This is another unintended consequence of designing airplanes that anyone can fly: anyone can take you up on the offer. Beyond the degradation of basic skills of people who may once have been competent pilots, the fourth-generation jets have enabled people who probably never had the skills to begin with and should not have been in the cockpit. As a result, the mental makeup of airline pilots has changed. On this there is nearly universal agreement—at Boeing and Airbus, and among accident investigators, regulators, flight-operations managers, instructors, and academics. A different crowd is flying now, and though excellent pilots still work the job, on average the knowledge base has become very thin.
It seems that we are locked into a spiral in which poor human performance begets automation, which worsens human performance, which begets increasing automation. The pattern is common to our time but is acute in aviation.”
Should Airplanes Be Flying Themselves?
A long but incredibly interesting and detailed analysis of the Air France 447 crash in 2009 which raises some really thought provocative and terrifying questions about what CRM and automation have done to the fundamental skills of pilots. Throw this in your Instapaper for when you have a free half hour.