Sir - I get the impression from David Learmount's article "Cracked glass" (Flight International, 3-9 April, P30) that glass-cockpit aircraft today are less than flawless and that there is a revolution, not just an evolution, needed to bring them back on track.

Research into cockpit layout and the interface between pilot and systems of the future is, of course, positive in the general interest of improving flight safety, but I do not understand researchers' concern about the "complexity and sophistication" of current automated flightdecks.

A truly operational, and truly integrated, glass cockpit, such as that in the Airbus A320, is certainly a great step in flight safety. Flying the A320, I do not feel the so-called "inadvertent change in the role of the pilot". The statement that "...the pilot is more of a monitor and less a commander" does not reflect the operational reality of day-to-day A320 usage

Having flown more than 11,000h on conventional narrowbody and widebody aircraft and, as this company is now entering its sixth year of A320-200 operations with a fleet of six, there is no doubt in my mind that the A320 and its family represent a real step forward in flight safety and that this cockpit is setting standards of design, which could be used for decades to come.




Copenhagen, Denmark

...Sir - The role of the pilot started to change with the advent of the autopilot, the precursor of the existing form of automation where, from a total involvement in flying "hands-on", pilots started to let the autopilot do the flying and they started to monitor its performance.

The danger is not in automation, or in highly automated cockpits. It is in the ability of a new computer-pilot generation, which may not have the airmanship, air sense and flying skills developed through really flying aircraft, and not just merely pushing flight-management-system or other related automation buttons to deal with an emergency.

I have found the cockpit and automated systems of the A320 to be the most pleasant and efficient cockpit I have ever seen.


Gatineau, Quebec, Canada

...Sir - You omit to acknowledge that the seminar upon which the feature was largely based was a tripartite event, held at the Royal Aeronautical Society (RAeS), London, UK, in February, arranged jointly by the RAeS, the Guild of Air Pilots and Air Navigators (GAPAN) and the UK Flight Safety Committee.

Recognition should also be given to Capts Peter Bugge and John Robinson, both Liverymen of the Guild, whose original discussion paper, The Future Flight Deck, published jointly with the RAeS in 1995, was the inspiration for that subsequent and successful seminar.




London, UK

Source: Flight International