Being an Ocean Yachtmaster and airline pilot for over 30 years, I am in full agreement with the comments made by Skip Novak about automation and AI.
Just to put things right in the minds of public opinion: airliners never, ever take off automatically since the variables in the go/no-go decision are too complex for a computer.
When it comes to landing, we are doing it manually most of the time, it’s just in dense fog that the autopilot lands the aircraft, given that the environmental conditions are within the capability of the automated system.
There are even many arrivals at major airports, such as JFK, where planes have to be flown manually and visually because of close quarter manoeuvring, for example, doing the last turn towards the runway in just 400ft.
In order to keep up the skillset for all that, I go out flying in my own little plane, which lacks any automation.
I prefer doing the same on a yacht – using prop walk in astern and accounting for the wind pressure and tide on the bows when mooring.
It is so nice to feel the movement of the yacht and have to anticipate what it will do next!
Dear Skip, keep agonising over topics please, you have lots to say and we want to hear it!
Regarding your comments in the September issue, having been a commercial airline pilot for 28 years, I can assure you there is no auto take-off function. There is indeed an auto-land capability and the variables it faces on a runway are enormous – you’re in a 3D motion now, not 2D. However, when certain environmental limitations are reached, that auto-land becomes prohibited to use and the landing is trusted to one of the pilots.
I do appreciate your point regarding commercial situations versus leisure. From a commercial aspect, take heart in a lovely paradox: the more technology you infuse into vessels and aircraft, ironically the greater the demand for skilled skippers/captains who can still do it ‘old school’ when the technology is having time out.