Technology: Master or Slave?

I highly recommend a book on technology called “The Axemaker’s Gift” by Robert Ornstein and James Burke. The takeaway from this book is that we, as a culture, do not evaluate and choose our new technology, it washes over us and envelops us with little conscious choice and drives our future. If something is new and even marginally helpful we as a culture seem to embrace it without question or direction. This may be an evolutionary adaptation but in terms of our rapidly developing techno-culture it may not be at all wise or advisable.

Our focus here is aviation and certainly you know the pace of change has been accelerating rapidly in our field with all the new toys we can buy and install. I would argue some careful thought is required to be safe here; it is critically important to thoughtfully evaluate and choose your tools, learn them well, and deploy them intelligently or you will not be the master, you might be their slave. Increasingly pilots cannot (or do not) perform the basic flying functions of handling the aircraft accurately either because of the distraction from their technology or due to lack of recent focus and practice! Yes that new touch screen GPS will navigate you around the storms and find Nashville but it will not negotiate the speed and pattern on descent and land your plane! If it goes “Tango Uniform” you need to fall back to a reliable (perhaps manual) standby system. My training at Cirrus as a CSIP emphatically de-emphasized the shiny panel and focused us on teaching basic skills! Here are a few interesting articles and videos: Recent NTSB study on automation