Sunday, January 13, 2013

History of aviation and pilots;

Just over one hundred years ago two brothers flew the first manned
flight in a powered, heavier than air, aircraft. From then on
 aviation advanced fast, as technology developed and
 newer and better aircraft were built. The first airline passengers were flown in open cockpit aircraft, exposed to the elements, with no
 protection against the weather and the cold. Later, although the pilot
still flew from an open cockpit, the passengers (usually no more than
 one or two) rode in an enclosed cabin seated on wicker seats, still
 with no heating or cooling. Navigation aids were nonexistent and the
 planes were unable to fly above the weather. Flying was a unique and
 hazardous adventure that only a few brave souls even dared to try and
 was also extremely expensive. Pilots were considered heroes.

 The transportation of people for profit by air intrigued a number of
 aviation enthusiasts and soon the first airlines were born and
 aircraft were designed specifically to transport large numbers of
 people for long distances. The planes, for the most part, had either
 two or three engines and both a Pilot and a Co-pilot, an enclosed
 cabin, wicker chairs with lots of leg room, and a stewardess to
 provide service in the cabin. Limited food and beverage service was
 introduced and the era of luxury travel had begun. Since there were no
 radios or navigational aids, no one flew at night and at dusk the
 planes landed and the passengers spent the night in hotels or rode a
 train until morning. Transportation by air was strictly daylight VFR.
 Pilots were considered daring.

 All of this changed just prior to World War Two with the advent of the
 Boeing 247 and the Douglas DC-3. Commercial aviation became
 comfortable with padded, reclining seats, still with lots of leg room,
 hot food, and the ability to fly at night.Three abreast seating had
 not yet been invented. Travel by air had become practical although
 still pretty much only available for the well-to-do. Gentlemen
 travelled in suits and ladies all wore heels. Everyone dressed to fly.
 Pilots were considered dashing.

 During and after World War two amazing advances were made in aviation
 technology and from this technology the super airliners were born. The
 Lockheed Constellation and the Douglas DC-7 ruled the sky.
 Pressurization and superchargers had arrived. Airplanes now had four
 engines, heating, cooling, pressurization, autopilots, superchargers,
 radar, and the ability and range to fly over and around the weather.
 To deal with the complexity of the new designs a third crewmember was
 introduced to the cockpit to oversee and operate the systems. The
 flight engineer had come into existence. In the event of an emergency
 the work load was distributed evenly among the crew for the safest and
 most practical resolution of the problem. One pilot flew the aircraft,
 one pilot communicated and navigated, and the Flight Engineer devoted
 all his effort to the emergency. To fly extended overwater legs an
 aircraft was required to have four engines and an extended crew.
 Safety of flight was of paramount importance. Pilots were viewed with

 All of this was overseen by an agency called The Civil Aeronautics
 Board. They determined the frequency of flights, the number of seats
 to be supplied to each city, which airlines would fly each route, how
 often they would fly, and when. They also required that service be
 provided to smaller cities and, if these routes were not profitable,
 subsidized the routes.Available seats were determined by the needs of
 the community. The airlines, like the railroads, were luxurious,
 totally reliable, always on time, and the envy of the civilized world!
 Lobster in First Class, steak in Tourist. America had the best
 airlines, the best railroads, and the best telephone service in the
 entire world! Pilots were considered to be skilled professionals.

Then one day, in its infinite wisdom, Congress discovered and
> implemented Deregulation. It was decided that this system that had
> worked so beautifully for so long was actually flawed and without
> merit. Airlines were deregulated, railroads were deregulated, and the
> telephone system was dismantled. The skies were now open to anyone who
> could afford an airplane and fares were as low as the airline wanted
> to make them. Everyone jumped into the lucrative routes, competition
> became ridiculous, and fares and service plummeted as weaker and
> underfunded airlines began to fail at an alarming rate. Suddenly large
> four engine aircraft were being flown with a crew of two pilots, the
> flight engineer having been replaced byAutomation.

