Facing the Unexpected in Flight: Human Limitations and Interaction with Technology in the Cockpit
Airline pilots often have to face sudden, unexpected situations that can become potentially dangerous. They are trained to deal with these situations, but sometimes the lack of time before the situation deteriorates and the associated stress can compromise their basic cognitive sequence and lead to a serious incident or even an accident. This book identifies common denominators in pilots’ reactions to dangerous, unexpected events and highlights behavior common to all in complex, stressful situations. Facing the Unexpected in Flight: Human Limitations and Interaction with Technology attempts to clarify the human characteristics at play in stressful situations, with the goal of providing a more solid basis for designing aeronautical operating equipment and shaping future automation. The book applies an original cognitive analysis method to highlight actual operational behavior within a quick succession of short mental segments lasting less than one minute in all. This rational method of assessing human potential should contribute to a more effective distribution of roles and help to optimize the pilot-aircraft interface. The current drive towards total automation, together with the drone revolution and questions of cost-effectiveness within a global economy, raises the question of whether there is a need for pilots onboard aircraft. So, after scientifically dissecting human limitations and advantages in terms of flying an aircraft, the book concludes with reflections by the author on the possibility and implications of eliminating pilots from aircraft. In this section, the author sets aside scientific rigor and provides his sometimes subjective personal opinions on the professional future of airline pilots.
About the Author
Dr. Jean Pinet’s basic training was in engineering. He joined the Centre d’Essais en Vol (French flight test center) where he became flight test engineer in 1957 and experimental flight test pilot in 1958. In 1965, he joined the Concorde flight test team at Sud Aviation until the Aerospatiale Concorde program came to an end in 1985. He was responsible for testing the flight-handling qualities of the aircraft and for customer crew training. In 1972, he founded the Aeroformation training center (today Airbus Training), which he directed until his retirement in 1994. He designed and set in place the Concorde and Airbus A300 to A340 training systems. He participated in training activities as a pilot instructor, still carrying out test flights as a test pilot. Concerned by the problems of the crews’ operational behavior, Dr. Pinet co-founded the Icarus Committee of the Flight Safety Foundation and the European Institute of Cognitive Engineering EURISCO. He successfully completed a PhD in psychology-ergonomics in 2011. He is a member of the Air and Space Academy (AAE), of which he was president in 1989 and secretary general from 1992 to 2004.
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