Benefits and Challenges of Increasing Flight Deck Automation

Event Date/Time


Bowen Hall
Bowen Hall Room 222

Series/Event Type

MAE Departmental Seminars

Automation has brought many benefits to commercial aviation, and it has contributed significantly to an exemplary and improving safety record. This presentation is about current and future issues associated with increasing flight deck automation, including issues related to the Boeing 737 MAX. Although automation rarely fails outright, due to increasing reliability, issues are nonetheless encountered when the automation fails to adequately take into account associated human factors challenges or when it encounters situations that were not anticipated by its designers. As automation comes closer to removing pilots from the loop, it paradoxically generates more challenging human factors issues, not only when it fails to function as designed, but also when it does function as designed.

Speaker Bio

Christopher A. Hart is the founder of Hart Solutions LLP, which specializes in improving safety in a variety of contexts. He is also Chairman of the Washington Metrorail Safety
Commission that was created to oversee the safety of the Washington area subway system. He was also asked by the Federal Aviation Administration to lead the Joint Authorities Technical Review to review the the FAA process for certifying the flight control systems of the Boeing 737 MAX. From 2009 until 2018, Mr. Hart was a Member, Vice Chairman, and Chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), having been nominated by President Obama and confirmed by the Senate. He was previously a Member of the NTSB in 1990, having been nominated by (the first) President Bush. Mr. Hart has a law degree from Harvard Law School and a Master’s Degree and a Bachelor’s Degree (magna cum laude) in Aerospace Engineering from Princeton University. He is a member of the District of Columbia Bar a pilot with