Autopilot: too much of a good thing? - KFDA - NewsChannel 10 / Amarillo News, Weather, Sports

Autopilot: too much of a good thing?

Overuse of autopilot may have played a large role in one of the worst airline disasters in recent years.

Experts say the co-pilots on Air France 447 were too dependent on the plane's autopilot system, which is in fact designed to be "pilot-proof."

They say because planes like Airbus' A330 are so heavily auto-pilot controlled, real pilots aren't being properly trained to deal like situations such as the high-altitude stall that occurred on Flight 447, resulting in the deaths of 228 passengers and crew members.

Pilots now are only spending three minutes of an average flight actually flying the plane, and that is only the 90 seconds at takeoff and 90 at landing.

Some experts are so worried about the consequences of this new version of flying where pilots spend so little time actually operating the machine, they are actively speaking out against it.

Bill Voss, chief of the Flight Safety Foundation, says, "We are moving toward automated operations where the pilot isn't even permitted to fly. That means the first time in your career you will ever feel what an aircraft feels like at 35,000 feet is when it's handed to you broken."

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