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Portal:Automation and Safety

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The Automation and Safety Forum

On 2/3 June 2015 a Safety Forum focused on the single issue of Automation and Safety was held at Eurocontrol in Brussels.

The event was co-hosted by Flight Safety Foundation, EUROCONTROL, and European Regions Airline Association.

The Forum results were summarised in a series of findings and conclusions, grouped according to their predominant relevance to flight operations or ATM. The Forum agreed on 19 flight operations findings and conclusions, 24 ATM findings and 19 ATM conclusions.

Key findings and conclusions

Key findings and conclusions from the Forum included:

  • Pilots must be competent and confident in the management of the operational safety of their aeroplane throughout the various levels and combinations of availability of automated systems during both automation-assisted and manual flight path management.
  • Advanced technology designed to reduce workload and improve situation awareness has created new challenges, notably complacency, automation dependency and lack of understanding.
  • Expertise in the use of automated systems requires practicing ‘soft’ skills like task/workload management, situation awareness, problem solving and decision making.
  • Experience measured in flying hours does not equal expertise and it is believed that the nature of long haul flying and the reserve system at many airlines reduces pilots' exposure to flight path management in general and manual flying in particular.
  • Systems knowledge and procedures can be trained relatively inexpensively by effective use of Computer Based Training (CBT) and maximising the use of CBT and Fixed Based Simulator (FBS) for learning so that more Full Flight Simulator (FFS) time can be used for manual flight operations may lead to improved performance and reduced cost.
  • Many opportunities for 'quick wins' in the enhancement of pilot competency are not accessible to small operators because of either or both their scale and their fluctuating and marginal financial state.
  • The potential benefits of Automation in ATM are many and can include: a) increased safety, b) increased consistency and reliability of service, c) increased interconnectivity between sectors, units, service providers, controllers / pilots, d) increased resilience of operation, e) reduced environmental impact and f) reduced cost.
  • There are a number of potential pitfalls associated with automation in ATM that need careful consideration to ensure that it is implemented and used safely: a) system considerations, b) the role of the Controller and Engineer, c) design, d) in-service operations, e) learning, f) safety accountability / safety assurance and g) degradation / fallbacks / contingency.
  • There is room for improvement in the way the automated systems’ aspects of safety events are captured at all levels of occurrence severity.

View the full report with all findings and conclusions.

Automation and Safety Posters

The following posters were produced to support the Safety Forum:


Predicting Multifactor Unknowns in Flight Preserving Manual Skills in an Automated Environment Predictive Mishap Recognition using the Metrics of Unusuality
The Right Automation in the Right Context A rapid decision aid for diversion safety assessment for safer and more efficient approach and landing operations Two ends of pilot training - reconciling automation and basic flying skills


Automation and Safety Resources on SKYbrary

Further Reading