Do you want a computer or pilot flying your plane?

Discussion in 'General Discussion | Travel' started by sobore, Aug 12, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. sobore
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    sobore Gold Member

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    http://mynorthwest.com/?nid=11&sid=528759

    We surrender a lot of our life to computers. They handle our finances and regulate our communications. Computers run factories and assembly lines without much human input, but how much autonomy do we want to give over to machines?

    That's an argument that has spilled over into your seat at 30,000 feet.
    Do you want the pilot or the plane calling the shots when you're over the Pacific? That's the base argument over the fly-by-wire systems used by Airbus and now being used by Boeing.

    Fly-by-wire basically means there are no cables from the controls that attach to the wings or tail to move the plane. It's just a series of wires connecting computers. Boeing still uses a yoke, or steering wheel, in the cockpit. Airbus uses a joystick on the sides of the pilot's seat.

    Read More:
    http://mynorthwest.com/?nid=11&sid=528759
     
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  2. milchap
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    milchap Gold Member

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    The long standing discussion ....Airbus versus Boeing...... ;)
     
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  3. Pharaoh
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    Pharaoh Gold Member

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    How about a measured combination of each?
     
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  4. iolaire
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    iolaire Gold Member

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    There is really no choice - unless you choose to not fly or fly in only dinky planes - computers are already driving the plane. "Fly by wire" is the standard from both manufacturers - this means its electronic control.

    It seems the article is really about do you want the computer to place limitations on what the pilot can do (but overrides are allowed), or if you prefer that the computer provide warnings when they are doing something out of norm but let you do it anyway.
     
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  5. uggboy
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    uggboy Gold Member

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    A combination sounds great, the best of both worlds, combined into ONE!:)
     
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  6. viguera
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    viguera Gold Member

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    You didn't see the Terminator, did you? I'm eyeballing my damn Roomba in case it decides to revolt one day. :)

    But in all seriousness I agree... pilots are obviously capable of better deductive reasoning than any computer out there. They can see a situation for what it is rather than what the computer is deciding based on input (say frozen pitot tubes).

    Still, with the help of computers and fly by wire, if everything is going smoothly, there's not much to worry about and the pilot should actually be the backup. Chances are the computer can interpret what's going on (radar, weather, etc) better and faster than the pilot can -- again, when everything is going smoothly.
     
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  7. jbcarioca
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    jbcarioca Gold Member

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    Reality is important. No modern airliner operates without technological help. The Boeing argument is about hydraulics and mechanical movements vs strict FBW. Despite the idea that the "pilot is in charge" and Airbus surrenders control that is untrue. Polit error in an Airbus can kill people just as it can in a Boeing. There are greater benefits in this argument by comparing accident records. Once you do that you discover that there is no measurable difference in accident rate nor in fatality rate. In both cases a single accident with fatalities, from whatever cause, can shift statistics, especially if the fleet size is small.

    I regard these arguments as all smoke and no fire. They do appeal to the popular sense of mystery, but have not much basis in fact. Anybody who has ever actually trained Airline Transport Pilots (I have) is unlikely to feel inclined to trust their judgement, in general. All major airframe and avionics manufacturers go a long way to protect the world from pilot error.

    When I was first receiving automated cockpit instruction I was reminded of the old saw:

    "This airplane has a crew of two, a person and a dog.
    The human is there to feed the dog.
    The dog is there to bite the human if the human touches anything"

    An exaggeration, but there is not very much for the crew to do, even in emergencies. The usual accident cause is pilot overreaction to a problem. The accident reports take hundreds of pages to determine that.
     
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  8. Lufthansa Flyer
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    Lufthansa Flyer Gold Member

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    oooh, I got it:
    autopilot-275x205.jpg
     
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  9. viguera
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    viguera Gold Member

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    Otto is the man... I hear he flies for Cathay now though. :)
     
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  10. iolaire
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    iolaire Gold Member

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  11. CrankyScott
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    CrankyScott Silver Member

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    How about something that will make a real difference, give us robot flight attendants!
     
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