First Officer Samantha Brown

First Officer Samantha Brown

Lead Human Factors Team Member, ALPA-International; United Airlines

Samantha Brown is a United Airlines First Officer, operating the B-757 and B-767 fleet out of Newark, NJ. She also volunteers as a Lead Human Factors Team Member for the Air Line Pilots Association, International (ALPA), helping orchestrate Human Factors and Training projects and representing the interests of over 63,000 professional airline pilots in the United States and Canada.

Prior to United Airlines, Samantha was a captain at GoJet Airlines, operating the CL-65 in Chicago, and volunteered with the airline’s Flight Operations Quality Assurance (FOQA) and Safety Committees. She has over nine years of aviation and safety experience and extensive training in communication and public speaking.

Samantha earned her MS in Human Factors from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and BA in Liberal Studies and Communication from Nebraska. She lives in Tampa, FL with her husband and two cats.

Automation Versus Pilot Manual Flying Skills

Increased automated aircraft often correlate to a perception of a reduced need for pilot training, especially in fundamental areas related to manual flight operations. Rather, training is commonly focused on how pilots can be effective automation managers as opposed to manual handlers of the aircraft, when in fact the two are not mutually exclusive. Does the implementation of an automated system absolve pilots of needing basic manual flying skills? As aircraft systems and automation continue to become increasingly more complex and training curricula continue to shrink, pilots are left to absorb the consequences. There are accidents and incidents that have highlighted how the failure of automated systems exceeded the true range of the pilots’ skills.

These tragic events have yielded several opportunities for our industry to grow and add more resilience. Manual flying should not be viewed merely as a safeguard if automation fails, but rather a fundamental skill that enables pilots to effectively manage the flight path under any combination of manual and automated flight. For this reason, these fundamental skills should be a focal point of training and its practice should be supported in operator policy language. Such activities will reassert a pilot’s confidence and competence in the management of the aircraft, its systems, and ultimately the flightpath.

This presentation will cover how manual flying training and manual flying during line operations, where appropriate, are vital elements needed to maintain pilot proficiency. Also being discussed in this presentation are effective solutions the industry can employ to promote and support manual flight operations including SOP amendments encouraging manual flying, training, and line considerations. In addition, cognitive and psychomotor skills associated with manual flying, their risk of decay, and what can be done to prevent such skill degredation, will be discussed