Pilots, Aviation & The Paradox of Progress

January 30th, 2017 | by scott spangler

A statement or situation that seems contradictory or absurd but may be true in fact is a paradox. “Water, water everywhere but not a drop to drink!” is the paradox for mariners adrift in any ocean. For aviators, the paradox is that progress in technology that makes their flying lives easier is also reducing the number of seats for them in the pointy end of airplanes.If the paradox is not clear, it is the fact that as more and more machines replace human workers the population has increased, meaning more and more people are competing for fewer and fewer jobs. Ultimately, “automation” summarizes the paradox of progress in a single word. It started with the Industrial Revolution and it continues today. There’s work, work, everywhere but not a job to be had because it’s all being done by machines that are more efficient and, in the long term, more economical. Technology’s replacement of people is easily seen in aviation. It wasn’t that long ago that commercial aircraft had flight engineers, and before that navigators and radio operators. Looking forward, it should be easy to see a single person managing a commercial aircraft system, first from the aircraft itself, and then…

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