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Boeing Vs Airbus

Human engineering on Flight Deck , 06/06/2007

Human engineering on Flight Deck – Boeing Vs Airbus
While airlines and passengers are obviously concentrating on the cabin service facilities such as: comfort seats and advanced entertainment systems, pilots are concentrating on additional things. When trying to compare the flight deck design and human engineering of the modern commercial jets it is interesting to find differences between the two major manufacturers that are located across the Atlantic Ocean: Boeing and Airbus.

While both industries share the same technologies, same engines, same major components computers and automatic systems, there are still differences on design and human engineering in their flight deck. The question is why?

One answer is the difference in concept and philosophy of how pilots should operate these smart sophisticated aircrafts.
Traditionally, Boeing is using a more conservative approach on flight deck design. Boeing design always puts the pilots on what we call "the loop of information and decision making". For example, the flight control. the flight control column will always move with the direction of the instructed commands to the flight control system, no matter if the command is made by computer or by the pilot. Even in the Boeing 777 and the new Boeing 787, where the flight controls are using the "fly by wire" concept and moving the control stick is only moving commands to the computers (and not directly to the flight control surfaces) still the flight control column will always move. This gives the pilots the ability to visually participate on everything the flight control system has been commanded to do. This movement can allow the pilots to immediately intervene whenever necessary. The movement is in addition to a visual instrument display that gives the pilots information regarding every change in flight control command.

On the Airbus types, the "fly by wire" system is controlled by a little joy stick located on the flight deck side as if it was an F16 fighter jet. The pressure made to the joy stick is being transmitted to the flight control computer without noticeable movement.
In this case the aircraft can fly automatically without the visual involvement of the pilots. Even if one of the pilots is flying the aircraft manually, the other pilot can only guess what are the commands his fellow pilot is giving the system. It becomes more significant on training flights when the commands made by the student pilot are difficult to anticipate in advanced by the instructor pilot. The pilots' gets the instrument display of mode change and they can notice the "result" of the commands but not to take part on it immediately, at least not visually. Same differences apply to some other systems. Obviously pilot manual intervene is always possible in the Airbus types as well.

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