I read today an interesting article in Flight International regarding the DHL A300 that was hit by a missile. From the article, it is evident that while the damage by the missle covered a relatively small area of the wing, the crew just narrowly escaped death by teamwork-based, highly skilled airmanship, and the experienced flight engineer's actions seem to have accounted for a good share of the successful landing. This leads me to open up an old debate - is the demise of Flight Engineers a bad thing? Computers can do a lot, but would it be better if modern all-glass cockpits incorporated a human flight engineer anyway? For example, one fuel tank was blown apart and another leaking, and the FE
was very careful with regulating the bleed of the remaining fuel. I can't see how a pre-programmed computer could make similar decisions in an emergency like this. This is just one example of how the crew worked together to land a critically imperilled plane. Could safety be a compelling factor for the return of FEs, especially in the huge A380?