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Old 01-17-2013, 04:48 PM   #1  
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Default Captain Automation - Airline Pilots Obituary

(Note: I didn't know where to post this, so I have posted it here in the Majors Forum as it is directed primarily at Legacy carrier flight crews. It came to me by email with no link provided and I could not find an online source for it. I found it an eye-opening read, summing up so many things said by others here. Mods, if it belongs somewhere else, please move accordingly. Thanks! -UO )


Airline Pilots Obituary

Just over one hundred years ago two brothers flew the first manned flight in a powered, heavier than air, aircraft. From that day aviation advanced in leaps and bounds as the technology developed and newer, better aircraft were built. The first airline passengers were flown in open cockpit aircraft, exposed to the elements, with no protection against the weather and the cold. Later, although the pilot still flew from an open cockpit, the passengers (usually no more than one or two) rode in an enclosed cabin seated on wicker seats, still with no heating or cooling. Navigation aids were nonexistent and the planes were unable to fly above the weather. Flying was a unique and hazardous adventure that only a few brave souls even dared to try and was also extremely expensive. Pilots were considered heroes.

The transportation of people for profit by air intrigued a number of aviation enthusiasts and soon the first airlines were born and aircraft were designed specifically to transport large numbers of people for long distances. The planes, for the most part, had either two or three engines and both a Pilot and a Co-pilot, an enclosed cabin, wicker chairs with lots of leg room, and a stewardess to provide service in the cabin. Limited food and beverage service was introduced and the era of luxury travel had begun. Since there were no radios or navigational aids, no one flew at night and at dusk the planes landed and the passengers spent the night in hotels or rode a train until morning. Transportation by air was strictly daylight VFR. Pilots were considered daring.

All of this changed just prior to World War Two with the advent of the Boeing 247 and the Douglas DC-3. Commercial aviation became comfortable with padded, reclining seats, still with lots of leg room, hot food, and the ability to fly at night. Three abreast seating had not yet been invented. Travel by air had become practical although still pretty much only available for the well-to-do. Gentlemen travelled in suits and ladies all wore heels. Everyone dressed to fly. Pilots were considered dashing.

During and after World War two amazing advances were made in aviation technology and from this technology the super airliners were born. The Lockheed Constellation and the Douglas DC-7 ruled the sky. Pressurization and superchargers had arrived. Airplanes now had four engines, heating, cooling, pressurization, autopilots, superchargers, radar, and the ability and range to fly over and around the weather. To deal with the complexity of the new designs a third crewmember was introduced to the cockpit to oversee and operate the systems. The flight engineer had come into existence. In the event of an emergency the work load was distributed evenly among the crew for the safest and most practical resolution of the problem. One pilot flew the aircraft, one pilot communicated and navigated, and the Flight Engineer devoted all his effort to the emergency. To fly extended overwater legs an aircraft was required to have four engines and an extended crew. Safety of flight was of paramount importance. Pilots were viewed with awe.

All of this was overseen by an agency called The Civil Aeronautics Board. They determined the frequency of flights, the number of seats to be supplied to each city, which airlines would fly each route, how often they would fly, and when. They also required that service be provided to smaller cities and, if these routes were not profitable, subsidized the routes. Available seats were determined by the needs of the community. The airlines, like the railroads, were luxurious, totally reliable, always on time, and the envy of the civilized world! Lobster in First Class, steak in Tourist. America had the best airlines, the best railroads, and the best telephone service in the entire world! Pilots were considered to be skilled professionals.

Then one day, in its infinite wisdom, Congress discovered and implemented Deregulation. It was decided that this system that had worked so beautifully for so long was actually flawed and without merit. Airlines were deregulated, railroads were deregulated, and the telephone system was dismantled. The skies were now open to anyone who could afford an airplane and fares were as low as the airline wanted to make them. Everyone jumped into the lucrative routes, competition became ridiculous, and fares and service plummeted as weaker and underfunded airlines began to fail at an alarming rate. Suddenly large four engine aircraft were being flown with a crew of two pilots, the flight engineer having been replaced by Automation. It was determined that engines were now so totally reliable that routes over water, previously flown by four engine aircraft with a flight engineer, could now be safely flown by twin engine aircraft without a flight engineer. The buzz word was reliability, but the hidden agenda was Economy. Somewhere in the process legroom, service, and food disappeared!It was simply too expensive to fly a four engine aircraft with a flight engineer when a two engine aircraft with only two pilots could be substituted for far less money. An industry that had been founded on safety was now totally controlled by economics. Pilots had come to be considered expensive prima donnas.

