I’ve been studying the dynamic of the human-machine interface since 2001, the year I transitioned to my first fully integrated, glass-cockpit airplane. Even then there was a lot of published research, yet nowhere could I find a thought-through, uniform approach that would explain most of the capabilities and challenges of the modern flight deck and an organized approach to developing the kind of performance the most experienced pilots around me were demonstrating already.
For almost 10 years, my “Handbook for Glass Cockpit Airmanship” was a row of loose-leaf binders containing hundreds of research papers from some of the finest human factors and engineering organizations in the world.
Forced to distill the knowledge and expertise of a rapidly expanding field of human performance, I managed (with some help) to find a way to organize the vast amounts of research, results of our field work and observed “industry best practices” into a group of principles that aviators of every stripe could access and identify with. We eventually turned this into our first book, “Automation Airmanship: Nine Principles for Operating Glass Cockpit Aircraft” (McGraw-Hill Professional, 2013).
I have told many pilots and crew that we didn’t set out to write a book. All we really wanted to do was help others succeed faster. But in the end, we wrote the book that in the beginning we could not find.
In the first chapter of my friend and colleague’s seminal book on modern aviation human factors, “Redefining Airmanship,” Tony Kern writes:
“Expert flyers are said to have good hands, judgment, discipline, common sense, and situational awareness, but no one seems to agree with an all-encompassing picture of superior airmanship. Perhaps the inability to put our finger on a precise definition of airmanship illustrates a problem that goes beyond mere semantics. How can we train to become what we cannot define and might not fully understand?”
In the 25…
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