Aircraft Cockpit Automation - Good or Bad

optomist1

A Sea of Statistics
Trusted Information Resource
#1
With the recent tragedy re: Lion Air Flight JT610...and the not too distant Air France Flight 447 tragedy, has the commercial aviation field reached;
1) the point of technological saturation,
2) an undue over reliance upon technology negating or dulling the most basic aspects of pilot skills or
3) is it case of too much technology foisted upon aircraft crews too quickly

Your thoughts and insight will be appreciated....
optomist1
 
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John Broomfield

Staff member
Super Moderator
#2
Autonomous vehicles also expect drivers to keep the driving skills sharp and instantly available for an unpredictable 1% of the time.

How these designs pass validation is a bit of a mystery to me.
 

Marc

Hunkered Down for the Duration
Staff member
Admin
#3
I remember the first FBW ("fly by wire") aircraft and how many pilots who cringed at the idea of no direct controls (myself included).

It's not a choice any more than "self driving cars" are the future.

In the long run automation is good with the understanding that nothing is fail-safe at this point in time, nor do I personally believe anything will ever be totally fail-safe.

How these designs pass validation is a bit of a mystery to me.
Flight simulators.
 

John Broomfield

Staff member
Super Moderator
#4
Flight simulators that give pilots nothing to do except randomly?

Or flight simulators that show what happens when pilot and copilot compete in trying to regain control of an aircraft?

Hopefully the simulator permutations are validated too.
 

Marc

Hunkered Down for the Duration
Staff member
Admin
#5
Flight simulators that give pilots nothing to do except randomly?

Or flight simulators that show what happens when pilot and copilot compete in trying to regain control of an aircraft?
Both. Part of the whole idea is to present potential emergency and very "confusing" scenarios. Even flight simulators have to be validated.

In addition, when an aircraft is certified, before it can be sold, there are quite a few actual highly instrumented flights as a combination "verification/validation" of the actual aircraft. E.g.: Boeing 707 - Wikipedia - A very interesting case.


 

optomist1

A Sea of Statistics
Trusted Information Resource
#6
Even more sobering...for the “autopilot flight management system”, what did the DFMEA look like, how well was it vetted?
 

optomist1

A Sea of Statistics
Trusted Information Resource
#7
purely in the name of constructive discussion, (no ill will towards the aerospace folks as I too came from the Aero/Defense field....they have an incredibly important, difficult and immensely rewarding task/profession), any parallels or common factors between the Air France 447, Lion Air and Ethiopian Airline tragedies? Food for thought again based upon very limited/preliminary info thus far; it appears as though in all cases, that a relatively inexpensive part(s); $30K?? was in part responsible for bringing down $140M - $250M planes...ultimately the deaths of +600 passengers?
1) should not a properly executed DFEMA address such eventualities? Iced Pitot Tube/Airspeed Indicator System, an apparently malfunctioned (AOA) Angle Of Attach indicator​
2) assuming item one is for the moment valid, what of sensor or system redundancy​
3) software's role in the above; does it result in a false sense of security>>a lessening of basic pilot skills?​
 

Marc

Hunkered Down for the Duration
Staff member
Admin
#10
I look at it this way - All things, over time, eventually reveal failure modes that, particularly in hind sight, would seem to have been "obvious". And, looking at the history of the industrial revolution, so many things from medicines to steam engines have evolved. Changes intended to improve something often have unintended negatie consequences.

Many times improvements come from earlier errors or omissions or simply things never thought of at the time. And, as technology keeps advancing at a faster rate than many people expected, new failure modes will surface.

I don't disagree with the LA Times article, design modifications vs. "designing from scratch" can be problematic. Yet, most things are from earlier designs which are modified. Very little comes from a totally new design.

As to the crash, what I have been reading is that Boeing "imporoved" interactive computer and sensor systems and controls, one of which had to do with software which monitors for stalls. "Somehow" it came to pass that Boeing did not update pilot traininng recommendations for pilots to be trained on what to do when software over rode, or conflicted, with their manual control. The short story: Software took control without a warning telling pilots it had (and why), and there had been no training to recognize when this was occurring and how to quickly turn off the auto-correct system so that they could fully take over manual control.

An "OK" video​

Typically these days manual control is maintained untl the aircraft reaches approximately 1000 feet AGL. At that time the auto-pilot system is engaged and typically flies the aircraft until it is very close to the destination airport and has descended to approximately 1500 feet AGL when the pilot takes manual control. Note that the auto- systems are quite good these days and in some cases can come close to actually landing the aircraft at properly equipped airports.


"Going Back to Simplicity" - Always sounds good but is always unrealistic. "I remember when..." stories are typically idealized "memories".

Time marches on... No one can turn back time and no one can predict all potential new failure modes.
 
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