From: (Gregory R. TRAVIS)
Organization: Indiana University, Bloomington
Date:         27 Jun 95 01:43:08 
References:   1 2 3 4
Next article
View raw article
  or MIME structure

> I didn't say that we are ready to suppress pilots right now.
> So OK, maybe a fully automatic aircraft is not safer than the
> current pilot-system _cooperation_ (but systems replaced
> humans for many functions, right ?)
> Nonetheless, it's an absolute certainty that it will come.
> In 30 years from now, ATC will have to be totally automatic.

This is total fantasy.  Flying an aircraft from point A to point B
is a lot more than just activating control surfaces, maintaining
terrain clearance, and avoiding other aircraft.

I can think of dozens of examples of decision-making that a pilot
currently does that are not even on the computer science radarscope
(sorry).  The easiest example is weather.

Consider that your average airmass thunderstorm contains all the energy
(and then some) of a hydrogen bomb.  Consider also the difficulty in
devising an automated system that can, 100%, detect such a storm.  Consider
also the enormous cost to the airline if this system falsely detects such
storms, causing unnecessary delays.  Now try and integrate this system with
a fully automated ground ATC system with all of the obligatory rigidities.
Suddenly a couple of highly paid and competent humans up front starts to
sound positively economical.  Not to mention safer.

I'm a pilot.  I've also been in the industry (computers) for a decade and a
half.  I'm in no hurry to see the things fly me to Boston.

Pilot, computer scientist, luddite,