Due to their inability to serve secondary markets profitably, the major airlines simply withdrew service and the markets were abandoned. This created a new entity called Commuter airlines. Inexperienced pilots in little airplanes began providing feeder service from small towns to major hubs. Suddenly, after all the years of progress and service, passengers were once again flying in twin engine aircraft with no service, pressurization, leg room, or cooling. Schedules were haphazard or nonexistent, airlines were consistently on the brink of bankruptcy, delays were horrendous, and seventy five years of progress had been eliminated by legislators who didn’t even know how to fly. Pilots were now considered an overpaid but necessary evil.

The final and most devastating step was to convince the flight crews that they were paid far too much money, that their working conditions were too liberal, their duty rigs were unrealistic, and that they could all be replaced by Automation. Salaries were cut, retirement destroyed, medical benefits reduced, duty rigs eliminated, and layovers cut to bare minimums. Senior pilots with years of experience retired in droves, military pilots remained in the military, the pilot pool dried up, and qualified people became more and more difficult to find. Pilots are no longer required to fly because automation has taken over the responsibility of flight as well as navigation. New pilots will never learn to fly, but they can automate the hell out of an airplane! EFIS, FMS, and Dispatch now have total control of the cockpit. FADEC has taken control of power away from the crew. The steep turn has become an unusual attitude! The airplane can now land itself. The aircraft is only really controlled by the pilot from the gate to liftoff and from rollout back to the gate. Everything in between is now done by Automation. In another ten years knowing how to fly will no longer be a requirement for a job as pilot and automation will wear four stripes. My question at this point is “Who the hell is going to fly the airplane when Captain Automation dies?” Perhaps by then there will be a First-Automation on board and perhaps even a Flight Automation. I hope so, because no one in the human crew, if there is one, will remember how to fly! Pilots are rapidly becoming unnecessary and obsolete!

RIP, Airline Pilots. You were killed by deregulation, economics, and automation. Unfortunately safety, skill, and Command responsibility died with you. It was a rough ride and you died early, but you will be remembered with love and pride by all of us who learned piloting from the old timers – the true aviation pioneers! So long Eastern, TWA, Pan Am, Northwest, Northeast, Capital, Braniff, Western, and National!

RIP!

Dick Borrelli
Editor
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Old 01-17-2013, 04:53 PM   #2  
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Not quite; a 27 year old captain can still go tell an early-out eligible gate agent to go pound sand and list the jumpseaters and not hear a thing about it from anyone.

Only one person can release the parking brake.

Just because a normal flight isn't daring and a crash is not an immediate threat* does not mean this occupation is not one with an extreme amount of responsibility and "boring" really just translates into "safe" in general.

*does not apply to flights on B-787
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Old 01-17-2013, 05:50 PM   #3  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by UnderOveur View Post
It came to me by email with no link provided and I could not find an online source for it.

RIP!

Dick Borrelli
Editor


Your Google-fu is weak grasshopper

Let me google that for you
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Old 01-18-2013, 06:26 AM   #4  
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Originally Posted by HSLD View Post
Your Google-fu is weak grasshopper
Ahhh! Tho thorry, thir! I wirrah chai hadah anext taim.


This is what I had tried to find previously...the link to the editorial above. It is a .pdf file, and the editorial is found on page 8 (for anyone interested).

http://www.silverfalcons.com/downloa...010_summer.pdf
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Old 01-18-2013, 07:02 AM   #5  
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Scroll further down to page #15.
The article 'SO YOU WANT TO BE AN AIRLINE PILOT' is wonderful
Much like other article, or even posts made on this forum, but does a good job of laying out the challenges of this profession.
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Old 09-11-2013, 10:54 AM   #6  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by UnderOveur View Post
Ahhh! Tho thorry, thir! I wirrah chai hadah anext taim.


This is what I had tried to find previously...the link to the editorial above. It is a .pdf file, and the editorial is found on page 8 (for anyone interested).

http://www.silverfalcons.com/downloa...010_summer.pdf
Holy cows, this is too funny! My roomate and I have been quoting this for a week now but cannot remember what movie this was from. I Googled it and it brought me to APC. Any ideas?
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Old 09-11-2013, 11:30 AM   #7  
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Holy cows, this is too funny! My roomate and I have been quoting this for a week now but cannot remember what movie this was from. I Googled it and it brought me to APC. Any ideas?
Dane Cook says a line like that in "Waiting."
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Old 09-11-2013, 02:48 PM   #8  
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Dane Cook says a line like that in "Waiting."
Good call! I remember that one, however it is not the one I was thinking of. Back to the Google machine!
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