PPRuNe Forums

Go Back   PPRuNe Forums > Flight Deck Forums > Rumours & News
Forgotten your Username/Password?

Rumours & News Reporting Points that may affect our jobs or lives as professional pilots. Also, items that may be of interest to professional pilots.


Reply
 
Thread Tools
Old 12th Sep 2009, 08:57   #1 (permalink)
 
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Europa
Posts: 601
Pilot handling skills under threat, says Airbus

AA09: Pilot handling skills under threat, says Airbus
angelorange is offline   Reply
Old 12th Sep 2009, 09:36   #2 (permalink)
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: A parallel universe.
Posts: 99
Hahahaha! Boomerang effect!

Aren't Airbus the ones who designed an airplane around an autopilot in the first place?

Forget about that golden rule that "it flies like any other aircraft." It sure 'flies' (if you want to call it that) nice, but after a few years of Airbus flying the transition to a more conventional/old fashioned type aircraft was definitely not easy for me.
Tank2Engine is offline   Reply
Old 12th Sep 2009, 10:15   #3 (permalink)
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: US
Posts: 124
"Pilot handling skills under threat, says Airbus"

What a brilliant deduction. I for one could have told them that years ago!
screwballburling is offline   Reply
Old 12th Sep 2009, 10:20   #4 (permalink)
 
Join Date: Nov 2000
Location: UK
Age: 59
Posts: 505
Tanky, you seem to have missed the point; the article applies to long haul, all types. Unless your company SOPs specifically exclude manual handling there is no excuse for not using manual flying skills, long or short haul; in short haul you execute more departures and approaches per year hence have more opportunity than a pure long haul pilot to retain your manual skills. Aircraft manufacturer is not relevant to this line of thought.
beardy is online now   Reply
Old 12th Sep 2009, 10:27   #5 (permalink)
 
Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: 'An Airfield Somewhere in England'
Posts: 1,115
At the risk of turning this into a Boeing/Airbus thread, it is worth mentioning a few salient points. The Airbus has to be considered as a box of tools - there is a tool for just about every occasion in the locker. The problem for many Airbus pilots is that they only use a few of those tools nearly all the time. Such skills as manual flying are often neglected. My personal philosophy is that at least once a week or so, I switch the autopilot, autothrust and flight directors off and do a raw data approach to minimums. It is hard work as raw data instrument flying is a perishable skill which significantly decays through lack of use. If you are not careful you end up losing key abilities that you had in your early years. To be a good Airbus pilot undoubtedly requires a solid grasp of the numerous flight guidance modes, but it also requires the ability to switch the whole lot off should the need arise. I personally encourage low-houred Airbus pilots who have become familiar with the Airbus over say the last year to stretch themselves and periodically switch off the automatics - weather and ATC environment permitting.

This is not just an Airbus problem but a problem related to all new aircraft types (B777, B787, A380 etc, etc). Increasingly we as pilots are becoming systems managers - and it is absolutely vital we have a full grasp of those systems. Nonetheless, it is also imperative the basic handling skill are not allowed to erode. All the 'stick and rudder' men may despise the realities of modern aviation - they alas need to embrace the new skill set required of them. Equally a whole generation of Airbus pilots need to ensure their systems management capabilities, good as they may be, are not maintained at the expense of basic flying skills.
Norman Stanley Fletcher is offline   Reply
Old 12th Sep 2009, 10:35   #6 (permalink)
 
Join Date: May 2001
Location: UK
Posts: 265
Company SOPs

When I worked for a Big Airline some years ago the management became concerned about "incidents" occuring when Airbus crews practiced/used manual thrust on approaches.

If I remember correctly (getting old memory fades etc), they eliminated the problem by banning their crews from practicing the use of manual thrust while line flying.

Needless to say being managers and cynics, they were quite happy to keep the MEL unchanged so if the autothrust bust one was expected drive in and out of LHR and other busy places with manual thrust....

Bigpants
Bigpants is offline   Reply
Old 12th Sep 2009, 10:40   #7 (permalink)
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: A parallel universe.
Posts: 99
Beardy, I see your point, but even flying a short haul Airbus (which I did) you will lose basic handling skills very quickly due to FBW, autotrim and autothrust. Even if you switch it all (except autotrim of course) off, under Normal Law just point the airplane in the correct direction and let go of the sidestick, FBW will take care of the rest.

