30 September 2012

Airlines working within the development team of A350 XWB in the Airline Office ask to increase the amount of hand-flying to give in the flight simulator to pilots

In the article written by David Learmount, it is stated that Airbus is going to train pilots for its A350 XWB differently. The first 3 days in the A350 simulator will be about letting the pilots find out that it is "just another aeroplane". Without using any of the sophisticated flight guidance systems they will be able to find out how it flies and what that feels like. These pilots may not have done that for years on the aircraft they fly now, so they might find out a few things about themselves as well as the A350.

Airbus' flying training manager David Owens said that pilots will not be allowed to switch on the automatic systems until they have learned how to fly the aeroplane.

Although Owens didn't spell it out, it seems Airbus is beginning to learn that never letting the pilots treat the aeroplane like a flying machine means they never find out what it can do. And more importantly, what it can't.

Loss of control has, in the last 20 years, become a killer phenomenon.

But really what is behind this change of training philosophy is the difference between Airbus and Boeing regarding the sidesticks (Airbus) and control columns (Boeing), with their pros and cons, same as autothrust and autothrottle.
There were too many incidents/accidents that could be avoided if the crew had a more thorough knowledge of basic flying skills. And this is the way for pilots to practice for Loss of Control in various situations. Many times, automation overreliance or dependence appears to be a type-agnostic problem.
Airbus sidesticks and the lack of tactile feedback.
Pilots are pointing out that the lack of tactile feedback to them is a serious design flaw on behalf of Airbus. “It would still be possible to have motorised feedback through sidesticks/thrust levers however it would introduce significant additional complexity to that part of the aircraft and was therefore excluded. It definitely detracts from the aircraft operation from a pilot's perspective, no question about it.
But we have to remember that pilots are in charge of the aircraft, NOT the computers and that they will have to take over whenever they deem necessary.
Tactile-oral-visual feedback (in that order):
1) Tactile feedback is the most favorable, because even if somebody is in an 'overload' situation, he will still respond to something he feels
2) Oral feedback is the second option (and less favorable to the first)
3) Third and last is the visual cue, because it expects somebody to actually look in a particular direction in order to be detected...
 Boeing 787 control column and Airbus A320 sidestick

Use the level of automation appropriate for the task:
Will our future pilots be able to fly their aircraft without the assistance of autopilots and computers when necessary if they never get the chance to practice these skills during normal operation?
A related factor is that a pilot whose job is merely to watch the aircraft fly itself is unlikely to be as well motivated as one who can get his or her hands on the controls now and then. Designers of future aircraft and airline managers must address the issue of how much and under what conditions pilots should be allowed, or indeed encouraged, to fly manually and without guidance systems. It is likely that compared to a mere aircraft monitor, a skilled, motivated pilot will always make a greater overall contribution to flight safety.
Airbus, pushed by Airlines working within the development team of A350 XWB in the Airline Office, is increasing the amount of hand-flying to give in the flight simulator, with first 3 FFS sessions mainly dedicated to raw-data flying and later on, with a lot alternate/direct law flying, which (by necessity) will be also hand-flown.
But Airlines should change their minds too; under a vague "use the automation level appropriate for the task", Airlines should not read as "use full automation at all times” asking pilots to keep maximum automation level at all times.
But, why limit the new philosophy to the A350 XWB?

Based on the article “Airbus takes pilots back to basics with the A350“ published in FloghGlobal

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