Automation Issues Hit the Big Time on NPR

NPR brings home the safety issues of too much cockpit automation.

From the NPR story:

“It was a fairly busy time of the day. A lot of other airliners were arriving at the same time, which means that air traffic control needed each of us on very specific routes at specific altitudes, very specific air speeds, in order to maintain this smooth flow of traffic,” he says.

So, air traffic control told him to fly a particular course. He and the other pilot flying the jet set the flight automation system to do it.

“What I anticipated the aircraft to do was to continue this descent,” he says. “Well instead, the aircraft immediately pitched up, very abruptly and much to my surprise. And both of us reached for the yoke, going, ‘What’s it doing?’ and there’s that shock of, ‘Why did it do that, what’s it going to do next?’ “

We’ve posted on this topic before, when we discussed Dr. Sethmudnaven’s work and Dr. Sanchez’s work. For more cutting-edge automation failure research, watch these labs:

If your lab should be listed and isn’t, send me an email!