I thought that my flying skills on the Airbus were OK, but when transitioning back to a "real" airplane I found out that a lot of basic skills needed some brushing up. Airbus really makes your life a lot easier, but this indeed has it's price.
Tank2Engine is offline   Reply
Old 12th Sep 2009, 11:29   #8 (permalink)
 
Join Date: Apr 1999
Location: UK
Posts: 1,683
Quote:
It does seem ironic that airbus would come out with such a statement, after basing their whole FBW philosphy on being flown by an operator rather than a pilot.
I don't believe Airbus ever made such a statement or designed aircraft with such an intent in mind. Thats a trite comment usually made by those with little or no understanding of the Airbus philosophy.
Carnage Matey! is offline   Reply
Old 12th Sep 2009, 11:46   #9 (permalink)
ZFT
N4790P
 
Join Date: Jun 2002
Location: Asia
Age: 64
Posts: 1,330
Jacques gave an excellent 25 minutes presentation on the Airbus philosophy for A350 training and he stated (for about 30 seconds only) during that presentation that they were looking at the issue of erosion of long haul pilots handling skills as an issue that needs to be addressed.

As usual this issue alone is seized upon by the media.
ZFT is online now   Reply
Old 12th Sep 2009, 12:18   #10 (permalink)
Per Ardua ad Astraeus
 
Join Date: Mar 2000
Location: UK
Posts: 18,295
We have to hope that AI will follow-up and give their doorman (or was it the boss's chauffeur?) a bit more 'handling' experience.
BOAC is online now   Reply
Old 12th Sep 2009, 12:49   #11 (permalink)
 
Join Date: Nov 2000
Location: UK
Age: 59
Posts: 505
I have no axe to grind with Airbus nor Boeing. The article was not about that, nor was it about FBW. It was about Long Haul vs Short Haul and was not type specific. Go on try thinking how much manual handling long haul pilots get per annum. It was published by Airbus that's all.
beardy is online now   Reply
Old 12th Sep 2009, 12:54   #12 (permalink)
 
Join Date: Apr 1999
Location: UK
Posts: 1,683
The Airbus has as many foibles as the Boeing I now fly, but perpetuating the myth that Airbus designed it to be 'operated' and not flown by a pilot adds nothing to the debate. You might as well tell us the hoary old tale of how it wouldn't exit the hold one day.
Carnage Matey! is offline   Reply
Old 12th Sep 2009, 13:19   #13 (permalink)
PNM
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Hong Kong
Posts: 51
To Norman Stanley Fletcher

Quote:
"My personal philosophy is that at least once a week or so, I switch the autopilot, autothrust and flight directors off and do a raw data approach to minimums".
I like your thinking, but as a relief qualified First Officer (although flying more regional these days), this is simply not practcal, as one may only get to fly one, or (if lucky) two approaches per month.

Therein lies the problem. With such lack of currency, our company recommends full use of the automatics, to free up extra capacity and situational awareness. When on the back of the clock and with a little fatigue thrown in for good measure, hand flying a raw data approach is simply unwise.

The dog chases it's tail effectively. Lack of currency = full use of automatics. Full use of automatics = lack of hand flying proficiency.

The days off are good though!
PNM is offline   Reply
Old 12th Sep 2009, 13:22   #14 (permalink)
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: A parallel universe.
Posts: 99
Toulouse vs Seattle

I don't have an axe to grind either. Both Boeing and Airbus have their advantages and disadvantages.

But since we're talking about handling skill in this thread, on the Airbus hand flying definitely isn't on my list of advantages. Therefore I agree with SAXONBLOKE that it's a bit ironic that Airbus is now raising the issue of flying skills after they more or less designed the pilot out of the flight deck.

IMHO, on the Airbus it's difficult (both long haul and short haul) to keep up flying skills if you constantly have computers interfering in the process. Just ask the average Airbus pilot after they've made a hand flown landing during gusty crosswind conditions!
Tank2Engine is offline   Reply
Old 12th Sep 2009, 13:22   #15 (permalink)
ZFT
N4790P
 
Join Date: Jun 2002
Location: Asia
Age: 64
Posts: 1,330
Jacques actual statement was “of the 900 hours flown each year only 3 hours are manually flown. Typically these 3 hours consist of minor corrections of < 1 degree below 1000 ft . Airbus are reviewing their training programs to take this into account“.

At no time did he state handling skills were under threat.

Edited to add - What was really surprising was that the Airbus presentation followed a Boeing presentation where Boeing advised that they were REDUCING the conversion time for the 787 (to save cost!!) whereas Airbus took an opposing position and stated that they would not compromise conversion time for safety/quality of training.

Considering Boeing are about to increase everyones training costs by +15% (an announcement sometime within the next few months similar to the BCF saga that will have very significant implications for us all) I am amazed by the lack of reaction to this.

