FAA Publication Focuses on Technology in Flight

Mark Phelps

The FAA's latest issue of its Safety Briefing magazine places its editorial focus on advanced technology and how pilots interact with it. There has been a lot of concern about pilots' overreliance on avionics and their lack of proficiency in basic flying skills. The FAA publication addresses some of the more pressing issues that face pilots in the age of the Internet.

The first article on the agenda is titled, "The (Lost) Art of Paying Attention." It starts with the author relating how she debriefed after a flight in a glass-cockpit Diamond DA40 and was initially pleased when her companion praised her skill in programming the avionics — then chastened by the observation that she had spent an inordinate amount of the flight in "head-down" mode.

In the article, "Avoiding Automation Bias," the author re-asserts the observation that basic flying skills have suffered as pilots have become more focused on manipulating the panel-mounted technology. He describes a flight near Washington, D.C., in which a strong wind gust knocked the airplane off autopilot and it took a fast reaction from the pilot to avoid not only busting the prohibited airspace, but also avoiding a loss of control. The same author also penned another article titled, "New Tech; New Procedures," focused on how we need to adapt our flying habits to accommodate the pros and cons of high technology in the cockpit.

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Mark Phelps is a senior editor at AVweb. He is an instrument rated private pilot and former owner of a Grumman American AA1B and a V-tail Bonanza.

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