View Full Version : Time for a new edition of "Handling The Big Jets" ?
19th Dec 2009, 14:58
Given the resurgence of threads in PPRUNE bemoaning perceived shortcomings in basic handling skills of commercial jet pilots:
Do you think it's time for a new edition of “Handling The Big Jets” ?
Are the aerodynamic / propulsive characteristics of modern jets that different from their predecessors ?
Should there be a special section on use and abuse of automatics?
Should there be an extended section on high altitude flying (especially in the wake of speculation around AF447) ?
Who should write it ? ( I wasn't sure which section to post this in, General, Flight Instructors etc but opted for here because Mr. Davies was one of your kind and I suspect only one of your kind would be able to right a new Edition. A difficult task given his clarity of thought and excellent prose ! I've just noticed I am referring to Mr Davies as “was” when he maybe anything but; in which case maybe he is the man for the job still.)
Am I behind the times because modern alternatives already exist ?
Just some idle thoughts / questions.
(Just for clarification I am not a military / commercial pilot merely a lowly PPL. I wouldn't know a flight test if one crashed into me. Being severely restricted in the Fifth Aerodynamic Force I confine my activities to a part share in a pitts and a glider but do enjoy reading about aerodynamics / flight handling......It's sad I know!!)
Captain David P. Davies was one of a kind...
Not only superbly qualified in his capacity but, his easy-to-read style of writing, made his book a joy to read.
I don't know...I wonder... is there anyone so-qualified today to do what DPD did, and write about it in the same style?
If so, please stand up and make yourself heard....please!:ok:
John Farley - a test pilot of some renown!! and an easy writing style - only trouble is he hasn't flown big jets!
24th Dec 2009, 15:58
David P. Davies, OBE, DSC, born 11 April 1920, died 30 November 2003 aged 83.
From The Times' splendid obituary, 1 January 2004:
'He had his share of hairy moments, especially when evaluating stalls. During a Britannia stalling test in the 1950s, the big, four-engined transport suddenly flick-rolled and went into a spin. He recalled: "It recovered beautifully - which Bristol claimed was grounds for not complaining!" On the way home, "wondering why we'd ever joined in the first place", his flight observer Roy Burdett lit a cigarette for him and said "How about a loop as an encore?" '
28th Dec 2009, 21:55
New edition of "Handling the big jets"?
Thanks, but no thanks. Reprint of third edition (with us since 1971.) will do just fine. Pilots won't improve their handling skills by merely reading the book. Understanding it and practising what's written might help. From what I've gathered, today's aeroplanes have better performance and nicer handling, compared to first generation jets, but they are not radically different. As for use and abuse of automatics, you have it all nicely summed up in the "To airline pilot" chapter. Nothing there to be added or removed.
There is no modern alternative and there shouldn't be. In our PC obsessed world, mr Davies' clear-cut judgment occasionally comes across as quite harsh, which is entirely fault of our day and age, not his.
9th Jan 2010, 17:30
A "new' HTBJ:rolleyes: ---Don't you believe it!!!:}
9th Jan 2010, 17:44
I would like to suggest that Clandestino is very correct to praise the book in general - but not unreservedly.
The problem with suggesting that a 1976 version still holds good today is that the comment ignores modern fly by wire aircraft. At the risk of teaching thousands of grannies to suck eggs the following diagrams show two very different control systems:
While I have only flown small military FBW aircraft I believe what I want to say is still valid for larger aircraft.
When you are manually flying an aircraft on finals on a nasty gusty day the turbulence will cause the usual variations in bank angle (and perhaps in pitch and yaw) and if the aircraft is a non FBW aircraft you must pretty quickly do what is necessary with the stick (or wheel) to keep the attitude as you want it.
In the same circumstances with a FBW aircraft if shall we say the wing drops a bit you must give the red (feedback) control loop time to correct the attitude back to what it was before the gust. This it will do. If on the other hand you use traditional piloting techniques and skills and stuff in a load of aileron as the wing goes down this will take effect just as the computer is also doing its thing. The sum of these two inputs will put the other wing down and off you go on a nice little pilot induced oscillation.
So in my view it is easy to 'overfly' a FBW aircraft in rough air. Just relax, and use the model in your head that you are an instructor and watching a student perform. We all know we don't like instructors who do not wait for the student to do the right thing and grab it too soon.
Dave's excellent book does not cover these changes. Eleven years after his last edition was published the A320 started flying. Today it has been joined by the A330, A340, A380, B777 and B787.
