Will the Cockpit of the Future Have Less Pilot Interaction?

hugokernal, flickr

Airbus is working to expand cockpit automation including allowing commercial passenger planes to automatically change altitude during normal cruises. In busy airspace, this would mean the planes trigger fewer air-collision warning alarms that require pilot input.

Currently, a pilot might be faced with multiple false alarms with their on board Traffic alert and Collision Avoidance System (TCAS). Having to review each warning or taking proper action on these warnings adds distraction and unneeded work for pilots, Airbus said.

The airplane manufacturer has created a new system that would automatically determine if action should be taken to avoid another aircraft and change altitude accordingly. The aircraft would inform pilots of the change, take over the controls and complete a smooth transition.

This new system will allow aircraft to fly with only 1,000 feet separating them. Only one of two airplanes on a potential collision course would have to have the new system installed for it to work. If needed, pilots have the ability to turn off the new system and fly manually.

Earlier automation by Airbus in 2006 caused some pilot groups to worry about not having as much control of their aircraft. Senior Airbus test pilot Claude Lelaie told the Wall Street Journal that with this new technology, "there has been no major opposition" and the design changes have been "well received" by the industry.

"We have gotten significant feedback from flight crews that eliminating the 'false' TCAS illuminations would be a welcome step in reducing distractions and workload in the cockpit," Clay McConnell with Airbus told AOL Travel News.

Airbus is hoping to update the software and the various on board computers over the next few years for new aircraft. They also hope that airlines will opt to retrofit their fleets.

At this time, Boeing is aware of the changes that Airbus is implementing, but has told AOL Travel News that they do not have anything similar currently in progress.

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