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Need I say Moores

When is flying an aircraft like e-mailing?

When the aircraft is on autopilot, apparently. “Saying an aircraft flies itself is a bit like saying your computer sends emails,” British Airline Pilots’ Association (BALPA) flight safety specialist Steve Landells said, in a briefing aimed at nervous fliers.

“Yes, the email does go from your computer, but you have to turn it on, you have to select the correct program, decide who to send the email to and ultimately you have responsibility for what gets written and sent. Autoflight systems are just a whole bunch of computers that need to be loaded, monitored and fixed when they fail,” he continued.

Personally, I quite like the parallel. It a nice, accessible way of explaining that just because an aircraft is automated, it doesn’t mean it flies itself.

Landells goes on to explain that pilots come into their own by overseeing the systems and stepping in when they fail. But then I feel the parallel goes a little too far, considering the target audience.

“‘Crashing’ is a term often associated with both computers and aircraft; one is an inconvenience and the other is avoided every day by highly-skilled professional pilots.”

This makes it sounds as though aircraft are on the brink of crashing all the time – not exactly what a nervous flier wants to hear.

Victoria Moores victoria.moores@penton.com

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