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Home > Air Safety > The future of Air Safety
The future of Air Safety
Aviation - Air Safety
Tuesday, 08 January 2008 19:03

Airplanes are mechanically very reliable today.  Human errors are the areas where air safety can be further improved.  A main contributor to many air accidents are due to poor situational awareness, an aviator jargon meaning that the pilot is unaware of his surrounding.

I remember a Flight Instructor once commented about a trainee pilot.  “As soon as he switched on the engine starter, his brain switched off!”  The trainee pilot just could not cope with more than two events at any one time. He had suffered an overload!  This happened when the Instructor deliberately induced additional workload.  Unlike a driving a car, a flight is always in a three-dimensional motion.   A pilot will often have good situational awareness but heavy workload can very easily dilute it, leading to accidents.

Manufactures of airplanes are now studying new technologies to enhance situational awareness.  One innovation is the ‘vertical situation display’ that gives pilots a picture of his descent profile and surrounding terrain.

Another innovation is a display that enable the pilots to see all ground traffic as it taxi to the gate so as to avoid ground accidents.  Then there is the ‘synthetic vision’ that would give pilots of his surroundings to improve his situational awareness.  This would enable him to have a day-like visual flight condition even in very poor visibility conditions.

Finally, airplane manufacturers are working on a diagnostic system that would ‘predict’ developing problems and gives early warning of possible component failures.   These warnings enable the components to be replaced before they fail – thus further enhancing flight safety in the future.

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