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Glass cockpits no safer: NTSB

written by australianaviation.com.au | March 11, 2010
The NTSB says pilots need appropriate training for glass cockpits.
The NTSB says pilots need appropriate training for glass cockpits.

The US National Transportation Safety Bureau (NTSB) has adopted a study which shows that single engine aircraft with glass cockpits had a safety record no better than those with conventional instruments.

The study, which was initiated over a year ago, looked at the accident rates of over 8000 small piston powered aeroplanes manufactured between 2002 and 2006. It found that those equipped with glass cockpits had a higher fatal accident rate than similar aircraft with conventional instruments. In particular, the NTSB noted that with the complexity of glass cockpits that “pilots are not always provided with all of the information they need… to adequately understand the unique operational and functional details of the primary flight instruments in their airplanes.”

“As we discussed today, training is clearly one of the key components to reducing the accident rate of light planes equipped with glass cockpits, and this study clearly demonstrates the life and death importance of appropriate training on these complex systems,” NTSB chairman Deborah Hersman said on March 9. “We know that while many pilots have thousands of hours of experience with conventional flight instruments, that alone is just not enough to prepare them to safely operate airplanes equipped with these glass cockpit features.”

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Based on the study, the NTSB made six recommendations to the FAA, including enhancing knowledge and training requirements, requiring manufacturers to provide pilots with better information to manage systems failures, and integrating training elements of using electronic primary flight displays into existing training streams.

A presentation on the study is available from the NTSB website, with the full report to be published in coming weeks.

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