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View Diary: Flight Engineer - A Dying Breed (106 comments)

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  •  I have to partially disagree. (1+ / 0-)
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    I agree in that a pilot as to understand the general operation of the systems and the overall aircraft thought of as the whole system in itself. She has to know what the malfunction is and how it impacts the operation. But the modern aircraft already do most of that work and graphically display what is working and what is not. The warning system even tells the crew what they need to do to solve a problem and each airline backs that up with tailored procedures and manuals to further ensure successfully overcoming a problem.

    Where I disagree is that the modern system is so integrated that it is impossible to understand how each subsystem works to the extent we understood them in the days before the 757. The new generation of aircraft would require a pilot to not just understand a system but the way in which the computer monitoring and control works as well as what other system might be involved. I have to acknowledge that my airline did it right by deciding to forgo in depth knowledge that had the usefulness of trivia and focus on important things. The operating limits for example became is it green, good, yellow, maybe not so, or red, bad instead of a lengthy list of numbers that you no longer have the ability to monitor anyway. Further they were able to successfully transfer that philosophy to our other fleets including old generation airplanes. We went to far in a couple cases but that got corrected.

    I understand that most people are still concerned for their safety. Your ATM example shows that concern but I don't think you appreciate the level of redundancy in the designs, the maintenance programs, or extensive training and competency testing that goes into an airline operation. The point I'd like to make is that the fatal single point of failure is pretty much a thing of the past. There has to be multiple failures in the people, machine, and/or operation for someone to get hurt. A look at the safety record with appreciation for the amount of flying done speaks to a system that is not flawless but one that requires lots of people to have a very bad day for anyone to get hurt.

    Time makes more converts than reason. Thomas Paine, Common Sense

    by VTCC73 on Mon Jan 21, 2013 at 12:59:47 AM PST

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