5th Jun 2012, 11:36
I have a question regarding load sheet via ACARS.
According to FAA, the hazard associated with receiving incorrect information for transmissions of Digital-Automatic Information Service (D-ATIS), Weight and Balance, or Takeoff information digitally over the ACARS has been classified as major. However, ACARS itself was certified to a level corresponding only to minor hazard classification, i.e., data of a non-essential level.
Here is below my Boeing AFMs and FCOMs statements (B737NG):
“The follow is applicable when using the ACARS Airline Operation Control (AOC) Datalink:
Weight and Balance:
The flight crew shall verify that the Weight and Balance numeric and alphabetic values are identical. If the Weight and Balance numeric and alphabetic values are different, the flight crew must not accept the Weight and Balance data.”
The requirement to compare the numerical and alphabetical values for D-ATIS Altimeter Settings, Weight and Balance, and Takeoff Data was chosen by the FAA as one method to lessen the hazard associated with transmitting these types of information digitally over the ACARS.
Therefore, i would like to know what practices exists in the field regarding Loadsheet ACARS data linked transmission:
If possible, I would appreciate to get de identified ACARS loadsheet copies.
5th Jun 2012, 19:51
The US based airlines we deal with dont seem to have their ACARs loadsheets checked by anybody at my station other than the flightdeck.
All other airlines we deal with the dispatcher (turnaround coordinator) checks a copy of the loadsheet and informs the flightdeck if it is correct. Dont even see the loadsheet for US carriers though.
Checking the figures against the wording is to guard against any distortion of the message in transmission.
Never had brought to my notice a single case of an ACARS based load sheet being corrupted from the point it was transmitted from a VDL ground station to being received on the cockpit MCDU / Printer.
European based, not in the USA. We receive ACARS load sheets that only contain numerical values, no alphabetic ones. We pilots cross check those values ourselves and the rampagent checks if they conform to his loading instructions and actual loaded weights. We always print three copies, one for our documentation, one for the rampagent which will be kept for a year at the departure station and one which will be kept by the senior cabin crew and handed over to the rampagent at the destination station. A digital copy is send directly to the company and kept there.
Currently we still have to copy ZFW and TOW into our ACARS journey log, but that will be changed very soon. In the long run communication of stuff like that will move out ACARS into the EFB which will be constantly online via SATCOM and GSM and is connected to the aircraft avionic on the other hand. Long run in this case means within three years.
6th Jun 2012, 19:29
Thanks for your replies. We've been receiving ACARS load sheet along with "paper" load sheet. Never did i encounter a "corrupted" ACARS load sheet. That said, why FCOM (and AFM) still prohibits ACARS load sheet WITHOUT alphabetical values?
7th Jun 2012, 02:20
That said, why FCOM (and AFM) still prohibits ACARS load sheet WITHOUT alphabetical values?
Ever heard of Murphy?:E
Here is an example of a typical ACARS loadsheet on a (small) 737. Values are only numerical and apparently our local (european) regulator has no problem with that. By the way, the MTOW is the lowest flexible MTOW and we can choose between around 10 different ones on each flight up to the structural MTOW.
8th Jun 2012, 09:34
That's exactly the loadsheet we do receive now. But i still have a problem regarding the fiability of the "essentials" figures. How do you cross check them?
And yes did heard about Murphy!!
To be honest i'm somewhat cautious there as there are possible problems and caveats, we had recently a tailstrike because a crew used the wrong weight for take off performance calculation and thrust and speeds therefore didn't fit.
Anyway, we do prefill the FMC with the ZFW from our OFP and crosscheck any deviation from that weight with the final loadsheet (only FMC figure that will be entered apart from MACTOW). Anything more than a couple hundred Kg (lets say more than 200kg) will be crosschecked against differences in passenger load, freight, baggage weight or comail. Those figures will be crosschecked with the ramp agent who has the latest weights himself and the paxload from the boarding gate. If there is any confusion especially in passenger numbers we will do a headcount (usually at least two FAs counting, better three). Baggage and freight is usually weighed before loading, we only have to crosscheck that if some of the freight didn't fit.
If there is any doubt that transmission of the figures was faulty without ruining the whole loadsheet layout (very far fetched) we just use the aircraft mobile phone to call the CLC and talk to the guys who did the loadsheet.
So far we never had a transmission problem with partially or wrong infos on the loadsheet, it either arrived or didn't, in which case we get one via a SITA terminal.