Pilot performance in highly automated aircraft needs to be improved, according to the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA).

A draft report from the agency's ongoing study aimed at developing an EASA automation policy has revealed some potential "paths for improvement".

EASA safety action coordinator Michel Masson presented the initial findings to the Flight Safety Foundation's European Aviation Safety Seminar in Dublin on 29 February.

The essential components of the problem have been divided into 17 detailed issues, said Masson, including the division of priorities between "flying the aircraft and managing the automation the transformation of the pilot's role", and "complacency, over-reliance on automation, and decision-making".

Crews, says the study, should be provided with more guidance on what the appropriate levels of automation are for different tasks and situations, which implies that airlines should have a published policy on this.

EASA's draft "paths for improvement" at this stage include revising multi-crew pilot licence and computer-based training requirements on automation management, and adopting a more evidence-based approach to the way automation management is taught in recurrent training and testing.

There are also suggested demands on manufacturers and operators to publish type-specific (rather than generic) automation policies. EASA also raises questions about "the certification of assumptions with regard to flight crew competencies" where automation is concerned.

The agency also suggests it should approve or harmonise "flight deck software customisation" - for example, electronic checklists and procedures, warning systems, and electronic flight bags.

Source: Flight International