Last edited by ZFT; 12th Sep 2009 at 13:37.
ZFT is online now   Reply
Old 12th Sep 2009, 13:30   #16 (permalink)
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Florida
Posts: 3,987
Quote:
Therein lies the problem. With such lack of currency, our company recommmends full use of the automatics, to free up extra capacity and situational awareness. When on the back of the clock and with a little fatigus thrown in for good measure, hand flying a raw data approach is simply unwise.

The dog chases it's tail effectively. Lack of currency = full use of automatics. Full use of automatics = lack of hand flying proficiency.
It's not an Airbus problem nor even a Boeing problem. It's how we train and learn to merge safely with the machine.

In my experience you can't expect a few words of wisdom from an Airbus VP to do more than identify the problem with the help of pilot boards like this.

My opinion is that once identified the problem needs to be addressed by the regulations and not voluntary individual company SOPs
lomapaseo is offline   Reply
Old 12th Sep 2009, 13:42   #17 (permalink)
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: A parallel universe.
Posts: 99
Quote:
My opinion is that once identified the problem needs to be addressed by the regulations and not voluntary individual company SOPs
Interesting point!

The sad thing is that IMHO the extra safety gained from automation, is happily spent again by most airlines in return for extra productivity. It's a double edged sword, where a loss of skills can have a negative impact on safety, but regularly practicing/keeping up flying skills also has it's price.

Just how realistic is it, in today's busy airspace environment with the level of fatigue, to regularly practice hand flying skills? (and I'm not talking about disconnecting the A/P once established on the ILS!)
Are airlines willing to schedule a yearly extra sim session in order to maintain handling skills?
Tank2Engine is offline   Reply
Old 12th Sep 2009, 15:27   #18 (permalink)
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: Australia
Posts: 136
Definately not a Boeing v Airbus problem.
How about the fact that GA is not the recruiting pool anymore, its whoever can afford to "fund their own training costs" brigade.
The current airline I work for is a prime example( latest gen regional jet), 250hr f/o's who have paid for the privelige of sitting in the RHS and supposedly gaining a career as an airline pilot. Now, don't get me wrong here, the majority of these guys and gals have done an outstanding job of getting a handle on the jet, and when everything is switched on and nothing is taking them outside of the little square, they operate the aircraft just fine.
Recently a couple of us have been purposely taking a select few outside of the little square, with varying degrees of success. Some have actually handled situations very well(no F/D no A/T), but not consistently. Most have no idea what they should be looking at let alone trying to fix deviations, simply because they do not have a basic handling skill background, and have no idea how to hand fly the aircraft. It does appear that we are making some headway in getting these guys and gals thinking that its not just about pushing buttons(and interestingly, the more they handfly, the less button pushing!), but it will take a lot more time for these guys.
As has been already said, maybe the authorities have to start mandating more stringent "ability checks" instead of bowing to airline accountants.
yowieII is offline   Reply
Old 12th Sep 2009, 15:34   #19 (permalink)
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Florida
Posts: 3,987
Quote:
Just how realistic is it, in today's busy airspace environment with the level of fatigue, to regularly practice hand flying skills? (and I'm not talking about disconnecting the A/P once established on the ILS!)
Are airlines willing to schedule a yearly extra sim session in order to maintain handling skills?
From my read of the other posts above, practicing in a busy airspace environment brings on its own level of risk. That's where the regulator needs to be a part of this. Extra sim sessions are a drawback to addressing the suggestion by Airbus but I would be hopeful that a rebalance of training requirements under the regulations could address this.

Lots of stakeholders here, but my thoughts are that the pilots should give a thought if there is any room to repackage their current simulator time to prioritize today's issues versus the old way of training to the regulations.

I'm not saying the old way is bad, but it is worth considering what's more important today. We shouldn't let regulations get in the way. The purpose of the regulations is to permit a safe environment and not as an impediment.
lomapaseo is offline   Reply
Old 12th Sep 2009, 17:17   #20 (permalink)
 
Join Date: Jan 2000
Location: Asia
Posts: 1,577
I'm sure the passengers notice the difference with the automatics off, and some regular flyers will start questioning why things aren't as smooth as they normally are.

Pilots could be rostered for an hours manual flying in the sim once a month, but that would cost money..........
Metro man is offline   Reply
Reply
 
 
 


Thread Tools


Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off



All times are GMT. The time now is 07:36.


vBulletin® v3.8.7, Copyright ©2000-2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
SEO by vBSEO 3.6.1
© 1996-2012 The Professional Pilots Rumour Network