Pilots’ Use of Automation Eyed in Air Crashes

By JOAN LOWY | December 3, 2013

Safety experts and government and industry studies say pilots are becoming so reliant on the computer systems that do most of the flying in today’s airliners that on the rare occasions when something goes wrong, they can be unprepared to assume control of the plane.

Pilots in airplane cockpitIncreasing automation has been a tremendous overall safety boon to aviation. But the automation has also changed the relationship between pilots and their aircraft, presenting new challenges.

The National Transportation Safety Board holds a two-day investigative hearing next week on the crash of an Asiana Airlines jet that was flying too low and slow while trying to land at San Francisco International Airport last July.

The board said the hearing will focus on “pilot awareness in a highly automated aircraft.”

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