Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Children of the Magenta

So here is day 4.

This morning we discussed advanced aircraft maneuvering and unusual attitudes. Recovering a swept wing, high performance aircraft is not the same as recovering a Cessna 172. That discussion lasted 4 hours. Same presentation I saw when I was new 4 years ago.

Lunch break. I brought my lunch. Saves money and calories. Nice greek salmon salad. During lunch I sat with the pilots I know who are doing the same transition I am doing. We discussed the pros and cons of the new aircraft versus the old.

After lunch we went to a FMS (Flight Management System) room for a kinda hands on with the FMS. For the new hires it was their first time interacting with an FMS and dealing with "flying" at the same time.

The FMS is the heart of a modern airliner. Knowing how to use it is extremely important, but shouldn't be a crutch.

During the Advanced Aircraft Maneuvering discussion it was brought up that many pilots are becoming "Children of the Magenta" meaning they are too dependent on automation and forget how to "fly the damn plane". There were several examples of accidents caused by pilots (skilled aviators) getting caught up in asking, "What's this thing doing?" versus reverting back to basic flying. I could go on...and might one day. I will say that I found myself becoming a "child of the magenta" shortly after getting on at my airline. I had to start kicking myself to, at least once a trip, turn off all the automation (no flight director/Vnav etc) and just fly the plane. Especially on a departure without a SID or an simple arrival. I would never depart from an airport with an GPS SID and turn off automation. That's asking for, "Advise when ready to copy phone number..." coming over the radio.

Back to the FMS practice.

This new FMS is very different from my last. It took the "veteran" pilots an hour or so to start connecting the dots. An FMS is garbage in/garbage out. A pilot can put in bad information and the plane will take it and fly....right into the ground.

The new hires are still struggling. I struggled a bit when I was new. They will get it in time.

We did a "flight" on the computer and...well for many of them they were confused as all get out.

Tomorrow I think we start systems....I think.

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