News / USA

FAA Study Issues Recommendations to Correct Pilot Overreliance on Automation

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration has released a comprehensive study that says airline pilots are relying too much on automation - which could lead to dangerous situations. The findings are in line with what Voice of America first reported in August regarding the crash of an Asiana Airlines plane in San Francisco. Details of the new study has implications for travelers worldwide.

Aviation experts call it automation addiction, an overreliance on the computerized flying of passenger jets. But that same technology has helped make airline travel safer than ever. The report by the Federal Aviation Administration agrees with that, but says pilots are not as skilled at manually flying a plane in emergencies or when transitioning back from automation to manual.

VOA first reported "automation addiction” as a possible issue in July's crash of an Asiana jetliner. The Boeing 777 hit a seawall in San Francisco as the pilots were attempting a typical manual approach. The crash killed three and injured more than 180.  

Vic Hooper flew as a captain with Asiana until two years ago. He said his first officers preferred to fly on autopilot rather than manually. “Sometimes, I would push them a little bit beyond what they had done. Like I’d try to get them to fly a visual approach. They were very uncomfortable with that,” he said.

“We call that culture “children of magenta,” said former pilot trainer Ross Aimer, referring to the magenta color that highlights the route on the high tech instrument panel.

“There are times where an experienced pilot should be able to totally disconnect all the technology and go back to the basics,” said Ross "Rusty" Aimer, a former pilot trainer.

The report found that in one-fourth of the crashes studied, the pilots were overconfident in the automation and sometimes deferred to it, rather than interrupting it. It pointed to what it called an "erosion of manual flying skills" that could get worse in the future.

John McGraw said it's something we can all relate to. He spent 17 years with the FAA and is now an airline consultant.

“If you watch how people drive today, with all the automated systems they have in cars, some people can manage and some can’t, and they are doing that with no training,” said McGraw.

The report recommends more manual flying, and especially training for rare events. But simulator training costs money and takes pilots away from flying the plane - the revenue maker for airlines.

Michael Huerta, who leads the FAA, said, "With technology that we now have available to us in flight simulators, we are able to very, very significantly enhance training."

The report looked at 26 crashes worldwide until 2009 - no recent ones, like the Asiana crash.  

The NTSB contacted VOA after our Asiana story aired and interviewed the pilots featured in our series. The board will hold hearings on the crash in December and release its findings sometime after that.

Carolyn Presutti

Carolyn Presutti is an Emmy and Silver World Medal award winning television correspondent who works out of VOA’s Washington headquarters.   She has also won numerous Associated Press awards and a Clarion for her coverage of The Syrian Medical Crisis, Haiti, The Boston Marathon Bombing, Presidential Politics, The Southern Economy, and The 9/11 Bombing Anniversary.  In 2013, Carolyn aired exclusive stories on the Asiana plane crash and was named VOA’s chief reporter with Google Glass.

You can follow Carolyn on Twitter at CarolynVOA, on Google Plus and Facebook.

You May Like

Taliban's New Leader Says Jihad Will Continue

Top US Afghan diplomat also meets with Pakistani, Afghan officials following news of Mullah Omar's death More

Video US Landmark Pushes Endangered Species

People gathered in streets, on rooftops in Manhattan to see image highlights that covered 33 floors of Empire State Building More

World’s Widest Suspension Bridge Being Built Over Bosphorus

Once built, Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge will span 2 kilometers with about 1.5 kilometers over water, and will be longest suspension bridge in world carrying rail system More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Kitagawa Keikoh from: TKO
November 22, 2013 6:32 PM
Technology should be used to assist the flight not to control the flight. Pilots should understand they have a responsebilty to control the airplane. I think that the lack of responsebility is the cause of overreliance of autopilot.

Please think about why pilots get higher salary than other drivers such as trains, buss and ships. That's not because they have a dangerous job but because they have a huge responsebility of passangers and thier family life.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Communityi
X
Sharon Behn
August 03, 2015 2:23 PM
A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Community

A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Bangkok Warned It Soon Could Be Submerged

Italy's Venice and America's New Orleans are not the only cities gradually submerging. The nearly ten million residents of the Bangkok urban area now must confront warnings the city could become uninhabitable in a few decades. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Thai capital.
Video

Video Inclusive Gym Gets People With Disabilities in Fitness Spirit

Individuals with special needs are 58 percent more likely to be obese than the general population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they also have an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression and social isolation. But a sports club outside Washington wants to make a difference in these people's lives. With Carol Pearson narrating, VOA's June Soh reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Special Olympics Show Competitors' Skill, Determination

Special Olympics competitions will wrap up Saturday in Los Angeles, and the closing ceremony for athletes with intellectual disabilities will be held Sunday night. In a week of competition, athletes have shown what they can do through skill and determination. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Shooter’s Grill: Serving Food with a Touch of the Second Amendment

Shooter's Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, attracts visitors from all over the world as well as local patrons. The reason? Waitresses openly carry loaded firearms as they serve food, and customers are welcome to carry them, too. VOA's Enming Liu and Lin Yang paid a visit to Shooter's Grill, and heard different opinions about this unique establishment.
Video

Video Despite Controversy, Business Owner Continues Sale of Confederate Flags

At Cooter’s, a store in rural Sperryville, Virginia, about 120 kilometers west of Washington, D.C., Confederate flags are flying off the shelves. The red, white and blue battle flag, with 13 white stars representing the Confederate states, was carried by southern forces during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. The South had seceded from the Union over several key issues of disagreement, including slavery. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs