Automation in the air dulls pilot skill

Aug 30, 2011 By JOAN LOWY , Associated Press
In this Feb. 12, 2009, file photo, a plane burns after it crashed into a house in Clarence Center, N.Y., Authorities say it was Continental Airlines Flight 3407 operated by Manassas, Va.-based Colgan Air. Airline industry and safety officials are concerned that pilots’ flying skills are becoming rusty and their ability to handle unexpected situations is eroding because most flying is delegated to computers in today’s highly automated planes. (AP Photo/David Duprey, File)

(AP) -- Safety and industry officials worry that there will be more deadly airline accidents traced to pilots who have lost their hands-on instincts as planes become ever more reliant on automation to navigate crowded skies.

The says hundreds of people have died over the past five years in 51 "loss of control" accidents in which planes stalled during flight or got into unusual positions that pilots could not correct. In some cases, pilots made the wrong split-second decision, with catastrophic results.

One airline captain, Rory Kay, says pilots get so little time to manually fly that they're "forgetting how to fly." Kay is co-chairman of a committee on pilot training.

Regulations that require greater reliance on computerized flying are helping spur the trend.

Explore further: Four questions about missing Malaysian plane answered

not rated yet
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Pilots at risk for cosmic cataracts

Aug 08, 2005

Researchers say they've determined airline pilots are at increased risk of cataracts usually associated with aging as a result of cosmic radiation.

Lawmakers seek ban on laptops in airliner cockpits

Nov 03, 2009

(AP) -- Lawmakers are moving to ban the use of computer laptops and other personal electronic devices in airline cockpits to prevent another incident like the Northwest Airlines plane that overshot Minneapolis by 150 miles.

New tracking system boosts pilot safety

Jul 03, 2008

Pilots will no longer be out of sight as they fly cross-country thanks to a new tracking system developed by Massey University mechatronics graduate and a former staff member.

NASA wants to smooth bumpy plane rides

Jul 20, 2005

Most airline passengers and even flight crews don't like turbulence, so NASA researchers have developed an automatic turbulence reporting system.

Recommended for you

Four questions about missing Malaysian plane answered

Apr 19, 2014

Travelers at Asian airports have asked questions about the March 8 disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 while en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. Here are some of them, followed by answers.

Under some LED bulbs whites aren't 'whiter than white'

Apr 18, 2014

For years, companies have been adding whiteners to laundry detergent, paints, plastics, paper and fabrics to make whites look "whiter than white," but now, with a switch away from incandescent and fluorescent lighting, different ...

Freight train industry to miss safety deadline

Apr 16, 2014

The U.S. freight railroad industry says only one-fifth of its track will be equipped with mandatory safety technology to prevent most collisions and derailments by the deadline set by Congress.

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

COCO
not rated yet Aug 31, 2011
best I heard from an avionics engineer was that soon only the pilot and a dog will be in the cockpit - the dog's role is to bite the pilot if he wants to touch anything. Pilots today are mostly video kids - wimps like those on 911 who let their themselves be taken with exacto blades.

More news stories

Making graphene in your kitchen

Graphene has been touted as a wonder material—the world's thinnest substance, but super-strong. Now scientists say it is so easy to make you could produce some in your kitchen.

Low tolerance for pain? The reason may be in your genes

Researchers may have identified key genes linked to why some people have a higher tolerance for pain than others, according to a study released today that will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology's 66th Annual ...

How to keep your fitness goals on track

(HealthDay)—The New Year's resolutions many made to get fit have stalled by now. And one expert thinks that's because many people set their goals too high.

Less-schooled whites lose longevity, study finds

Barbara Gentry slowly shifts her heavy frame out of a chair and uses a walker to move the dozen feet to a chair not far from the pool table at the Buford Senior Center. Her hair is white and a cough sometimes interrupts her ...