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Spectators Balcony (Spotters Corner) If you're not a professional pilot but want to discuss issues about the job, this is the best place to loiter. You won't be moved on by 'security' and there'll be plenty of experts to answer any questions.


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Old 18th Oct 2011, 14:13   #1 (permalink)
 
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Question COULD you land a passenger jet (if you ONLY hold a PPL) - INTERESTING UPDATE pg4

Hi everyone,

I've been having a rather ridiculous argument with a friend (both of us hold a PPL) about whether or not I would manage to land a passenger jet (e.g. 737) if for example the plane got hijacked and we found ourselves in the cockpit (after the hijackers were overpowered by the passengers or something like that... doesn't matter really...)

I argue yes. I have been flying in MSFS since 2002 and I am pretty convinced that I would manage to make a visual approach and be able to control a real 737. My PPL knowledge along with flight sims experience would IMO provide all the necessary knowledge I require for basic control of a passenger jet. I am not saying it will be a pretty landing (nor will it involve any proper procedures) but I am saying I stand a good chance at making it happen.

Obviously I got laughed at...

So, any of you real world pilots have any opinions?

P.S. I landed a full motion SSJ-95 sim before (it was at an airshow where they let me fly it).

Last edited by Bearcat F8F; 8th Nov 2011 at 21:50.
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Old 18th Oct 2011, 14:41   #2 (permalink)
 
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I know airline Captain who had difficulty landing a FS 747 and I had great difficulty with an ATC simulator..... make of that what you will.
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Old 18th Oct 2011, 14:52   #3 (permalink)
 
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No chance to manually land it. Flight Sim gives no idea of what the real aircraft feels like.

However, a PPL may be able to set up an autoland if very carefully talked through the procedures in real-time.
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Old 18th Oct 2011, 14:52   #4 (permalink)
 
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I've heard these questions a few times from folk. I always suggest that, if the aircraft was equipped, the best thing possible would be for a Captain of that type (preferably TRE!) to go to the appropriate control centre and be given a headset to plug-in next to the controller. As the controller clears away other aircraft leaving just yourself and the TRE/Captain etc on the frequency the Captain would be able to explain which buttons to press for the autopilot, whilst the controllers find the closest airfield at which you'd be able to do an ILS autoland.

Manual flying? Forget it! Unless it was fly-by-wire you'd more than likely overcontrol and make a right good royal arse up of it. No matter the number of flight simulator hours you have, I doubt you'd be able to quickly adapt to the bizarre characteristics of whichever aircraft you find yourself having to manually fly!
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Old 18th Oct 2011, 15:06   #5 (permalink)
 
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I took out half of Hounslow in the Concorde simulator landing at LHR. The late Capt Brian Trubshaw was my first officer. I still maintain that it was his fault

Anyway, the answer to your question is 'very unlikely'. An experienced airline pilot would stand a pretty good chance on most types. I wouldn't rate my chances on something like the A380 though.
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Old 18th Oct 2011, 15:19   #6 (permalink)
 
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I reckon most professional pilots would scoff at the idea (perhaps rightly so) .... but I'm actually in your camp!

The concept of automatic flight is brilliantly modelled in many MSFS add ons (not the default aircraft but there are many sophisticated add ons requiring full procedure / set up with FMC etc). In fact some claim to be used by airlines as a training resource (never sure if this is correct or not).

I would think someone with a PPL and some level of understanding of the aircraft type and the automatics at your disposal would stand a fighting chance of getting an autoland, more so if being talked through the procedure.

Hand flying - probably not.
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Old 18th Oct 2011, 15:47   #7 (permalink)
 
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I would suggest a visual approach to landing would not go well. I am sure someone could set up for an ILS then autoland with no jet time though. The level D sims don't land like the real aircraft anyway, I can't land the sim well at all.

I also wouldn't underestimate the stress that you would feel under during a manual landing, the sheer speed approaching the runway combined with rate of descent would cause a PPL to overflare IMHO. You could however worst case just run the aircraft into the ground at around 500fpm as you approach touchdown and it would sit down, although not nice. The ground effect will take the edge off (seen in demo'd in an A320 when as a novice jet pilot trying to flare too much).
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Old 18th Oct 2011, 16:33   #8 (permalink)
 
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Thanks for the input everyone. Much appreciate it!

Do full motion sims that they use for training in airlines represent things accurately in terms of hand flying? As I said before, I didn't really have any issues landing an SSJ manually (although I was not in control of the flaps, reverse, air brakes). In fact it all seemed very familiar after all the flying I have done in MSFS. And also, I didn't have a PPL back then.

