Sir - Charles Manning says that British Airways pilots were "petulant" in threatening strike action (Letters, Flight International, 17-23 July, P38). In the event, a compromise agreement was reached with their employer, which sounds like healthy industrial relations to me.

As for replacing pilots entirely with automatic systems, if, indeed, we have had the technology available since 1947, I am surprised that we have not already seen all-cargo flights being operated on a pilotless basis.

If any major airline management seriously thought that its pilots could be fully replaced by computers, robots, or whatever, while maintaining its market share, the equipment would be on order and we pilots would be as good as extinct already.

-Sir - Charles Manning displays the very attitude which prestigious and safe airlines such as British Airways wish to keep out of their cockpits.

The best instructor I ever had told me: "Nature and physics will never be in harmony with human ambition in aviation. No matter how big, powerful, or reliable the aircraft, no matter how automated the cockpit, nature and physics make no allowance for it. It makes no distinction between a Tiger Moth or a [Boeing] 747. Never be complacent."

Mr Manning's statement that, nowadays, human crews are responsible for most aircraft accidents demonstrates an ignorance of the hundreds of instances where human crew actually saved an aeroplane from an accident, despite the best efforts of computers to do the opposite.

-Sir - On the first fully automatic take-off-to-touchdown transatlantic flight of 1947, the first fully automatic public-address system explained the situation and then guaranteed "-nothing can go wrong-can go wrong-can go wrong-"


Source: Flight International