777x,uncomanded nose up

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Dan Thomas

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This is the classic result of adding complexity. When one complicates things, he adds many possibilities for unintended consequences, many more failure points, many more openings for maintenance errors, maybe more ways for a pilot to mis-program stuff. Not to mention the increased costs.

It's all in the name of safety, of course. But how is it making it safer? Is this stuff intended to make the pilots' work easier? Or has pilot training been dumbed down so much that they need a bunch of AI to keep the pilots out of trouble? Some of the crashes in the last decade or so seem to indicate some serious shortcomings in training or understanding, and an over-reliance on the machines to do the thinking. I think I know what would have happened if Sully had let the autopilot figure out what to do with his airplane when geese took out both engines.

This is the reason I dismiss fly-by-wire for homebuilts. Or hydraulic controls. Or various devices or systems to make them stall/spin proof. There is no mechanical substitute for good training. Sure, glass panels are nice, but good training is still necessary for when the electrons stop flowing. If you drone along without having a map handy and knowing exactly where you are, you could be in trouble shortly after the alternator fails. Complacency is one of the Dirty Dozen safety factors.
 

Victor Bravo

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If I offer to pay 25 or 30% more for the ticket, can I specify that I want to take the trip on a 727... with Rockiedog flying it? Pretty sure I'll get the the destination in one piece, without worrying about a hacker in India turning off the flight controls, or being taken off the airplane in leg irons because I had the gall to disagree with the cabin crew about the $%(!* peanuts.

Come to think of it, a 172 can get me where I want to go with a whole lot less aggravation, and free refills on the peanuts.
 
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Bille Floyd

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...

This is the reason I dismiss fly-by-wire for homebuilts. Or hydraulic controls. Or various devices or systems to make them stall/spin proof. There is no mechanical substitute for good training.
...
I was flying with Dave Kilborn, in his VariEze one day, and he asked
me to take the stick ; before grabbing it i asked him to do a spin entry
and exit, so i'd know what to expect, ( it entered spin, kinda easy).

Fast forward two years :

We were over Soboba Ca, and Dave cut power in his VariEze ; told
me to , (Hook one) and thermal up to Mt San Jacinto . He had
cut the Leading edge Cuff's off the planes wings, and had added
the Mod for , (vortilons) :

Those vortilons made the airplane quite resistant to spinning ; and
unlike the Stock Leading edge Cuff's, they worked with near No drag. I
was the one who painted the wings , after the job of installing the vortilons
was done. He test flew the devises first, then we went up for a flight
and said i wasn't gonna believe how well those devises worked ; he
tried to force a spin, but it would come out immediately, holding it In
it then would try to stall again, and come out again, and never did go into
Full entry . They worked Great ; and i wasn't even the least little bit worried
about a spin, by going too slow in a thermal ; i already knew about
the warning i'd get !!!

Dave was the guy who financed my trip to Telluride, Co, for the
world Hang gliding ACRO championships in the early 80's , the
year i got 4'th. I really miss that guy ; he died several years ago. :(

Bille
 

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PMD

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FREE Peanuts??????? What FBO services your buck72 turnarounds??? I'll be their loyal customer.

This is a long-standing discussion I have had for decades with a good friend of mine - who both owns a flight school and is Canada's highest time pilot - ever. In the earlier days of the electronic panel revolution, I encouraged him to add something to the fleet that would provide for the digital experience or risk being left out of some contracts. He insisted that the whole purpose of ab initio training was to teach people to fly the damned airplane, I agreed with him, but always had to point out the whole purpose of business was to stay in business and make some money. To him, his business was far more of a mission than a cash cow.

