...And Making Good Planes, Much Better

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So, what about the often said (and written) opinion that TAAs lead to cockiness, complacency and poor judgment in the cockpit? The study recommends that TAA pilots be schooled on the limitations of the equipment ... and themselves. It further recommends that training be broken down into the "physical airplane" (basic stick-and-rudder skills), the "mental airplane" (the coordinated use of knobs, switches and screens) and risk assessment and management (decision-making). "TAA training should make it clear that TAA systems do not replace the entire IFR system and are not substitutes for good basic airmanship skills and good aviation judgment," it reads. And the FAA suggests the glass panels could be even better. (Click here for a copy of the report.) The study says the planes should be equipped with "hazard displays" that automatically warn of weather and terrain hazards. The FAA would have to provide the graphics and the manufacturers the equipment to receive them. The study also recommends the addition of a density altitude function that warns the pilot if the intended runway is too short. And, to combat one of the most common pilot error sources of death and destruction, the study recommends an insufficient-fuel warning system be developed that calculates the effects of headwinds and route changes and lets the pilot know if it's time to stop for gas. The study goes on to say that if pilots want to use the TAA for "GA scheduled" operations, where the pilot and/or passengers are relying on the flight to get them to their destination on time, "both pilot and aircraft must be IFR capable."