Chapter

Airline Pilots' Perspective

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Abstract

This chapter discusses several important issues from the perspectives of airline pilots. From the perspective of the airline pilots who began their careers after the Second World War and ended them in the mid-1980s, many changes have taken place. Instead of manual flying tasks, automatic systems under the control of the pilot assist in routine tasks such as climbing, descending, setting engine power and controlling subsystems. Problems other than poorly heated or ventilated aircraft or the lack of navigational aids now face the airline pilot. Terrorism, deregulation, hijacking, bankruptcy, career stagnation, fuel prices, and training and air traffic control changes have significant impact on the perception, satisfaction, and security of the airline pilot's position. During the early 1970s, many experts were pointing to the lack of accidents caused by mechanical malfunctions. The focus changed to the human operator as the weakest part of the system. Government, unions, and managements have attempted to deal with the apparent inconsistencies of the human pilot. The character of the piloting role will never be the same as it was in the manual control days. Airline pilots must learn to be managers of automatic systems, while retaining their individual qualities as overall supervisors of flight path control and finding satisfaction in that role. Airline pilots must also learn to separate their role as pilots from their company's day-to-day operation. It remains to be seen whether matters of corporate mergers and takeovers have a serious effect on the safety of the airline industry.

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