This is an excellent piece of journalism. There was a similar article a few years ago that I can’t now find, but this one is better.airplane

It’s about the doomed Air France Flight 447 and the tragic errors made by all its pilots, and about the risks of automation.

I’m not a pilot and I don’t think I could have done any better. I’ve only handled a plane in level flight and with someone watching my every move as I lightly banked left and right.

But you have to wonder what those guys were thinking. I’m as I noted not a pilot and therefore I only know two real things about flying. One is that if you don’t use your instruments in the clouds and at night, you are probably going to die as humans can’t really determine their orientation without external input (the horizon).

The other is that if you are not near the ground and are stalled, point the nose down.

It’s not clear to me even reading all the analysis why none of the three pilots ever thought to do that last bit, or at least why one of the senior pilots didn’t order it done and then enforce that command.

I don’t think most people realize it but we are already relying on computers, systems and robots too complex for anyone to understand. The article that I linked to really makes the benefits and the drawbacks – and there are plenty of both – clear.