1989: Cockpit Automation

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Ignore the date and change the airplane names and you might think David Hughes’ cover story on Automated Cockpits was written yesterday. It wasn’t. Aviation Week & Space Technology published the feature package on August 7, 1989.
 
When it comes to automation in the cockpit, the computers and displays may have changed drastically in the 24 years since Hughes wrote those stories, but the human condition largely has not. Pilots continue to have problems with mode confusion and the amount of time they get to handle the flight controls rather than the automation. The final report of the July crash of an Asiana Airlines 777-200ER in San Francisco will surely touch on automation issues as the pilots flew too slow and too low with a perfectly good aircraft in fine weather, according to the preliminary evidence. Then as now, there was wide acceptance that automation has made flying safer, but the optimum mix of man-machine control had not been found, and it still has not. In the future, it is clear that automation will take on additional roles as 4-d navigation and digital communications become the new norm for next-generation air transportation, ensuring that Aviation Week & Space Technology will be continuing its coverage of the trials and tribulations of “Automated Cockpits” for at least the next 24 years.

Read Glass Cockpit Study Reveals Human Factor Problems from Aviation Week & Space Technology, August 7, 1989.

► Aviation Week is approaching its 100th anniversary in 2016. In a series of blogs, our editors highlight editorial content from the magazine's long and rich history, including viewpoints from the industry's most iconic names and stories that have helped change the shape of the industry.

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Aviation Week & Space Technology marked its centennial in 2016. Here, we highlight editorial content from the magazine's long and rich history.

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