Boeing vs. Airbus is probably one of the most debatable topics in aviation as aviation enthusiasts argue as to which aircraft they believe have the better design characteristics. Both Boeing and Airbus pride themselves in their design characteristics with the incorporation of automated systems and their individual flight control systems. However, Boeing and Airbus philosophy on the the use of the automation system is completely different and this is what sets the two companies apart.
Boeing’s philosophy advocates for the pilot. They believe that the pilot is to have ultimate control of the the automation system and that the pilot should tell the system what to do and how to do it. Boeing’s design is more human-centric which prevents the system from overriding the pilot’s decisions. In essence, if the system has any suggestions it seeks the pilot’s input and only the pilot can change the airplane flight characteristics.
On the other hand, the Airbus philosophy advocates for automation which aids in removing human error. At any point the automation system can override the decision of the pilot and the pilot can only respond to the decisions made by the system. An example of this is Airbus’ use of the fly-by-wire system. The fly-by-wire is a system which uses computers to make flight control inputs that a pilot would otherwise normally make. The movement of the flight controls is operated by electrical signals that are transmitted by wires and the system is used to prevent the unsafe operation of the aircraft outside of its performance envelope. In emergencies Airbus pilots are trained to make an input in the computer system but the computer system ultimately solves and corrects the problem on its own.
It is hard to say which design is safer because both Boeing and Airbus design bring some amount of safety. It all comes down to the amount of pilot error introduced. On one side, Airbus is becoming safer by reducing the amount of bugs in the system and lowering the risks of accidents due to automation. On the other side, Boeing is becoming safer as it gives the pilot the option to fix the problem and the Boeing approach calls for pilots to receive in depth training on how to respond to emergency situations.
I specifically prefer Boeing aircraft because I love to be in control when I’m flying and I believe that a pilot is to have full control of his or her aircraft. Having control over an aircraft when flying keeps me more alert and allows me to become a sharper pilot. Besides, having automation flying an airplane takes the all the fun out of flying!