The pilot is in charge of the aircraft. Flight deck equipment is intended to assist him in carrying out his responsibilities with safety. The pilot has the final authority over a broad array of equipment including many automated functions. The paper discusses the benefits and cost of automation. A method is proposed whereupon the pilot is viewed as the foundation of a hierarchy of increasingly automated systems. The hierarchy approach provides both the aircrew and the design engineer with a useful metaphor which encompasses automation in present day aircraft and future aircraft. The paper suggests that, in the future, automation and upcoming technologies be thought of as tools for adopting the machine to compliment human performance in routine as well as emergency conditions.