Why is it that airliners and aircraft do not have a single start button for all systems?

On TV etc., I noticed that pilots pressing buttons above and below forward and sideways, mostly above though, switching on button after button, switch after Switch.

Why not:

  • have single start button for all systems where a computer does all the check lists?
  • is because they need to do checklists hence the switches?
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Considering not so long time ago airliners needed a Flight Engineer I can guess there's already a lot of automation in place $\endgroup$ – jean Mar 29 '18 at 10:38
  • $\begingroup$ Maybe it's just a system integration problem. E.g. if a TV uses a separate set-top box and separate audio system, then turning on the TV as a whole system requires you to turn on three switches. For decades and after billions of TVs made and sold, nobody really bother to invest money on a single switch home-theater design (until very recently?). $\endgroup$ – user3528438 Mar 29 '18 at 14:31

Good question, actually the history of aviation teach us that: any technology on board is robust and capable to not crash or reboot for nothing. Behaviour you can see sometimes on brand new technologies. So everything which is on board is ten years old technology.

In the same time, the pilot needs to be able to switch off or on some systems if they are failing, if you automated all the sequence it start to be difficult to know if the pilot has the real control of the system.

It is only matter of safety and control. Because we already know that we are capable to automatically take off, fly and land UAVs. Why not in an airliner? Because safety. It has to be proven for a long time to convince safety agencies to make the step forward.


The age and engine systems matter a LOT here. Older aircraft, especially older multi-engine turbojet aircraft like the early airliners, had multiple engine subsystems and less integrated monitoring capabilities. These subsystems had to be managed/monitored individually, mostly to keep the many parameters within range during startup and to a somewhat less extent during normal operation. Newer engines utilize more complete FADEC systems that in some cases do almost make the system as simple as "push to start" -- but at some level this is just a progression of the automation system.


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