So it's still a bit strange to hear that hand-flying you would stand no chance... i.e just because it goes against my experience. Unless of course full motion sims are not the same as real aircraft...

I do however understand anyone in a situation that was described by me above would be under enormous stress from the entire situation and that would amplify how difficult everything is.

But if for example all of you are right about hand flying not being a possibility, then I do think operating the autopilot with help from the ground should make things relatively straight forward until touchdown...
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Old 18th Oct 2011, 16:50   #9 (permalink)
 
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I doubt your SSJ-95 simulator was that accurately modelled. It was more than likely a basic full-motion sim used for procedure training or they wouldn't be carting it around the place to airshows for Joe Public to faff around in! Even the multi-million pound ones have their own noticeable limitations compared to the real aircraft. You would be unlikely to achieve much success in manually flying a 737.
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Old 18th Oct 2011, 17:12   #10 (permalink)
 
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They don't cart it around airshows. The airshow where I flew on it was in Zhukovskiy in Moscow and it was there so the president could go and check it out the day before. It is permanently based there. And and I don't know the name for these sims, but it's one of those that you can train a pilot from scratch and the 1st flight on the real aircraft would be a commercial flight in the right seat.

Here's a video of it:

It's in Russian but I'm sure you can see it's not a fake sim. And if you understood Russian, then it basically says what I just said above.

I am not going to say how accurately it is currently modeling the environment as it hasn't been certified yet. So in that respect you may very well be correct - it might not be as accurate as the real thing.
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Old 18th Oct 2011, 17:21   #11 (permalink)
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bearcat F8F View Post
They don't cart it around airshows. The airshow where I flew on it was in Zhukovskiy in Moscow and it was there so the president could go and check it out the day before. It is permanently based there. And and I don't know the name for these sims, but it's one of those that you can train a pilot from scratch and the 1st flight on the real aircraft would be a commercial flight in the right seat.
Surely even the Russians aren't doing this? Unless by "real aircraft" you mean something that isn't a Cessna or Cherokee!

Why are you so adamant that you'll be able to successfully hand-fly a jet to a landing in an emergency situation if your only hours are in a PA28? I wouldn't be that confident handflying a 747 or 777 under pressure to a landing with no prior flying experience on either type, and I've flown 757s and 767s! Yes I'd probably manage it but I've flown jets before .... you haven't so you more than likely wouldn't stand a chance!
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Old 18th Oct 2011, 17:21   #12 (permalink)
 
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I have no idea of the real statistics but I imagine that a normal two pilot professional crew would screw up the landing once in something like a 100,000 landings. A single pilot professional flying a normal airliner might screw up once in 50,000 landings.

A typical PPL flight simmer would screw up once in less than 10 landings. Would you want to take those odds?

I say that having achieved 7 out of 7 successful landings in a BA full motion 777 simulator myself, as a fairly experienced PPL and FS pilot. (with some help with flaps and using auto throttle).

The first thing you would want to do if put into that situation is to get help over the radio. Do you know which is the transmit button as opposed to the A/P switch? They are right next to each other on the yoke.
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Old 18th Oct 2011, 17:34   #13 (permalink)
 
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Quote:
Why are you so adamant that you'll be able to successfully hand-fly a jet to a landing in an emergency situation if your only hours are in a PA28?
I'm not. I only mentioned that in the 1st post. I do maintain I have a fighting chance though. And I've mentioned above it might not be pretty. Basically what pulse1 said:

Quote:
typical PPL flight simmer would screw up once in less than 10 landings.
I interpret this - so at least 1 in every 10 times there is a possibility. And if I found myself under the conditions that I described in the 1st post, that is more than enough to try it as opposed to just running out of fuel and crashing.

However if I was indeed in that situation I'm sure the 1st thing I would do is get help from the ground and follow instructions of another pilot as opposed to flying it the way I want to!
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Old 18th Oct 2011, 19:06   #14 (permalink)
 
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In 'Pilot' magazine about 4 years or so ago, this very situation was discussed by Editor Nick Bloom and retired BA Captain Bob Grimstead. Their telephone discussion led to an article by Bob Grimstead into the hows and whys of this very scenario, and led to the conclusion that the guy most likely to get anywhere near success was the guy who flew airliners on autopilot on MFS because the systems are pretty well in tune with the actual aircraft they purport to represent. As for the manual landing, his verdict was a most definite 'NO'.
Is there anyone out there who can post the article.? It made interesting [and sobering] reading.
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Old 18th Oct 2011, 19:47   #15 (permalink)
 
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I would love to read that article!
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Old 18th Oct 2011, 19:55   #16 (permalink)
 
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They also did it on the Mythbusters series, both presenters were non pilots and crashed miserably on their first attempt but both made successful/survivable landings whilst being told what to do over the radio, however like Pulse1 says, a non pilot wouldn't have the know how to get the radio help in the first place.

