Here is an example of a PR crisis in the making unless airlines work hard to prevent it.  The idea that pilots never learn how to fly their highly automated planes makes sense.  Most of us learn to trust the output of machinery without learning what is in it.  Consider, for example, a car.  How many have an understanding of how the engine, drivetrain and electrical systems work.  Most of us get into a vehicle, turn the key and go unless the engine doesn’t start then we call a garage or tow truck.  But, because modern cars work so well, we rarely need to do that.  Pilots are the same way.  The more their planes are automated, the less they have to master the complex systems that run them — until something goes wrong at 30,000 feet.  A preventable crash because of system failure is an immediate black mark on an airline’s reputation for safety.  It is not one that a carrier can afford.

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