The FAA prepares to publish its study on pilots and automation

Back in 2010 at a Flight Safety Foundation seminar in Milan, Italy, Dr Kathy Abbott reported on her work in progress for the US Federal Aviation Administration on how pilots were failing to cope with aircraft automation.

Now the Wall Street Journal says the long-awaited FAA study is about to be published, and has leaked a number of the findings. They tally perfectly with what Dr Abbott told the FSF delegates in Milan four years ago, but the FAA has forbidden her talking to anyone – including me – between then and now. Why? It’s an acknowledged problem. What are they afraid of?

The WSJ’s Andy Paztor writes: “The latest [FAA] effort stands out due to the wide-ranging collection of experts who participated. It also breaks new ground because the panel members sifted through large volumes of voluntary safety reports filed by pilots, along with additional data gathered by cockpit observers on more than 9,000 flights world-wide.”

Maybe it’s that wide study and wider consultation that has slowed things down. Let’s wait and see whether that’s a good enough excuse.

Paztor continues: “After seven years of deliberations and persistent industry arguments about which accidents and incidents ought to be considered, the document lays out some sweeping recommendations to prevent what critics have dubbed ‘automation addiction’ in some cockpits.”

Watch this space for analysis as soon as the report is released.

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