Re: AA965 proves Airbus bashers deadly wrong

From:         Steve Lacker <slacker@arlut.utexas.edu>
Organization: applied research laboratories
Date:         10 Feb 96 15:12:10 
References:   1
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cp@panix.com (Charles Platt) wrote:
>Jean-Francois Bosc (bosc@perige.eis.enac.dgac.fr) wrote:
>> Still nobody suggests that the driver should keep total control on braking
>> power, because only a few people (probably only race pilots, and not all
>> of them) are able to apply optimal braking in an emergency situation ...
>
>I love these all-purpose sweeping statements. If "nobody suggests..." I
>guess that means I must be a nobody, because *I* certainly prefer the
>option to brake creatively in slippery conditions.

<snip>

>True, such techniques are beyond the experience or needs of most drivers.
>But if driver education was as rigorous as pilot training, and focused as
>fully on emergency situations (including practice time in simulators), you
>might find a lot of drivers preferring the option to override ABS, and for
>very good reasons.

You use the example of the average driver- I'd like to take that a little
further. As a car enthusiast, my opinion of the average driver is pretty low-
the average driver has an "I turn the key and it goes" philosophy. He doesn't
change his own oil or spark plugs, and doesn't rotate his own tires (heck, most
don't even walk around the car before driving it to make sure there's *air* in
all the tires). He doesn't know the performance limits of his car. He doesn't
feel, smell or hear when something begins to degrade, then rants at how crummy
his car is when he winds up stranded. I don't claim to be a great driver, but I
try to be an *aware* driver, and I try to understand the capabilites of each
car I drive, and be aware of how it is functioning at all times.

Now, to the point of airliners. A pilot should be *very* different from the
"average" driver I described above, yet we are now seeing whole families of
airliners (all manufacturers) that are being made to "feel" the same to the
pilot despite the fact that they are very *different* with different
capabilites. (eg: the A330/A340,  and to a lesser degree the B767/B757). My
concern is that pilots can easily lapse into an "I pull the stick and it flies"
approach, as they become more and more isolated from the real feels/cues and
feedback that the plane gives. Hopefully, this is just a growing pain of
aircraft automation systems, and the situation will improve as the technology
matures. Automation has the potential to *improve* a pilot's awareness, but if
done even slightly wrong it can have the opposite effect.


--
Steve Lacker	/	Applied Research Laboratories, The University of Texas
512-835-3286	/	PO Box 8029, Austin TX 78713-8029
slacker@arlut.utexas.edu