How EFIS may be killing pilots

diggertwo

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http://www.pilotbug.com/?p=168

Something has been gnawing at me in aviation, which may spell trouble for relatively low time commercial pilots. Chances are today aviators who are training to become a professional pilots are doing so in one of the current generation of trainers. This means that they are probably using a modern EFIS equipped Cessna G-1000 or Cirrus Avidyne aircraft as your primary trainer. Continuing on toward the Instrument rating, pilots are fully integrated and comfortable with utilizing all of the capabilities of these truly remarkable pieces of avionics.


Trouble is, that while today’s pilots are trained in these thoroughly modern avionics suites, they are then thrust into the world of down and dirty entry level freight and Part 135 position flying old Cessna and Piper light twins. These aircraft, while capable, are equipped with the pre-1960’s technology of the “six pack” and analog instrumentation.


It is probably safe to say that by almost all accounts, the transition from analog instrumentation to modern EFIS equipped cockpits is not difficult, the same cannot be said the other way around. Scans must be developed and perfected in a way that takes much longer to acheive. This is due to the way the information is presented and the physical distance that the eye much travel. For a low time pilot who is in thier firs 100 hours or so, it could spell trouble.


EFIS was designed specifically to rectify the flaws that occur in flying with the previous generation of analog instrumentation. Studies of the scanning of the primary and secondary instruments were carefully researched and used to design the Primary Flight Display (PFD) which is now standard in all airliners and now being incorporated into more and more GA aircraft.


I hope that this will be identified as a hazard and that additional training may be incorporated prior to these pilots flying the line.
 

avbug

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To suggest that "EFIS" is a problem or at fault is grossly in error, for many EFIS systems do nothing more than replace conventional mechanical instruments with an electronic screen of the same size and shape, with a digital image of the same instrument. EFIS isn't the problem.

Poor training and poor skills are the problem.

The issue of transition between analog instrumentation and digital displays is widely discussed in the industry, and is not a new concern. It's well recognized.

Pilots transitioning from the traditional "six pack" tend to adapt to various digital or electronic displays much more readily than pilots who have been trained on a single display or a couple of displays trying to go the other way.

Pilots seldom complete flight training prepared for the real world. Many have never experienced a realistic engine failure or realistic emergency. Many don't understand basic aerodynamics, basic aircraft systems, or even the rudimentary basics of navigation beyond following the magenta line. These shortcomings aren't new, and haven't developed with the introduction of EFIS, FMS, GPS, or electronic displays...these are fundamental problems that have been around a long time.

EFIS is no more responsible for pilot fatalities than the legal production of medicinal drugs is responsible for suicides, or the lawful use and sale is responsible for murder with handguns. EFIS is a tool. How it is used, the preparation one makes before using it, and proper training on the job and before startin the job are certainly accountable players in the story...but EFIS itself does nothing more than present information. What the user does with that information, and the skill the user has in integrating other sources to produce the same situational picture and to fly the airplane, are at the heart of the matter, and these most certainly should be addressed.
 

phr8dawg

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I'm fairly certain ERAU or a number of other schools already did a study on this and they found that pilots raised on "moving map" displays and EFIS who moved back into the steam-gauge world had an edge in visualization skills over those raised on pure steam gauge. It was a bigger struggle for steam gauge drivers to go to all-glass. It depends far more on the effort that an individual makes to perfect the required skills.

In ten years RVSM will be at 10,000 feet and we will hear the latest 150-hour wonder-kid bragging about his autopilot skills. Ten years after that, all the freighters will be navigated by an avionics suite perfected on the "Global Hawk" and what few pilots remain will be steering with I-phones. Enjoy it while you can!
 
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I'm fairly certain ERAU or a number of other schools already did a study on this and they found that pilots raised on "moving map" displays and EFIS who moved back into the steam-gauge world had an edge in visualization skills over those raised on pure steam gauge. It was a bigger struggle for steam gauge drivers to go to all-glass. It depends far more on the effort that an individual makes to perfect the required skills.


Embry Riddle tooting their own horn.

