Flight skills, automation management both important for today’s pilots

A student pilot and instructor on a flight in Purdue University's Airbus A320 simulator (Purdue University photo/Brian Powell)

Today’s pilots need traditional flight skills as well as the ability to manage automated flight systems, according to Mike Suckow, associate professor of practice in Purdue Polytechnic’s School of Aviation and Transportation Technology.

Suckow was recently visited by David Shaper, a transportation and infrastructure reporter for National Public Radio (NPR), to discuss aviation technology and automation in the cockpit. They met at the Airbus A320 cockpit simulator at the Purdue University Airport.

“It’s a digital airplane. How you interface with it, how you communicate with it and how you change controls are all a little bit different. And in that regard, the younger generation has an advantage,” said Suckow. “The students today that have been raised with the iPads and touch screens and automation are very fluent in transitioning into this airplane.”

But Suckow says students don't always understand the why of aeronautics and avionics, so training has to better incorporate the wisdom of previous generations with the technology of today.

Read or listen to the full NPR story via WBAA News.

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