9th Jan 2010, 22:26
Aerodynamically jets have been refined but the basic principles of HTBJs remain the same.
However, the way we operate the controls has changed a great deal along with the huge developments in materials and navigational techniques (GPS derived).
John Farley has hit the nail on the head with his comments on FBW. However there is much more to the computer than the simple box might suggest. Indeed I understand the A320 has 7 flight computers each with an different 186 chip manufacturer. No doubt the Harrier GR1 was quite a handful for 1st tourists in it's day compared to the VAAC Harrier systems we hope will make a production spec F35B a great deal simpler to operate. But the latter has it's own computer issues and operators of 4th Gen Fighters have noticed it is much easier to get distracted by those fancy screens than the 1970s dials.
Knowing the control laws and mode changes that can occur with loss of systems like hydraulic fluid loss and or jammed flaps/slats is a fundamental change with Airbus FBW.
And then there is the brain of the aeroplane - the FMGC/FMS which requires careful inputs and knowledge of how modes change with autoflight selections eg: a Non Precision Approach in V/S mode into a go-around can lead to some interesting a/c responses.
ETOPS is another area that has developed since the 1970s and low cost airlines along with their strict fuel load and burn requirements in much busier airspace.......
10th Jan 2010, 10:53
Thank you for those comments I agree with you.
However my simple diagram was not meant to imply a single computer (my fault I did not make that clear) I just wanted to get across the need to recognise the importance and effect on the pilot of the feeback loop.
The reliability issues that surround FBW are in my opinion quite a different topic from basic FBW handling matters and are worthy of a new thread.
10th Jan 2010, 12:04
Sir John, I'm awestruck. You have nicely summed up Airbus bulletin on handling the A320 on final approach without ever reading it. I can confirm that A320 behaves just as you predicted: after disturbance FBW picks up the wing and/or restores the pitch but it doesn't return the aeroplane to the original heading or flightpath - gentle nudges on the sidestick are required to regain them. I must admit that I have made a mistake of not considering FBW to be a radical innovation as my subjective opinion, based on my entirely uneventful switches from classic controls to Airbus FBW and back, was that from pilot's perspective it is not very radical.
However, I wouldn't like too see chapters dealing with FBW grafted on the "Handling the big jets". What I'd love to read is entirely new book: "Handling the FBW transport aeroplanes", dealing with Airbi from 318 to 380, triple seven, E-jets, Tu-204, An-124 and Falcon 7x with B787 and Sukhoi Superjet left for the second edition.
10th Jan 2010, 18:55
As much as a book on the FBW theme might be required, it probably wouldn’t address the same types of issue which Davies did.
IMHO, he addressed flying problems which originated with the jet age and were likely to be exacerbated by the Big Jets. His unique position with the CAA enabled both identification of the knowledge shortfall, and the opportunity to communicate an extensive knowledge base being assembled in and around new regulations.
The thread posed the question with the assumption of the perceived shortcomings in basic handling skills of commercial jet pilots.
The deterioration or lack of handling skills with increasing automation (technology) is a common view, but some researches suggest that there may be other perhaps more serious problems.
Bainbridge – The ironies of automation (www.bainbrdg.demon.co.uk/Papers/Ironies.html), identifies that physical skills may deteriorate (but not lost) when not used, yet with the advent of automation the operator can be less skilled, but of further concern is the loss of cognitive skills. IMHO the latter problem is the issue which should concern the industry and may be at the root of the perceived loss of handling skills.
Therefore perhaps we need a reference explaining how to use the new technologies and apply this knowledge in complex operational environments. In this, it is not the physical aspects of flying FBW, but the thinking processes required with new technology (of which knowledge may be lacking) and together with regular practice, develop the operating skills required for modern high technology aircraft.
Humans and Automation: Use, Misuse, Disuse, Abuse. (http://hfes.publisher.ingentaconnect.com/content/hfes/hf/2008/00000050/00000003/art00012)
11th Jan 2010, 22:11
John Farley,...the FBW systems platform choosen by boeing for the T7 is a traditional speed stable aircraft but with FBW,...only the Dassault Falcon 7X and A320-on series have a flight path stable 'military' configuration,.
..I think folks maybe looking for a book to explain all of the etops and gradients blah blah bla,...and they have that for 'modern flying',... but the why's and what's as well as the pure airmanship make that text to me, timeless,...of course I can see your point sir:)