How Has Technology Changed Piloting?
February 5, 2020
The relationship between work and technology has existed for as long as human society, from the invention of wheel to the rise of artificial intelligence (AI). Technology has been used to make work faster, more efficient, and more productive, and nowhere is that more true than in the aviation industry. Aviation is a line of work that requires a deeper level of interaction between human and machine— whether it’s the design and engineering of an aircraft, or the coordination between pilot and air traffic controller. Modern society has come a long way from the Wright brothers’ 59-second flight in 1903. Now, more than ever, technology has become part and parcel of the aviation experience. Here’s what working as a pilot today is like.
The emergence of AI has had far-reaching impacts on a variety of fields, and aviation is no different. Airplanes are complex machines that are affected by a variety of factors like weather, cargo load, aerodynamics, and human management. The aviation industry makes use of AI to minimize error and maximize efficiency in aircraft. Systems such as the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) use sensor data to automate the management of the aircraft due to flight conditions, making work easier for pilots. While the system does have its downsides and detractors, further improvements along this line are sure to be implemented on a larger scale in the future.
Proper communication skills are an essential aspect of piloting, as planes need constant coordination with air traffic controllers in order to ensure safe landing and take off. No one can fly or land a plane on their own, and better communication means safer aviation. Aviation has a specific international radio language that can often be hard to pick up, and in many cases lack of fluency in this language can spell disaster. Luckily, Purdue University alumni have developed an app called PlaneEnglish, an aviation radio simulator that allows new pilots to acquire communication proficiency in a simulated environment. Users are graded on their use of aviation English phraseology, speech rate, and other factors, allowing them to test their proficiency and make improvements.
One of the biggest hurdles to piloting is the expense of training, which can incur large costs in both money and time. Getting certified as a pilot can be an intensive process, and part of the journey is learning how to navigate and operate a constantly changing array of technology. With a pilot shortage looming on the horizon, it’s more imperative than ever that aviation authorities make adjustments to training programs without compromising standards and safety. According to Aviation JobNet, Microsoft recently released a newer version of their flight simulator. Microsoft has played a part in aviation since the early 1980s, when they first released their introductory home flight simulator. Since then, the company has been steadily updating the software, with the current iteration able to recreate 3D depictions of trees, buildings, topography, and water surfaces. Flight simulators are an essential part of pilot training, and increased detail and realism in simulators will help pilots react more quickly and accurately to the real thing.