 It was determined
> that engines were now so totally reliable that routes over water,
> previously flown by four engine aircraft with a flight engineer, could
> now be safely flown by twin engine aircraft without a flight engineer.
> The buzz word was reliability, but the hidden agenda was Economy.
> Somewhere in the process legroom, service, and food disappeared!  It
> was simply too expensive to fly a four engine aircraft with a flight
> engineer when a two engine aircraft with only two pilots could be
> substituted for far less money. An industry that had been founded on
> safety was now totally controlled by economics. Pilots were considered
> to be expensive prima donnas

Due to their inability to serve secondary markets profitably, the
 major airlines simply withdrew service and the markets were abandoned.
 This created a new entity called Commuter airlines. Inexperienced
 pilots in little airplanes began providing feeder service from small
 towns to major hubs. Suddenly, after all the years of progress and
service, passengers were once again flying in twin engine aircraft
with no service, pressurization, leg room, or cooling. Schedules were
 haphazard or nonexistent, airlines were consistently on the brink of
 bankruptcy, delays were horrendous, and seventy five years of progress
 had been eliminated by legislators who didn’t even know how to fly.
 Pilots were considered an overpaid but necessary evil.

The final and most devastating step was to convince the flight crews
 that they were paid far too much money, that their working conditions
 were too liberal, their duty rigs were unrealistic, and that they
 could all be replaced by Automation. Salaries were cut, retirement
destroyed, medical benefits reduced, duty rigs eliminated, and
 layovers cut to bare minimums. Senior pilots with years of experience
 retired in droves, military pilots remained in the military, the pilot
 pool dried up, and qualified people became more and more difficult to
 find. Pilots are no longer required to fly because automation has
taken over the responsibility of flight as well as navigation. New
 pilots will never learn to fly, but they can automate the hell out of
 an airplane! EFIS, FMS, and Dispatch now have total control of the
 cockpit. FADEC has taken control of power away from the crew. The
 steep turn has become an unusual attitude! The airplane can now land
 itself and most airlines require it. The aircraft is only really
 controlled by the pilot from the gate to liftoff and from rollout back
 to the gate.  Everything in between is now done by Automation. In
 another ten years knowing how to fly will no longer be a requirement
 for a job as pilot and automation will wear four stripes. My question
 at this point is “Who the hell is going to fly the airplane when
 Captain Automation dies?” Perhaps by then there will be a
First-Automation on board and perhaps even a Flight Automation. I hope
so, because no one in the human crew, if there is one, will remember
 how to fly! Pilots have become unnecessary and obsolete!
 RIP, Airline Pilots. You were killed by deregulation, economics, and
 automation. Unfortunately safety, skill, and Command responsibility
 died with you. It was a rough ride and you died early, but you will be
 remembered with love and pride by all of us who learned piloting from the old timers – the true aviation pioneers! So long Eastern, TWA, Am, Northwest, Northeast, Capital, Braniff, Western, Wien Air Alaska
 and National!    RIP  !!

 Thanks to George.
 Fair Winds

When governments join Plutocracy and greed for money and power is the main and sole motivation it is never in the interest of the populace.

Plutocracy, meaning wealth and power,  dominion, rule; also known as plutonomy or plutarchy, is rule by the wealthy.

©Photo Ts


Arija said...

Hear, hear! I certainly remember the old days when flying from Melbourne to Brisbane was an occasion. You went to see them off at Essendon airport and welcomed them back with flowers. I also remember a particular flight to London in a brand new 747. My husband, being a pilot, had entrance to the cockpit. Luckily there was still a full compliment of crew there, 2 pilots, navigator and engineer. We did not stay long when we realised that all automatic devices had failed. We were in a massive thunderstorm and the navigator had his head down doing calculations, the captain had his hands full keeping the big monster under control and the engineer was desperately trying to find our what the trouble was. We only got to our destination safely due to the skill of our experienced flight crew. Many a time since the advent of economic rationalism, have we sat at an emergency exit and made sure wenew how to open it and have seriously though what if the pilot had a heart attack, could my husband manage to step up to a jet and land it?

Titania said...

Arija; yes, it was so adventurous and yes, we dressed up. It was all so civilized. Yes one wonders how secure the computers are when something unheard of happens, as there are always many possibilities and I do not think one could cover them all. Possibilities are like a snowball always doubling up. Happy New Year for you and your family.