Now, scale that up to manufacturing: Companies that make big airplanes no longer are owned and run by the guy (or gal...can't forget Moya nor Olive-Anne) who's name is on the door. Hedge funds, insurance funds, banksters, Wall street wizkids, etc. are the products of a system that believes "greed is good" and the sole purpose of a business is to provide stockholders for them to dilute, shares for them to trade (and manipulate) and M&A deals for them to make. Product, markets and customers are a necessary evil to let them play at THEIR game. Aviation (genav nor airline transport) is no different. Bill Lear took on the 23 project in Switzerland because it was killing its test pilots! Now, add to this: think about the DC3 - there was what, 10,000 built? Flown almost exclusively without autopilots. The golden years of North American aviation IMHO were 1948 -1978. We had a mix of entrepreneurs in a world where our competitors had been bombed to rubble, a need for all kinds of new products and on the aviation front, a huge block of people who started flying in some pretty big and/or fast equipment under war conditions. I think what killed that environment was the excessive growth of our over-matured economy where speculators took control of business instead of entrepreneurs, and worse yet Star Wars....when Ronny Raygunn shot down communism by simply being able to outspend and out-tech Russia (and by extension Red China). The shift in global economic development that followed meant that the world of big people haulers now had pilots in the cockpit who were the spoiled children of The Greatest Generation or were from formerly third world cultures in which you got those captain's bars based on WHO your Father was, not what he could teach you (about business, about aviation, about life). Put all of those things together and you get airplanes designed by committees ultimately run by speculators/financiers who answer to the LLL (Legal Liability Lottery) policed by massive government bureaucracies. The result is somewhat miss-guided idea that machines ultimately don't make mistakes and people do.

Now move this discussion into a group of people who believe so much in their independence and self-reliance that they will build...hell, even DESIGN and build their own airplanes. We are the ultimate missfits in a the world today. BTW: my flybuddy F104 jock/high time guy/flight school friend now sports one ICOM unit in the middle of a steam dial panels in Pa28s and 30.
 
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Vigilant1

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Or, maybe the 777X needs a tweak of the pitch control system.
 

TFF

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I think it’s more of a culture shock Boeing is trying to get use to that stuff is not going to get a pass for the next step. As for the actual hardware/ software, it wasn’t uncommanded. It wasn’t the command they expected, and to figure it out is a little harder than Basic on an Apple 11 +. A sensor saw something and the program did what it was programmed to do. Do you think bugs can still get under relay contacts?
 

Pops

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First-- Needles take less time to see their position than your brain takes to understand the number displayed on a glass panel. NASCAR racers don't use glass panels. The steam gauges are turned so when everything is normal while running 200+ mph side by side all the needles are pointing UP. You can check your gauges with our peripheral vision while still having your eyes outside. Aviation is going in the opposite direction with pilots spending more time looking at the pretty colored numbers and not looking outside.

Second--- As someone that has had a vacuum failure in hard IFR and having to shoot an ILS down to minimums on partial panel in a high wind, rain storm, your life depends on being current and proficient with excellent training. If not, only fly good VFR.

Third--- Things break, including auto-pilots.
 

undean

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I have previously had the opportunity to ask, one-on-one and in groups, those in regulation and Engineers who push the “automate everything” narrative what happens when their software kills 200+ people? Does the Engineer go to prison? The CEO? Or does it get blamed on the PIC even if it cannot be overridden or otherwise is dumped in their hands after the autopilot put them into an unrecoverable position?

I’ve never gotten an answer but more than a few have just walked away.

I have gotten answers from pilots though. One candid discussion was more or less, ‘…with automation I have to remember I’m no longer a pilot but a voting member on a panel...’ and, ‘… I’ll likely get the blame and the incident will be covered up. I just hope my private life insurance pays out because the companies won’t after my corpse has been dragged through the mud...’

I have read answers online about pilot workload, automation kills fewer, etc. but they conflate total deaths with deaths due solely to pilots or fail to realize that too little workload, too little training, too little actual flying is oft cited as reasons for errors (deadly or not). Hamstringing one side seems a disingenuous way to stack the deck.

It seems to me that software is seen as some sort of panacea or an easy fix to problems. Even the uninformed know it’s easier to change a piece of code than hardware. But that’s very, very, very rarely the problem and once the code has been “certified” good luck changing it. The planes we’re concerned with are not inherently unstable and my personal impression is that code, FBW, and other such systems are being used not to design better aircraft but to make up for shoddy and rushed design.
 

Vigilant1

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More extensive automation on the flight deck doesn't always lead to improved safety, and I'd be the first person to say that a plane should be capable of being "hand flown" under nearly any circumstance by a competent crew. Continuing realistic training (including emergency procedures, recognition of system errors, CRM, etc) is important, and some carriers do cut corners in this regard.

All that said, there's no doubt that commercial flight is getting increasingly safe. The major accident rate is about 1/2 of what it was just 10 years ago. Obviously, lots of factors are at work. If someone wants to claim the design of new aircraft or the build of new aircraft is worse than before, then presumably some other factor (improved crew proficiency, improved operational procedures, better maintenance, etc) is so amazingly effective that the safety record is getting better despite crummier airplanes. I don't see evidence of that.