MythBusters Episode 94: Air Plane Hour
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Old 18th Oct 2011, 20:09   #17 (permalink)
 
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By the time that you realise that we are both dead or incapacitated up front it will already be to late. And on the slim chance that you realise in time then you might want to consider:-

- how will you get through the locked cockpit door in time to save the day?
- ever tried lifting a deadweight of 100kg or thereabouts out of a cockpit seat in a confined space without knocking any of the flight controls. Granted on an Airbus it is slightly easier with the sidestick off to the side but more than likely you will nudge something important
- autolands are a nice concept in theory but you still have to meet all of the arming conditions, have a serviceable aircraft, and ensure that the airport you are about to land on has an ILS and not just an NDB or visual approach. If its a circling only to one end then your definitely screwed.
- there is also the small matter of stopping the aircraft after you are back on terra firma and not overshooting the end of the runway and hitting something. Be a shame to do a nice autoland and then split the fuselage in half leading to a fireball as you go off the edge of the runway into a ravine.
- once stopped what happens next? do you let the punters blow the escape slides and dive into live running engines or will you run the appropriate checks to secure the aircraft before commanding the evacuation?

Finally there may well be a company pilot on board so you will be surplus to requirements in anycase.
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Old 18th Oct 2011, 20:24   #18 (permalink)
 
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Several years ago,
1 PPL holder.
2 Valid TWR/APC ATCO.
3 Full motion flight simulator, (Midland B737).
4 Initial (instructor set-up), stabilized approach to our busiest duty runway.
5 Successful touchdown in the middle of Heald Green.
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Old 18th Oct 2011, 22:23   #19 (permalink)
 
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Can I just make sure we are all clear here:

So IF a PPL holder can land a full motion sim (744 for example), he/she will NOT be able to perform the same in real life? And yet the whole idea behind those sims is to teach people how to fly that aircraft without flying it for real... that's the bit that I don't get.

I am not referring to my SSJ-100-95 sim experience here (as I have no way of telling how accuare the flight dynamics/ systems were on that sim). However I do have a friend who flew a full motion 747 and A320 sim in the US a few years back when he only held a PPL. He said he landed short on the 747 once (because of how high the cockpit is) but said he got it spot on the 2nd time. I know he is not a liar and do believe he pulled it off. I assume the aircraft was in a "stabilized approach" when he took control. So going by what has been said here today, if he was presented with a situation like that in real life, he would fail (i.e. manually landing the plane)?
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Old 18th Oct 2011, 22:31   #20 (permalink)
 
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Quote:
My PPL knowledge along with flight sims experience would IMO provide all the necessary knowledge I require for basic control of a passenger jet.
Little do you know...........

Once upon a time when I had several thousand military hours I well remember the very steep learning curve when I changed employers and started flying passenger jets. The idea that you'll just jump into a jet in the cruise and land it because you've got a PPL .... from me it's an almost certain thumbs down...

There are a heck of a lot of pitfalls........If you don't stuff up right from the start and lose control through misuse of the automatics, if it's a type you're familiar from your flight sim and is accurately modelled in your flight sim, if you manage to leave the automatics in, can set the FMC/navaids up for your desired runway, can manage the energy/speeds/flaps/config/automatics switching , you might, just might, manage an successful autoland (<10%chance IMHO) ....

You'd be better off if you can get advice from a type rated pilot over the radio ( but yes, watch out for the autopilot disconnect switch) but bear in mind you probably will not have the benefit of lots of fuel and therefore time to experiment, but I'd say 50% chance at best......

Manual flying/landing???? ..You said your mate managed it and
Quote:
I assume the aircraft was in a "stabilized approach" when he took control.
Bingo - there's one of your ( and many a trainee airline pilot's) biggest problems - getting from the cruise down to the stabilised approach...any idea of how you do it ( perhaps with limited fuel) ?

IMHO Zookers example is quite a good one - heading for Manchester (UK) and you'd probably end up hitting Heald Green 99% of the time........a survivable landing on the grass on the airfield is the best you could hope for if you're lucky, and I'd give you <1% chance of doing that unassisted..and that's giving you the benefit of good weather and daylight

Last edited by wiggy; 18th Oct 2011 at 22:56.
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