Pilots hate Airbus… Too much auto pilot. And not enough seat of the pants flying. Seems to be problem with the 737 max too.
novice Airbus pilot from the experienced Airbus pilot?" “When the Airbus’ sophisticated automation kicks in, the novice Airbus pilot will ask: ‘what is it doing’ and the experienced Airbus pilot will ask: ‘what is it doing, again?’”
Seriously, the point is that the two cockpits were designed with a different philosophy. I’m oversimplifying but Airbus wanted to have a highly automated system flying the plane, with the pilots monitoring and taking action only when necessary. Boeing is more an evolution of early autopilots, providing systems to handle the repetitive tasks such as maintaining course and altitude.
This difference shows up among others in the yoke and throttles moving under autopilot control on the Boeing (it’s the autopilot helping the pilot) but not on the Airbus with its static joystick and non-moving throttles during almost the entire flight (the computer is doing its thing so why bother providing feedback to the pilot).
The joke I started with stems from the early days of Airbus, when supposedly some pilots had trouble understanding the various modes of the Airbus autopilot, which was doing things that the (poorly trained?) pilot might find unintuitive. Even a couple of crashes were attributed to this misunderstanding of the Airbus systems – look up China Airlines flight 140 if you’re interested. Of course, the Airbus philosophy is now well-accepted, the difference between the two has narrowed as the B777 and B787 are even more automated than their predecessors, and pilot training programs presumably improved so that this no longer should happen.
So which is better? It’s a bit like asking which religion is better: mine, of course! It all depends what the pilot is trained on and used to. Pilots have successfully transitioned from one to the other, and
From a pilot buddy …
Apparently, Boeing made the 737 MAX tail-heavy unintentionally when they modified it with new engines. To compensate, they used software in conjunction with the autopilot to lower the nose of the plane, rather than design it to be “balanced”. Faulty sensors, and this software, are causing the plane to nose down. American pilots are trained to immediately disconnect a faulty “stick pusher”, or other autopilot, that malfunctions, whereas foreign pilots may not have the same training. I also think there is too much automation in modern commercial aircraft, causing pilots to watch, rather than fly. And after a while they don’t even watch. It’s like the Tesla autopilot: not really good enough to drive without you paying attention, but the 737 has the added disadvantage of doing something wrong in an aggressive manner.