Yearly hull loss rate per million flights
Yearly hull loss rate per million flights
 
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undean

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I've been in too many meetings where I've heard something along the lines of '...we can save X lb/drag/space if we do Y." to which the follow up is, '... what do we lose?' to which the answer is, '... Z margin/stall/spin/etc. ...' and the motion is almost invariably approved because "Controls can mitigate it". As if software and FBW can mitigate poor performance and a marginal envelope. If that isn't worse from a safety perspective I don't know what is. Then again, people tend to fear uncontrollable, unpredictable,and unknowable things. Not safe things. SIMO and MIMO are easy examples of the former three.

The newest most intrusive versions of FBW and such systems are not yet ever present in the fleet. I would argue the single most advantageous advances have been in materials, predictive failure analysis, and NDT/NDI.

Then again, if someone doesn't like generalized stories from the industry there are always Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics to make them feel better :)
 

tspear

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As airlines demand more and more efficiency from the planes; there is less "low hanging fruit" to reap.
What is left often either requires incredible precision, training and rigid adherence to a procedure by the crew, or some level of automation.
Considering how well humans follow specific routines, and how precise they are in the execution of a repetitive task precisely every time; do you wonder why the planes are getting more complicated?
 

PMD

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The biggest problem IMHO is that all of this automation takes the pilots out of the loop so often and so far, when they DO have to step in, they need to be extremely good to go from zero to hero in involvement with actually flying the airplane in an emergency. Now, referring to the recent 737x issues: the pilots who crashed the airplanes simply didn't HAVE the skills at all or ever, so they really should have been Airbus drivers, not Boeing-with-a-problem drivers. And, yes, I think moving the engines around to avoid using appropriate airframe with long enough gear legs was a marketing and management screw-up of considerable significance.

BTW: another HUGE part of the problem is the proliferation of control units that must communicate and co-ordinate (i.e. Systems Integration). All of this automation not only affects the pilots, but CAN indeed involve aircraft (or other vehicle) systems function in unpredicted and unforseen ways. Here is an IEEE article on the subject: https://spectrum.ieee.org/cars-that-...g-car.amp.html
 
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PMD

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What a co-incidence: the Canadian air force accident investigation into the Cyclone (Sikorski CH-148) crash last year off of Greece (that killed 6 members) they finally admitted that the struggle between the pilot and autopilot killed them due to a "software glitch". Today on national news.
 

dog

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What a co-incidence: the Canadian air force accident investigation into the Cyclone (Sikorski CH-148) crash last year off of Greece (that killed 6 members) they finally admitted that the struggle between the pilot and autopilot killed them due to a "software glitch". Today on national news.
I got drafted into driving for some event and
met a person who was employed writing software for miliary helicopters here in Canada,
and then as now,have wondered the life path that leads someone into becoming a vegan buddist nun who writes hellicopter software.
Didnt seem particularly bright either.
Almost no chance of a direct conection but still
many times I here about and meet the people involved in sofware its clear that it has been subcontracted out to people not realy looking for that work who said ,"uh ya Ill take your money".And more to the point those sub contracts are sub,sub,sub,contracts ,with bits and pieces written all over the place,no central
design,no possibility of complete testing,and a bit getts flipped and down she goes.
 

PMD

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Hey, that hits me right in my A320-rated heart!

Also you don’t want the dummies flying Airbuses either:
Not meant so much as a slight to Scairbus drivers in general, but worth realizing that the Euroweenies are much better at marketing to newly emerged economies and cultures than North America is. If you are going to put a pilot in there who qualified on privilege rather than merit, you want the a/c to do most of the thinking. This is the norm, not the exception:


Also worth remembering that famous demo flight crash at the introduction of the 300 series. This all comes back to my theme in this post - ESPECIALLY referring to the CH-138 where automators have decided in most cases that the automation is the ultimate authority over aircraft control, not the flesh-and-blood pilot.

My first decade was spent flying in the Northern bush, and the pilotage skill level overall was pretty high because these were mostly short flights into short strips and lakes or other off-airport operations, repeated many times a day in an era where you might only have Wx info once a week (and competitive pressure for commercial operators meant weight and balance was only a "suggestion". It is a bit of a parallel to wartime military aviation where you have to hand fly near limits of control and/or performance regularly. Now, unless the retired 380 fleet is going to be converted into borate bombers, there just aren't that many opportunities for cattle car drivers to GET that kind of experience in their native environment.
 
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