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Cockpit Automation - Where will it end?

Discussion in 'The Okie Corral' started by C150J, Dec 9, 2003.

  1. C150J

    C150J Crackberry

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    Hey guys,

    Personally, I thoroughly enjoy the level of automation in modern-day cockpits (not to say that I don't enjoy stick and rudder flying, also). There's something about programming a route into an FMS, turning knobs, punching in numbers, and watching the machine's precision that I like (I was a crewmember in a decked out Cheyenne IIIA for a summer). However, where will this automation take us? We're already seeing UAVs become UCAVs, taking the pilot away from danger (a good thing) - will we eventually see crews reduced to one person on commercial flights? Will freight be hauled with no crew on board? What do you all think?


    Although we're all pilots, and therefore inherently biased, I think we can discuss this in an objective manner. Personally, I think the US Airspace system, along with weather, are too variable to put in the hands of a computer when dealing with human lives. However, I can easily see UAVs take the role of "eye in the sky" traffic reporting, border protection (surveillance), and limited freight function (I wouldn't entrust an important FedEx to a UAV, but maybe lesser items) within my lifetime (I'm twenty).

    Thoughts?
    J.
     
  2. Bushflyr

    Bushflyr ʇno uıƃuɐɥ ʇsnɾ Millennium Member

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    Rumor has it that that the 7E7 is only going to have 1 pilot and a dog up front. The pilots job is to feed the dog and the dog's job is to bite the pilot if he tries to touch anything. ;)

    There'll always be someone up front if for no other reason than passenger confidence.
     

  3. Patriot328

    Patriot328 B756

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    I'm ripping off a quote from a former Top Gun instructor, but...




    "Even Star Wars had pilots"


    We'll be around for a while. Computers are great at mundane tasks, but they can't make a decision worth sh*t. Also, I'll trust my stick and rudder flying coming into BOS on a 40kt wind day over a computer any day of the week.


    I have this really cool feature hardwired into my system that I think any pilot here, no matter what the experience level, will agree to. It's called the gut check. If I've got a funny feeling in my stomach, we're not going.. damn dispatch and the CPO (not that I've had a problem)... If I don't feel right because of weather or such, we aren't going. A computer can't do that.
     
  4. Wulfenite

    Wulfenite The King

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    The thing that's realy begging for upgrading is the whole communications aspect. It would seem to be a pretty easy thing to create a data link between controlers and aircraft. You could do it either through some sort of burst transmisson onthe existing frequencies or on a separate frequency.

    I would think that a relatively simple computer interface could be devised that would allow pilots to communicate with ATC non verbally. For instance. You might program your IFR route into your gps, up load that to the communications module to turn it into a flight plan module then hit send. Go out and preflight. Then hit the "ready to taxi" button (the module would add the N number automatically). ATC would hit a button to send you your ammended clearance. You'd read it on a screen at your leasure and acknowledge. Your taxi clearance would then come back. The module could also be set to read atc communications into your headset whenever the plane is in motion. A computer wouldent have to be all that smart to keep track of what phase of flight you're in and have a short list of commands on hot key appropriate to what you're doing. Hand off's could be completely automated. The computer would just tell you that XYZ center is now with you. You would always have the voice channel for non routine communications and the frequency would be much less congested without all the prefunctory communications. The computer could also recognize frequencies and approach information and automatically set up the correct frequencies in the flip flops.
     
  5. C150J

    C150J Crackberry

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    Wulfenite,

    SOME of that s already here. You can get a clearance via FMS datalink, as well as pre-programmed auto-dialing radio freq's with some avionics.

    J.
     
  6. dozing4dollars

    dozing4dollars Plasticized ! CLM

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    Give me all of the automation available!
    I will use the automation tools that are necessary and appropriate for the task at hand (CatII/III), or as directed by company procedures.

    After 8-14 hours in the aluminum tube, on the "backside of the clock", I'm not really too interested in hand-flying an approach to even Cat I mins (1800 RVR).

    As far as emergencies go, the EICAS/ECAM systems are invaluable in identifying and dealing with systems malfunctions.

    Many of the automated ATC functions alluded to in the above posts are already in use worldwide. With the advent of ADS/CPDLC/SATCOM and the like, many routine tasks are already performed by datalink and enhance safety due to their clarity and timeliness.

    The new generation of FBW aircraft require us to be computer programmers, system analysts and last but not least, quick thinking, disciplined and actively engaged PILOTS! It is always a challenge to avoid the trap of "automatic complacency".
     
  7. glocknsail

    glocknsail

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    Airlines at least will always have to have pilots so that they will have someone to blame.

    There can however advances to be made theat at least cuts down on radio chatter. A datalink system example.

    NOW:

    atc "glockflight 17 turn right to 250, climb and maintain flight level 310"
    glockflight "glockflight 17 turning right to 250, climb to and maintain 310"

    FUTURE:
    atc clicks on glockflight 17
    click on heading, types 250
    clicks on altitude, types 310
    send

    glockflight gets the info on the MFD and it autmatically changes the heading to 250 and the altitude preselect to 31000
    glockflight's crew hits the "confirm button" (now the aircraft does the action AFTER the "confirm") and sends the responds back to atc.

    Seems like alot but it could work and cut down on blocked calls.
     
  8. Patriot328

    Patriot328 B756

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    Best answer yet.
     
  9. TheGrinch

    TheGrinch

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    Actually, this technology is as old as the introduction of the F14A in the early (operational) 70's. The Tomcat can be coupled to datalinked commands from an E2C, Awacs, etc, and be "flown" by the controller in heading only. Commands can be set for speed and altitude as well, but must be inputed by the pilot.

    This is the format we need for datalinked ATC commands, a heading or altitude bug that slews to the "commanded value", with the pilots making the inputs to comply. We do not need this data coming into the cockpit in a textual form. The F14 had an inner and outer bug, one was the datalink value, the other was the pilot value.

    Best,

    Grinch
     
  10. glocknsail

    glocknsail

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    As noted by the Grinch, everything gets preselected, and hitting the confirm button completes the action. Aviation technology is an oxymoran. Race cars get it first, then the boating world, and so on and so on, till the 13-year-old next door gets it for Christmas. Two years after that it gets blessed by the FAA and when it is forced by law into the airline world we finally get to see it.