It’s Not Just the Airplane and the Operator…

There’s never been more focus on cockpit automation and those who rely on it than there has been over the past couple of years. At Convergent Performance we have the privilege to work with organizations and crews from diverse backgrounds, and all of them operating fleets whose special applications and missions are equally diverse. From civil and military rotary-wing operations, to global airlines and specialized military units, we have been able to establish a clearer and more disciplined relationship between the human operator and the equipment. Matching the reliability and capability of the machine with increased knowledge and understanding of the “wetware” has been our goal from the beginning.

Yet an increasingly complex and modernizing variable in the context of local, regional, and global air operations has captured our attention in recent months, and we feel compelled to bring emphasis to this seemingly transparent factor in the outcome of aviation operations across the world. If you follow the “buzz” across all aspects of our industry, you have been exposed to a variety of terms that increasingly form a new lexicon describing airspace and operations in it. This lexicon includes new words like “NextGen”, “ReCat”, PBN, FANS, CPDLC, Enhanced Vision, to name just a few.

In Automation Airmanship we advocate that every crewmember operating any type of modern aircraft with any level of advanced cockpit technology view planning and briefing (the first two principles of Automation Airmanship) at least in part through the lens of the technology involved in the proposed operation. We would like to emphasize that this includes the technology required to operate in increasingly complex airspace – knowing that you may be expected to conduct an RNAV/GPS, RNAV/PBN, or other similar-type approach should introduce specific planning and briefing topics for the crew to cover in detail. Likewise, operating to a destination airport that has implemented NextGen/ReCat wake turbulence separation standards ought to encourage the formulation of cockpit and crewmember strategies for operating the aircraft safely in that environment – including the potential for a late go-around due to the runway being occupied by previous landing traffic, etc.

You see, it’s not just the aircraft, but it’s also the airspace. Viewing contemporary flight operations through the lens of the automation and the technology in use both in the cockpit and on the ground will make you and your crew better prepared in the event of possible contingencies.

Until our next report, fly safe and fly first.

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