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The last fighter pilot has already been born: Version II

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trof Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-15-10 07:48 PM
Original message
The last fighter pilot has already been born: Version II
My previous thread on the subject was locked, possibly rightly so.
I received the material in an email.
I guess it probably was copyrighted since it was written by Greg Jaffe, Washington Post Staff Writer.
Unhappily, I can't find a link to the original article.

Here are a few paragraphs.
You can find the entire article on the locked thread.

By Greg Jaffe, Washington Post Staff Writer

"Four years later, the Air Force still hasn't come up with a way to
recognize the Predator's contributions in Afghanistan and Iraq .. "There
is no valor in flying a remotely piloted aircraft. I get it," said Col.
Luther "Trey" Turner, a former fighter pilot
who has flown Predators since 2003. "But there needs to be an award to
recognize crews for combat missions."

It is the job of Schwartz, the Air Force's top general and a onetime cargo
pilot, to mediate between the old and new pilot tribes. In August
2008, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates tapped him to lead the service,
the first chief of staff in Air Force history without a fighter or bomber
pedigree, reflecting Gates's frustration with the service's old guard.

A quiet and introspective leader, Schwartz has turned his attention to
dismantling the Air Force's rigid class system. At the top of the
traditional hierarchy are fighter pilots. Beneath them are bomber, tanker
and cargo pilots. At the bottom are the officers
who keep aircraft flying and satellites orbiting in space.

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tularetom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-15-10 07:51 PM
Response to Original message
1. My grandfather was a blacksmith
You don't see many of them anymore.

If technology can create a means of controlling air power that's less labor intensive, why not?

We already have subway trains operating by remote control.
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xor Donating Member (180 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-15-10 07:53 PM
Response to Original message
2. I believe this is the link to it
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Skittles Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-15-10 09:14 PM
Response to Original message
3. comments from my SO
When commercial planes started flying there were five guys in the cockpit: pilot, co-pilot, navigator, radio operator, and flight engineer. Now there are two. And that's strictly for the passengers' psyche.

It used to be someone pumped your gas.

Department stores had elevator operators.

The technology is there to eliminate any requirement for pilots. The main limitation of fighter planes is the human protoplasm. We can build 20g fighters, but even stubby-chubbies like me can only take 9.

I'm just glad we haven't out-sourced drones to India.
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trof Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-16-10 07:38 PM
Response to Reply #3
4. Yeah, I was a flight engineer. Read this:
Airbus 380 problems.
There's a lot of aviation jargon here, but you get the idea.

This is what happens when you get rid of Flight Engineers. Did we cost that much?

Cop this . . . A380

1. Bus #2 is supposedly automatically powered by Bus #1 in the event of Engine #2 failure - didn't happen.

2. Buses #3 & #4 will supposedly power Bus #2 in the even that the auto transfer from Bus #1 fails - didn't happen.

3. After some time the RAT deployed for no apparent reason, locking out (as a load-shedding function) some still functioning services.

4. One of the frequently recurring messages warned of the aircraft approaching the aft C of G limit (the procedure calls for transferring fuel forward), the next message advised of fwd transfer pumps being u/s. This sequence occurred repeatedly.

5. Apparently landing/approach speeds are obtained from the FMS, but there weren't anywhere near sufficient fields to load all the defects for speed corrections - the crew loaded what they thought were the most critical ones.

6. The crew commenced an approach NOT because they'd sorted out all the problems but because they were very worried about the way-out-of-tolerance and steadily worsening lateral imbalance.

7. The aircraft stopped with just over 100 metres or runway left, brakes temps climbed to 900C and fuel pouring out of the ruptured tank. Unable to shutdown #1 engine (as previously mentioned) but elected not to evacuate as the fire services were attending in great numbers.

8. The other comment from the source of the above (who was on the flight deck) was that the airplane did many things they simply didn't understand and/or failed to operate as expected.

Possibly I've got some of the nomenclature wrong (being a Boeing man, and proud of it).

Seems the aircraft didn't function very well, the crew did a fabulous job, made some difficult decisions correctly, but that it was far closer to catastrophe than the press realized.

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PacerLJ35 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-16-10 08:01 PM
Response to Reply #4
5. FEs...
Edited on Tue Nov-16-10 08:02 PM by PacerLJ35
FEs certainly had their place in history. But before you go posting stuff trying to make it seem aviation is headed down a black hole of death and destruction, realize that in the years FEs have been phased out, the mishap rate among all transport-category aircraft, civil and military, has gone down. Way down. It is only a fraction of what it used to be. Airplanes crashed at a much higher rate than they are now, and that's WITH FEs.

I fly C-130Js. I used to fly the C-130E and C-130H. Both of the latter have FEs and NAVs. The former (C-130J) only has two pilots on the flight deck...the function of the FE and NAV being absorbed by computerized systems and displays. Declaring an emergency was a normal occurrence in the E and H models. I know of specific cases where things broke in the airplane and the crew had no real idea what was going on...bleed air leaks, malfunctioning thermocouples, etc etc, and those accidents led to the loss of many aircraft. The only losses of a C-130J that I can think of was the RAF aircraft in Iraq (a combat loss) and the Italian AF crash, which was due to the pilot stalling the airplane. And although the C-130J is "new", it's been around for over 15 years. There were dozens of C-130A/B/E crashes in the first 15 years of those model's service...and those aircraft had FEs.

Same goes for NAVs. My old NAV buddies always joke about how we'll get lost without them. But I have way more situational awareness of where I'm at in the newer airplane, and the concept of "getting lost" in a C-130J almost seems laughable (I'm sure it's possible, but you'd have to be a complete idiot and/or make many huge mistakes). I got lost several times in the C-130E and C-130H, with a NAV who had no idea where we were. And since I (the pilot) wasn't actively involved in plotting our course (that was the NAVs job, right?), I found myself having very little situational awareness with respect to our location. Luckily I happened to be in areas that I was familiar with, and I could see the took a couple minutes but I could figure out 'there's that city, and that road, so I must be somewhere around here'. But the point is, even though I had a navigator, we got lost, even if it was for a few minutes.

I'm sure you can point to cases where it may seem as though an FE would have saved the day, but in my experience I'd say those moments are fairly rare. So rare that the benefits of having digital systems far outweighs having old-school mechanical systems with an FE managing them. It's sort of like the seat belt conundrum. Sure, there are 1 or 2 cases where someone actually died because a seatbelt trapped them in the car. But you're weighing that against the tens of thousands who were saved by seat belts.
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