skills for manual flight operations is necessary for safe flight operations.”

Spangler’s article traces a number of SAFOs through this theme. Essentially he is saying that an in-flight failure of a system, for example flight management (FMS) and autopilot (AP) is now a critical in-flight emergency that demands special training and practice such as disconnecting the FMS and AP and flying the airplane manually. Technology has so infiltrated flight that “manual flight” is almost the last resort.

Silly as it seems, the FAA recognized the problem and hence SAFO 13002. Good work FAA, great point Scott, one which we have repeatedly reported here.

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