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Ben Younger
In late October, Garmin introduced an emergency autoland system that will fly an airplane to a suitable airport taking into consideration enroute weather and obstacle clearance, extend gear and flaps on final, control throttle position to a safe landing and even an engine shutdown; all the while communicating with ATC, and I imagine at least one not-very-calm passenger who has pushed the red button. The debate over magenta lines and we children who follow them is a moot one. Whether or not you rely on automation, it is happening. VORs are quickly disappearing. GPS is decidedly the futureproof standard-bearer for navigation. Magenta is our present and future. The debate must move from discussing “if” to “how?” How do we remain proficient in this era of automation? How best to use these new tools?

The argument (read: fear) is that more avionics capability allows the errant pilot more room to maneuver into dangerous territory—as opposed to reinforcing current personal minimums. The technology improves, and we push our luck. Or do we? In the latest Air Safety Institute Nall Report (with analysis of 2016 data), weather-related accidents were down 65 percent. I’m just going to say it: The magenta line is our friend.

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January - February 2020