February 2, 2016
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) estimates that automation is used 90 percent of the time in flight. However, the FAA does not have a process to ensure that air carrier pilots are trained to use and monitor automation systems while also maintaining proficiency in manual flight operations.
A recent Department of Transportation, Office of Inspector General Audit Report (published January 7, 2016) relates a lack of appropriate pilot training to specific recent aviation accidents.
The July 2013 crash of Asiana Airlines flight 214, showed that pilots who typically fly with automation can make errors when confronted with an unexpected event or transitioning to manual flying.
The August 2013 crash of August 2013 crash of UPS flight 1354 found that both pilots failed to monitor the aircraft’s altitude during the final approach into Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport.
The major FAA oversight weaknesses that the report stated are:
- FAA Has Not Ensured Air Carriers Adequately Train and Evaluate Pilot Monitoring Skills
- FAA Lacks a Process To Determine How Often Pilots Use Manual Flying Skills
- FAA Has Not Ensured That Air Carrier Training Programs Adequately Focus on Manual Flying Skills
The report goes on to make several recommendations to enhance the FAA's ability to ensure that air carriers sufficiently address pilot monitoring and manual flying skills.