What Avbug said.
 

bizicmo

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Why would new pilots do entry level freight or part 135? It takes them 3 times as much flight time to get on with those jobs versus an RJ.
 

scangadah

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Why would new pilots do entry level freight or part 135? It takes them 3 times as much flight time to get on with those jobs versus an RJ.
Have you tried to get on with a RJ operator recently?
 

bizicmo

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Not really, but since most rj operators have mins at well below 1000 and 135 operations have minimums above 1000, do the math.

Now when I say not really, I am unemployed so I am required to apply to at least 2 companies a week, so then yes I have.
 

brokeflyer

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pilot training today is a joke. Ive flown with fo's and capt's from regionals and a few other places that fall apart with a simple fms failure or other display problem.
 

scangadah

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Not really, but since most rj operators have mins at well below 1000 and 135 operations have minimums above 1000, do the math.

Now when I say not really, I am unemployed so I am required to apply to at least 2 companies a week, so then yes I have.
The minimums may as well be 1 hour of total time IF NOBODY IS HIRING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

So Mr. Unemployed, you might have to slum and go to a freight hauler.
 

acpilot

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Why would new pilots do entry level freight or part 135? It takes them 3 times as much flight time to get on with those jobs versus an RJ.
Some people don't want to fly for an airline. I'm glad I did the 135 freight route. In my opinion, flying in the single pilot IFR environment really teaches a pilot how to operate efficiently.
 

phr8dawg

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Those who have never been in the world of piston-poppin', mixture-leanin', cowl-flap flailing, frost-scrapin', world of 91/135 single-pilot have no idea what a blast it really was. I still miss it, but the money is in big tin. Time to move on.....
 

scangadah

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Those who have never been in the world of piston-poppin', mixture-leanin', cowl-flap flailing, frost-scrapin', world of 91/135 single-pilot have no idea what a blast it really was. I still miss it, .....

Amen to that!!!!!
 

wrxpilot

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I'm fairly certain ERAU or a number of other schools already did a study on this and they found that pilots raised on "moving map" displays and EFIS who moved back into the steam-gauge world had an edge in visualization skills over those raised on pure steam gauge. It was a bigger struggle for steam gauge drivers to go to all-glass.
I'd like to see the supposed study you're referring to. As a CFI, I trained students on both "steam" gauges and the G1000 "glass" avionics package. It was much, much easier to train students with a good scan to transition to "glass" than it was to transition students who learned on "glass" to steam gauges.

As far as visualization, that's what occurs when you're using traditional instruments and an approach plate. After awhile, the student develops situation awareness in their head. The guys that were raised on glass were completely incapable of this. As a result, I flat out refused to do initial training for students on glass IF they were planning on becoming professional pilots. After they'd developed a decent scan during instrument training, we'd begin the transition to the G1000. Fortunately there was a CFI shortage at the time, so the school management had to put up with my decision. I did have a couple of students that were not interested in professional flying and were planning on always flying glass, so I did all of their training in the G1000.

I fly an all glass airplane now (even our standby instruments are glass), and I know without a doubt my scan has become rusty. I get to use a sim every once in awhile to stay fresh on "steam" gauges, so when/if I lose my current job I won't kill myself if I get back into an old Navajo or something.
 

wrxpilot

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Not really, but since most rj operators have mins at well below 1000 and 135 operations have minimums above 1000, do the math.

Now when I say not really, I am unemployed so I am required to apply to at least 2 companies a week, so then yes I have.
That was in the past, and we won't see that for a long time (if ever again). Right now there are 135 operators hiring. There are no regionals hiring, and I think pretty much all of them except Skywest and Colgan have people furloughed. Years from now, when the regionals are hiring again, the minimums will be hire than 135 mins, you can be sure of that.
 

avbug

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I've had the same experience, and in talking with other instructors and with the FAA, it's generally agreed that pilots with a six pack scan transitioning to glass do much better and are more versatile and situationally aware, than pilots who are trained on a single display moving to a six pack.

