Interesting read on the limits and human factors complicating flight automation.  I contend that all issues are solved with better sensors & processing ability/reliability.

From Things With Wings:

"As far back as 1980, renowned aviation human factors guru Earl Wiener (pictured sitting in the captain’s seat of the a Northwest Airlines Boeing 757 circa 1992) was asking the question on everyone’s mind after the tragic crash of Asiana Flight 214 in San Francisco earlier this month – Has automation gone too far?

Had he been around and of sound mind, Wiener would surely have weighed in.

However he passed away June 14 at the age of 80, the victim of a long bout with Parkinson’s disease. 

Along with his family, books and scholarly papers and a new generation of human factors professionals, Wiener left us with Wiener's Laws, 15 jewels of wisdom that will keep giving for decades to come because human nature, hence human error, is not changing all that rapidly. 

The laws were sent to me by former Wiener student and co-worker Asaf Degani, Ph.D., now a technical fellow at General Motors. “Some are funny and some are dead serious,” says Degani. 

I have no explanation of why Laws 1-16 are "intentionally left blank"...

Which one is your favorite? 

WIENER’S LAWS

(Note: Nos. 1-16 intentionally left blank)

17. Every device creates its own opportunity for human error.

18. Exotic devices create exotic problems.

19. Digital devices tune out small errors while creating opportunities for large errors.

20. Complacency? Don’t worry about it.

21. In aviation, there is no problem so great or so complex that it cannot be blamed on the pilot.

22. There is no simple solution out there waiting to be discovered, so don’t waste your time searching for it.

23. Invention is the mother of necessity.

24. If at first you don’t succeed… try a new system or a different approach.

25. Some problems have no solution. If you encounter one of these, you can always convene a committee to revise some checklist.

26. In God we trust. Everything else must be brought into your scan.

27. It takes an airplane to bring out the worst in a pilot.

28. Any pilot who can be replaced by a computer should be.

29. Whenever you solve a problem you usually create one. You can only hope that the one you created is less critical than the one you eliminated.

30. You can never be too rich or too thin (Duchess of Windsor) or too careful what you put into a digital flight guidance system (Wiener).

31. Today’s nifty, voluntary system is tomorrow’s F.A.R.

...

Wiener in the early 1980s began researching what happens when humans and computers attempt to coexist on a flight deck. Though his “day job” was professor of management science at the University of Miami, Wiener is widely known for embedding in jump seats of his airline pilot subjects as part of research projects funded by the NASA Ames Research Center. Wiener would continue performing NASA human factors works for more than two decades. “Earl was an ongoing grantee,” says a NASA co-worker from that time. “He would publish a paper and 25 people would write their masters’ theses or doctoral dissertations on the topic.

In a 1980 paper he co-wrote with NASA’s Renwick Curry, “Flight-deck automation: promises and problems”, Wiener wrote, “It is highly questionable whether total system safety is always enhanced by allocating functions to automatic devices rather than human operators, and there is some reason to believe that flight-deck automation may have already passed its optimum point.” Compilations of scholarly papers by Wiener and his colleagues resulted in two key human factors books, one of which – Human Factors in Aviation – is still in publication today, albeit as a new edition with new editors.""

Views: 1275


Moderator
Comment by Gary Mortimer on July 25, 2013 at 4:24pm

Human factors as a subject during UA training will become more important. 

Comment by Shannon Morrisey on July 25, 2013 at 5:28pm

I always see the headline "Drone crash" and yell at the screen "NOOOOO - its an Operator crash!"


T3
Comment by Ted Van Slyck on July 25, 2013 at 7:42pm

 I contend that all issues are solved with better sensors & processing ability/reliability.

Great equipment helps but creates a lack of proficiency in pilots when it comes time to hand fly. It is imperative that a pilot recognize this and always keep hand flying skills proficient. Additionally, sometimes the gee-whiz stuff is just a big distraction when what you really need to do is look out the window and fly the plane... Automation is great, but it is a major human factor discussion on how to safely integrate it into the cockpit. 

20. Complacency? Don’t worry about it.

love it. 

Comment by Don Ingram on July 25, 2013 at 7:52pm

Or as seen recently regarding Airbus automation...

" Should only be two beings in a cockpit - A pilot and a dog. The pilot's job is to feed the dog and the dog's job is to bite the pilot if he attempts to touch the controls." ;-)

Comment by Antonie Kruger on July 25, 2013 at 11:27pm

Good read, thanks for sharing.


Moderator
Comment by Gary Mortimer on July 26, 2013 at 1:07am

This is perhaps the human factors poster boy incident for UA http://web.mit.edu/aeroastro/labs/halab/papers/Carrigan_AUVSI.pdf

Comment by Rob_Lefebvre on July 26, 2013 at 5:49am

Great equipment helps but creates a lack of proficiency in pilots when it comes time to hand fly. It is imperative that a pilot recognize this and always keep hand flying skills proficient. Additionally, sometimes the gee-whiz stuff is just a big distraction when what you really need to do is look out the window and fly the plane... Automation is great, but it is a major human factor discussion on how to safely integrate it into the cockpit. 

I think the idea is to get to the point where there's absolutely no need for hand flying, or even a pilot in the cockpit.

Comment by Rob_Lefebvre on July 26, 2013 at 5:50am

This is perhaps the human factors poster boy incident for UA http://web.mit.edu/aeroastro/labs/halab/papers/Carrigan_AUVSI.pdf

Is there anything in there about the ridiculousness of combining a 2 position switch and a 3 position switch to choose from 6 flight conditions? :p

Comment by Phill Scott on July 26, 2013 at 6:07am

Gary - thanks for posting that up.  Very interesting read.  Goes to show that humans are still the weakest link - whether it's the one at the control or the one designing the system.  The mind boggles at the Iridium system mistake.

Comment by Euan Ramsay on July 26, 2013 at 6:09am

Lol - very droll R_Lefebvre...

With one revision:

...ridiculousness of combining a sequential 2 position switch and a 3 position switch to choose from 6 flight conditions?

 

Anyone who has set RTL before Auto will know what I mean.

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