Learning Center Library Contents

Down Arrow
Welcome Guest
Aviation Learning Center Document Glass Cockpit Flying Skills
Author: Susan Parson Date: March 2007
used for alignment
used for alignment
Viewing Options: View Document as Chapters Chaptersused for alignment View Full Document Full Documentused for alignment View Print-Friendly Document Printer Friendlyused for alignment Search Inside this Document Search Insideused for alignment View PDF Version of Document PDFused for alignment

used for alignment Next Chapter > used for alignment

used for alignment

Once upon a time, every office had a simple, practical machine called a typewriter. It took a little time to learn the basics of the QWERTY keyboard, but mastery of the machine was still a straightforward mechanical matter. Then along came progress in the form of computer-based "word processing." The computerized word processor could do much more than the humble typewriter...but it took longer to learn, and document creation was no longer a simple matter of typing in Pica or Elite. Instead, we had to learn to manage information, make the automation obey our wishes, and cope with the unintended consequence of seeing easier changes (anybody still remember White-Out?) lead to more changes. Nay-sayers abounded, but resistance to computerized word processing was ultimately futile. We have all been assimilated.

So what does office technology have to do with aviation? More than you might think, because a similar technological transition is occurring in the general aviation world. The simple six-pack of round gauge instrumentation is rapidly losing ground to the sleek and shiny new world of glass cockpit avionics that "boot" rather than "start." As with word processing programs, it takes longer to learn to fly these planes. However, their systems can do a lot more for the pilot. In fact, for pilots schooled in the traditions of stick-and-rudder for the basics and needle/ball/airspeed for instrument flying, it may still feel a bit like "cheating" to relinquish so much of the traditional piloting workload to a computer. What these pilots may not recognize is that accepting help on mundane tasks, such as keeping the wings level, gives them more time to spend on important decision-making tasks, like evaluating weather and considering alternatives. Those who invest the time and money to truly master glass cockpit aircraft will find that they have a lighter workload.

What does it take to be pilot-in-command of a glass cockpit aircraft? Just as the advent of word processing technology taught us that the mechanical mastery of the QWERTY keyboard was necessary but not sufficient, the rapid rise of glass cockpit avionics is showing us that pilot skills for both normal and emergency operations must include not just mechanical manipulation of stick and rudder, but also the mental mastery of three key flight management skills: information management, automation management, and risk management. Let's take a look.

used for alignment