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Old 24th Aug 2010, 14:25
  #93 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: France
Posts: 2,319

Thanks for bringing up the story of the temperature shears at low latitudes, saves me some explaining !

The phenomenon was not really "discovered" until the route proving started.
As you say, it meant abrupt changes in Mach and Tt.
Since the pitch autopilot in, say, 'Mach Hold', had only one way to cope with those changes : pitching up or pitching down, this resulted in abrupt climb and descent manoeuvres that were totally inacceptable.

It was not only fixed by modifiying the intake controls.... !
It also led to a fairly major mod in the AFCS, by bringing the auto-throttle into the loop.
Instead of letting the pitch A/P take the aircraft into a zoom climb to try and stay within the "speed limits", it woold be the autothrottle pulling the throttles back.
After a fair amount of flight tests, this became the final form of the 'Max Cruise' mode.

I know... I should have kept a diary.
All this happened 35 years ago, so I can't put exact dates, or even specific aircraft, into the story. At least I still have some Concorde doc, that at times allows me to refresh my memory.

But one thing stayed in my memory over the years ...

The initial A/P+A/T 'Max Cruise' mod meant a major modification of the autothrottle computers. One of the circuit boards in particular was totally "butchered" on-site (Fairford), with well over a hundred track cuts and new wire links, not to mention the number of component changes (to give an idea to the 'experts', these were double-sided PCBs of about 15x20cm).

We got the job done (4 boards : 2 boards per computer, 2 computers), got the computers tested and on the aircraft. Knowing full well how easy it was to introduce faults and problems during such a modification (a dud solder joint could be enough), we expected to see them back within days, or at least within a few flights.

Well..... those computers left the lab with each about a thousand hours "on the clock" (they have little elapsed-time counters that indicated hours under power, NOT flight hours).
The first time we saw them back (for a minor mod, not a fault), both clocks showed over 10,000 hours !

Ah, those were the days

ChristiaanJ is offline