December 2016 Issue

Cloak Of Invincibility

All the cockpit gadgets and avionics equipment in the world won’t help us unless we turn them on.

There’s no question that increased automation capabilities in the typical general aviation cockpit over the last, say, 20 years has improved pilots’ lives. The usual cautions about possible effects resulting from over-reliance on all the magic in our panels still apply, however, and not just because of inevitable programming or mode-select errors. As demonstrated by accidents like Air France Flight 447 and Colgan Air Flight 3407, when the autopilot kicks off is not a good time to be disconnected from the airplane’s feedback loop.

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