Not long ago I attended a FAA conference on the topic, specific to training pilots going each way, and it was universally agreed by those participating, all instructors and examiners, that the better students and the more situationally aware and adaptable students, are those coming from the six pack to glass.

This doesn't mean that a pilot trained on a glass display is inherently weakened or flawed, but to go from a display where everything is presented in one, to multiple radios, instruments and functions, among which one's scan and interpretative functions must be rapidly and frequently divided, is a more demanding move than going the other way.

Do a little research on "children of the magenta line," and you may find, original poster, that it's not the EFIS, it's the training, and the blind following that goes with it.
 

bizicmo

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The minimums may as well be 1 hour of total time IF NOBODY IS HIRING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

So Mr. Unemployed, you might have to slum and go to a freight hauler.
I would rather do freight then go to a rj company. But I have my eyes set on jobs that are either non-flying or sorta flying.
 

kingairyahoo

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Why would new pilots do entry level freight or part 135? It takes them 3 times as much flight time to get on with those jobs versus an RJ.
...because you are posting in the 135 section of the board, not the regional section.

airlines are not the end-all of aviation jobs ;)
 

phr8dawg

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I defer to those CFIs with glass-given as a more credible source. I think the actual article may have been in AOPA some time back whereby they stated that moving-map experience helped with overall visualization skills and that glass had the advantage. I'm still flying in the stone age. S'cuse me, gotta kick the panel again to wake up them squirrels spinning the gyros.
 

avbug

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I think it's certainly reasonable that the greater one's exposure to various mediums and the more experience one has in a given environment, generally speaking the better an opportunity one has to enhance one's situational awareness.

Multi-function displays and combination instruments frequently seen in glass displays these days do certainlly tend to enhance situational awareness to some degree, yet manage to inhibit it in others if the user moves mindlessly forward with no effort beyond following the magenta line.

Several years ago an operator for whom I flew had a first officer who fit this mold...he was absolutely unwilling to put out any effort to expand his understanding. When tasked with something simple, such as falling back to laying in a manual course instead of selecting something from the FMS, he had no way to set up an airway, a radial, or fly a hold. One day he was enroute, somewhere in the middle of the country, and his captain pointed outside and asked this individual to tell him what airport he saw. The kid looked at his display, then at the airport, and said "it's in about the right position to be this one, but that can't be it."

The captain queried, "why can't that be it?"

"Because look at the runways. They don't go the same way as the ones in the display."

The captain noted, "Do you realize that the same symbol is used for all airplanes in the display...and that if an airport on the ground looks the same, it would be strictly a coincidence?"

This individual did not understand. Given his difficulty in followin the basic automation, and his inability to perform simple tasks when his attention was divided, I can scarcely imagine his incompetence with a basic six pack in a Seneca or a Baron.

One can never stray far from the basics, no matter what information is provided. Get get outside the loop and rely too much on automation or technology is to invite trouble when a lapse in either occurs...and it does, and will.
 

QOL_is_great:)

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It's great that high tech equipment has been made less expensive so it's found in the GA community. I do believe that basic flight instruction and basic instruments should be taught in an aircraft that has "old fashion" flight instruments and navigational equipment. It allows one to build on a solid foundation. Once the basics are taught then introduce the high tech world of a full glass flight package with FMS and GPS. Sometimes when all else fails one must go back to the basic (raw data) or green needles. What stops an individual from using a GPS during a cross-country flight when the skills required are a compass, eyes, clock, dead reckoning and while using T/D/H? They are only cheating themselves.

Recent incident and accidents we've seen have not been caused by lack of skills and knowledge in EFIS or full glass cockpits. Look at the Q400 crash in BUF, Air Frace Airbus crash, CRJ200 core freeze crash and how the LEX takeoff crash. Now of those had anything to do with a pilots lack of ability flying an airplane with EFIS or full glass.

Has a series of incidents/accidents in the GA world under Part 91 or any events in the Part 135 world happened due to the failure to a pilot's ability to handle the technology? I am not aware of any. Even the Cory Lidle crash in NYC along the East River was not due to his failure to understand the technology his plane had.
 
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