Logic - Aviation - Aircraft

Logic in Aviation

Tim Takeoff
27.09.2019
3 pictures
5 minutes

Well, that’s only logical! Or maybe not? Logic can often be used to advantage for overcoming technological and psychological challenges. But how do we use logic in aviation?

The whole business of flying is based on logical deductions. Human flight follows on the logic of physics, and the logic of technology leads to the ongoing technological modernization of how such flight can be implemented.

Logic at the airport

Logic in emergencies

If an aircraft reports an emergency during a landing approach, it automatically triggers a chain of procedures. Air traffic controllers, fire brigades, ambulances, emergency doctors, police and even the driver of the stairs and the “follow me” vehicle know exactly what to do in such a case. They follow a certain logic, which has been precisely defined by the airport operator and approved in accordance with the applicable laws. This is the only way for an airport to obtain its operating permit, because certain procedures must be clear from the outset.

Manufacturer philosophies

At least just as critical are the ‘techno-logic’ procedures inside a commercial aircraft. Every manufacturer follows its own philosophies. For some, the concept of pilot as a human being and the last instance is more important to some than to others. Many procedures are also different from airline to airline.

Logic is not bird-brained

A small example: If a bird flies against the windscreen of an Airbus, the specified procedure requires the three-layer windscreen to be checked for a break at the innermost layer (this can be checked in flight by the pilot). If this remains intact, the flight can theoretically be continued. Whether or not to do this now because of the limited visibility to the outside, or rather land at a place with best weather conditions and numerous approach aids is what the pilot should decide himself.

Boeing lets the pilot decide whether it’s just a crack, or if there is an indication of a leak in the pressurized cabin. If it is a crack, the flight can be continued. If the cabin pressurization is affected, it is also possible to continue flying under an altitude of 10,000 feet because here is sufficient oxygen available to fly without a pressurized cabin. In order to prevent further bird strikes, however, it is recommended to land as soon as possible.

Logic in the cockpit

Checklists

There are now also electronic checklists. The abolition of the old paper lists has many advantages. Electronic checklists can be accessed quickly or even appear automatically when certain problems occur. If, for example, a fire is detected in a hold, the pilot is notified immediately and the appropriate checklist is pre-selected so that it can be processed as quickly as possible.

The autopilot

Autopilots have a logic all of their own. These are essential for flight guidance and monitoring. When a system fails, it must be clarified to which redundancy the problem can be assigned. This means that in the case of a system failure, the pilot can therefore directly deduce which logic level comes next. If a primary flight computer fails, for example, there are fewer warnings for various flight conditions. As long as the crew is informed, they can make appropriate decisions and operate the aircraft differently.

F-O-R-D-E-C

The decision-making on board likewise follows a precise logic-tree strategy. Especially in a team of two, it can become more difficult to make a good decision on a multifaceted problem. For many years, most airlines have therefore applied certain principles to facilitate decision-making. One of these is referred to as the “FORDEC” principle.

F= Facts = What exactly has happened? What type of problem does the aircraft have, or which limitation must be expected?

O= Options = What can the crew do to remedy the problem? Can the flight be continued or should an alternative landing also be considered? What consequences does this have?

R= Risks & Benefits = Which risks or benefits must be included in the decision procedure?

D= Decision = The pilot implementing FORDEC makes a proposal for a decision.

Usually the younger or less experienced pilot takes over the FORDEC in order not to be unsettled by an authoritarian colleague or the captain. This is often the best way to reach a better decision.

E= Execution = The decision taken is now implemented. All parties concerned are informed of the decision: the air-traffic controllers, further colleagues, the cabin crew and also the airline.

C= Check= After the decision has been initiated, it should be checked repeatedly whether the decision still leads to the desired result. If not, you can also redo FORDEC at any time to find a better decision.

Only such logical procedures can ensure safe flight operations. Many things emerge automatically from others, so processes are predefined. Logic works not only in aviation, but also at home it can be a help to everyone. 😉 If only everything were always so simple…

Once again in detail: How are decisions made in the cockpit? Watch the following video (the important part starts at 00:55):

Well, that’s only logical!

Cover picture: Unsplash – Danist07

by Tim Takeoff

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