Anyone who has ever sat inside an airplane cockpit has seen the myriad of complex flight instruments, computer technology and communications equipment, designed to help a pilot fly safely from one point to another. For a student pilot, the cockpit can seem like information overload, particularly in the early phases of flight training. It can be difficult to strike a balance between the need to know what the instruments are indicating and the more fundamental requirements of simply flying the airplane.
It varies by individual, but at some point during flight training a student pilot becomes comfortable with the cockpit environment. All the training comes together and the student pilot actually begins to fly the airplane, building confidence along the way. Once a pilot is comfortable in the cockpit, however, an airplane's advanced technologies such as autopilot can sometimes create a false sense of security. One flight instructor's story warns of the dangers that can result:
On a sunny day over North Texas two airplanes were involved in a mid-air collision, killing both pilots. At the ensuing press conference the NTSB crash investigator was asked how two state-of-the-art airplanes, each containing the latest in radar and crash-avoidance technology could possibly collide, on a day without a cloud in the sky. And the NTSB investigator replied: “Because every so often you still need to look out ...