New Automation Philosophy
© 2009 FrontLine Defence (Vol 6, No 2)

The words “philosophy” and “air force” aren’t used together very often, but Major Don Barnby, the Standards Flight Commander at the Central Flying School, and Captain Tim Rawlings, a pilot instructor with the Canadian Forces Air ­Navigation School (CFANS) (both schools headquartered in Winnipeg), are hoping to change that. The two pilots have worked together since 2003 to create the “1 Canadian Air Division Automation Philosophy,” a guiding direction for how the Air Force is going to operate its modern automated aircraft.

“Operating automated aircraft requires a different set of skills and procedures that many of us in the Air Force are not familiar with,” explains Major Barnby. “Technology in aircraft has advanced so much in my generation of flying that new piloting skills are now required in addition to the traditional skills.”

The automation philosophy is the first of four main steps in creating a detailed and modern Air Force automation strategy to ultimately change the way military aircraft are flown.

“The second step is to identify policies that support the philosophy with the assistance of a consultant,” he says. “The third step is to provide the procedures to operate these advanced technology airplanes, and the fourth step is the ongoing review and refinement of those procedures. A constant review of procedures and practices is required given that the technology is always changing in these airplanes with both software and hardware modifications.”

Major Barnby (left) and Capt Rawlings saw the need to improve automation operating procedures after they both left the Air Force and flew for a commercial airline before returning to uniform in 2003.

“During our time ‘away,’ we were exposed to highly automated airplanes,” says Major Barnby. “We saw different training methodologies and different ­operating procedures that didn’t exist in the Air Force.”

Both pilots decided to use what they learned to see if they could assist in creating an Air Force automation operating strategy.

Since beginning their project, Major Barnby and Captain Rawlings have received memorandums of support from Lieutenant-General Charlie Bouchard, former Commander of 1 Canadian Air Division/Canadian NORAD Region Headquarters, as well as Major-General Marcel Duval, the current Commander. In June 2008, both pilots were recognized by Major-General Duval for their efforts with a Commander’s Commendation.

1 Canadian Air Division Automation Philosophy

  • Modern aircraft rely on a high level of automation and technical integration to create tactical advantage and achieve operational effectiveness. The acquisition of modern aircraft, and the modernization of legacy aircraft, demands new skills, knowledge, and attitudes to effectively and safely achieve mission success. Adherence to legacy operating practices on highly automated aircraft is ineffective and unsafe.
  • The employment of aircraft automation must be standardized, disciplined, and fully integrated in all phases of flight. Because the aviator retains authority in determining the optimal use of automation, the aviator must be proficient in operating the aircraft in all levels of automation and be fully knowledgeable in the selection of the most appropriate level of automation for the situation.
  • All Flying Orders, flying training programs, assessment and evaluation criterion, standard operating procedures, briefing guides, checklists, flight manuals, and flying operations shall be in accordance with this automation ­philosophy.

Karen Christiuk is the communications advisor for 1 Canadian Air Division / Canadian NORAD Region Headquarters, in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
© FrontLine Defence Magazine 2009