Topic Author
Posts: 99
Joined: Sat Nov 13, 1999 6:16 am

Pilot Or AutoPilot! Here's One For Real Pilots!

Thu Jan 06, 2000 1:32 am

Since I was young I have always dreamed of flying, As I approach college, I have been getting worried that by the time I get into the field, the pilot will simply watch over the autopilot. In other words, I am afraid that technology and computers will take away the the physical flying. I am not naive; in the worst of weather, the category 3 autoland and other advanced features certainly aid in the safety aspect. (What aircraft execute autoland? What facilites are necessary?) But what about in visual conditions? When approaching an airport, slowly descending, making those turns to final...is this ALL autopilot? Does this differ whether in an older 737, compared with the newer 757, or the advanced 777 and airbus series? What about ATC...with the advent of position reporting GPS and collision avoidance systems, will it become obsolete? As someone entering commercial aviation toward the end of this century...I would be devasted to find out that my role of pilot has been reduced to inputting data into autopilot. WHat happens if I want to fly the plane?

THANKS IN ADVANCE FOR ANY INFO...THIS IS A SERIOUS AND IMPORTANT TOPIC FOR ME...you can also reply to my email... talk2jz@hotmil.com, or add me on icq
Posts: 1066
Joined: Fri Mar 16, 2007 1:29 pm

RE: Pilot Or AutoPilot! Here's One For Real Pilots!

Thu Jan 06, 2000 3:00 am

I think there will be available good hand flying jobs around the world for the next 50 years. However, once you tire of that kind of flying the digital djet will be available to you. I'm sure too that even the fully computerized self-ATC jets of the future will still need someone to blame, so there will be pilots on board!

Best Regards, and good luck! Get a good education!!

Posts: 8
Joined: Fri Jul 01, 2005 1:31 am


Thu Jan 06, 2000 4:01 am

Hi there,

I have to disappoint you because flying an airliner is already more of a managers function (in general). If you fly regionals with a maximum flight of 2.5 hours, you will be thankfull there is an autopilot available, believe me. During cruise you are pretty bored holding your steering wheel and correct the plane when needed. I think you also like to drink a cup of coffee and read a paper (believe every one does). However during descend and approach it's always nice to have the controls, and also very good for the experience. Many companies leave the choise up to you and your Captain. However, when you have to make a CAT 2 approach due to the weather, it must be on autopilot until you've reached the minima. Than you switch to manual. This because the ILS is getting very sensitive near the runway and it's very hard to fly the ILS very accurate at this point, which is needed when you fly that close to the ground with no visibility. After DA you will be on the ground after a couple of seconds. A little bit deflection could be in real a couple of meters, which is enough to land next to the runway, and your boss and passengers won't like that.

Not every airplane is capable of making autoland, and if the plane is capable it's still possible that the crew is not allowed to make one. I haven't made an autoland yet, but a lot of my buddies have, it should be very exciting.

I hope I haven't dissapoint you to much. Flying is still fun, and there could be one or more situations in your future carrier where the "real" pilot is needed, and not the Manager or Busdriver everyone talks about. Good luck.

Posts: 51
Joined: Mon Jun 01, 2015 3:31 am

Don't Worry...

Thu Jan 06, 2000 6:04 am


I think it's really a coincidence that I have long had the same wonders about the future of flying that you have. Although I'm not an airline pilot (I'm actually your age) I have had the opportunity to talk with many pilots who fly a variety of jets and turboprops and they all say the same thing.

Although the new technology has taken away many of the responsibilities of pilots of older generation jets (727's, DC-8's, etc.), the flying part is STILL there. I have yet to meet a pilot who rotates the aircraft, clicks on LNAV, VNAV, and the A/P and leaves it like this until landing and rollout. That's why they're pilots--they LOVE to fly and control the incredibly complex, beautiful piece of machinery that we call the airplane.

Of course, a variety of factors determine how much pilot manually flies the aircraft on a given flight: most important, the weather. When it's good, most of the climb and descent through landing is flown manually. The pilot flying (PF) advances the throttles, rotates the aircraft, engages the flight directors and follows the flight profile manually up to a good altitude using the settings in the FMC. Of course, this doesn't mean he has his hands on the controls this long. He would trim the controls, but would manually make the control inputs until he decides to click on the autopilot near cruising altitude. No one really wants to fly after this point; you'd just be holding the control yoke.

All pilots like to shoot landings, especially visual approaches. It's the most exciting part of any flight. Unless the conditions are IFR or the pilots are really tired, they will perform the approach and landings themselves. THAT"S WHY THEY"RE PILOTS!

I was on a Beech King Air yesterday, and I got to mess around with the controls. But just holding the yoke isn't much fun. Even the pilot of this plane used the autopilot in the cruise, but made a PERFECT landing manually.

So don't worry. There are probably some deadbeat pilots out there who like to push the buttons more than "drive" the airplane. But the majority became pilots for a reason--they had the same dreams that you and I have and finally realized them in a big Boeing or Airbus. Not even the most complex, capable computer can take away the magic of flying.

Give me a mile of road I can take you a mile, give me a mile of runway and I can show you the world. :airplane:
Posts: 8
Joined: Fri Jul 01, 2005 1:31 am

RE: Don't Worry...

Thu Jan 06, 2000 8:43 am

Hi Dixie,

First of all, I do not disagree with Delta 727, but there is one thing. Of course every pilot would like to do as many flying himself. Even flying "raw data". But there are a lot of companies (in Europe) where there is policy to fly as soon as possible on AP. Of course there's a difference between US and Europe concerning the weather. A friend of mine flew commercial in Florida. Of the 500h he flew, only a couple of hours were IMC. He only made a couple of approaches to the minima. In Europe, it's the otherway around. Also, when you are a pilot on a big jet, and you've just flown for 8 hours, I can imagin it's probably saver to keep the AP flying as long as possible. I haven't flown for that long yet f, but that's what I'm thinking. That's why I'm (at the moment) a "regional" pilot by hart, because you get the chance to make relatively much T/O and landings and so do as much as possible manually. It's a good practice. Good bye

RE: Pilot Or AutoPilot! Here's One For Real Pilots!

Thu Jan 06, 2000 10:34 am


Its an interesting question no doubt, and one I have often thought about myself as I too enter college, but there are broader implications here.

Who will need doctors when genetic fixes revolutionize the world of surgery and robots operate on people? Its kind of the same similar spooky concept wouldn't you agree?

I envision a society 50 years from now where they only career left is lawyer and bean-counter.

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