Monday, December 8
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1hr 28mins // directed by:Jim Abrahams // featuring:Lloyd Bridges, Julie Hagerty, Robert Hays, Leslie Nielsen // 35mm

Laugh in the face of disaster!

Airplane! set the bar for slapstick comedy 30,000 feet high when it crashed into cinemas in the summer of 1980. Recently ranked the number one comedy of all-time by Empire Magazine, this pun and sight-gag-filled disaster film spoof features a jive-talking grandma, a shell-shocked Lieutenant who thinks he’s Ethel Merman, and a co-pilot who looks suspiciously like Kareem Abdul-Jabar.

In short, what better film to pair with an aviation expert from MIT? We know you’re thinking, “surely, you can’t be serious,” but we are, and don’t call us Shirley.

In the film, ex-fighter pilot Ted Striker pursues his flight attendant girlfriend Elaine onto a Boeing 707 bound for Chicago, in an effort to win back her affections. Ted hasn’t flown since “the war”, where he was severely traumatized and developed his “drinking problem”. When a case a food poisoning spews through the cabin (probably the fish), Ted must overcome his fear of flying to bring the plane down safely.

Before the film, MIT Professor R. John Hansman will give an overview of modern flight automation systems in commercial aircraft. In most aircraft, the autopilots are capable of flying from takeoff to landing and would been useful for Ted in Airplane! However, with these new complex systems, the role of the pilot has changed. In some cases, pilots may become too reliant on the automation, or they may not fully understand what the automation is doing in unusual situations. The operation of theses systems will be discussed, along with several examples where confusion between the pilots and the automation system has been implicated in aircraft accidents.

About the Speaker

R. John Hansman is the T. Wilson Professor of Aeronautics & Astronautics at MIT, where he is the Director of the MIT International Center for Air Transportation. He conducts research in the application of information technology in operational aerospace systems. Dr. Hansman holds 6 patents and has authored over 250 technical publications. He has over 5800 hours of pilot in-command time in airplanes, helicopters and sailplanes including meteorological, production and engineering flight test experience. Professor Hansman chairs the US Federal Aviation Administration Research Engineering & Development Advisory Committee (REDAC) as well as other national and international advisory committees. He is a member of the US National Academy of Engineering (NAE), is a Fellow of the AIAA and has received numerous awards including the AIAA Dryden Lectureship in Aeronautics Research, the ATCA Kriske Air Traffic Award, a Laurel from Aviation Week & Space Technology, and the FAA Excellence in Aviation Award.