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Old 24th Aug 2010, 22:49
  #101 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: FL 600. West of Mongolia
Posts: 462
aaah yes, Max Climb/Max Cruise modes. I'd not forgotten this my friend, I was going to say a few words about that in a future post, but maybe we can do that now. (And I'd love to hear more of your comments on this here too, ChristiaanJ). The intake and autopilot modifications were in a way complimentary it's true, but really dealt with separate problems, at least in my view:
The intake control unit software change (a change to the control law that limited engine N1 as a function of intake local Mach number, Mo, and inlet total temperature, T1) was able to put an absolute limit on aircraft achievable Mach number during Mmo overshoots, but it would not PREVENT Mmo overshoots occurring altogether, it was more of a safety brake. This particular overspeed problem manifested itself well before route proving, and in fact the intake system 'fix' resulted in the Thrust Auto Reduce System being deleted, electronic control boxes and all. The TAR system was fitted on all development aircraft equiped with the digital intake system, and it tried (in vain) to limit extreme Mach overshoots. The production aircraft retained the TAR wiring and locked out circuit breakers, as well as two vacant spaces on the electronic racks. The prime reason for all these efforts were that some of the rapid excessive Mach overshoots quite often drove the intake into surge; the modification to this N1 limiter control enabled engine mass flow to be controlled in such a way that these surges could be prevented during temperature shears. The aircraft Mach limit was an extremely useful fringe benefit.
The AFCS mode change from what was Max Op and Max Op Soft (always loved that name) to Max Climb/Max Cruise was at a stroke able to deal with the regular Mmo overspeeds that kept on occuring during, as you say, the route proving trials of 1975, when British aircraft G-BOAC and the French aircrfraft F-BTSD carried out pre entry into service evaluation flights, SD sadly was the aircraft that was tragically lost at Gonez in July 2000). The Max Climb/Max Cruise AFCS mode combo is a mode like no other that I've personally seen before or since anywhere, (it for instance resulted an elsewhere taboo; an autopilot and an autothrotte working together IN A SPEED MODE).
This problem encountered primarily at lower lattitudes, (for example, G-BOAC doing route proving flights out of Singapore), occurring initially as the aircraft reached Mach 2. It was termed 'the insurmountable problem', but the AFCS designers (such as ChristiaanJ) fortunately did not have 'insurmountable problems' in their vocabulary. The issue was that the aircraft would have been climbing rapidly at Vmo of 530 KTS, with throttles at the gate as usual, At exactly 50,189' we hit what was known as 'the corner point' in the flight envelope, where 530 KTS IAS equated to Mach 2 exactly. Max Op mode would then 'let go' of the Vmo segment, and try and control the aircraft to Mach 2. (As the aircraft climbed, Vmo itself would progreesively decrease in order to equate to Mmo, or 2.04 Mach). But in very cold conditions, the aircraft still 'wanting' to accelerate, and the simple Max Op/Max Op Soft modes just could not cope with gentle pitch changes alone. The problem became even bigger during the cruise/climb when severe temperature shears occured, and routinely regular Mmo exceedences occured. Something had to be done, and something WAS done and how; enter Max Climb/Max Cruise. It was really a classic piece of design, where the aircraft would do the initial supersonic climb in Max Climb mode. This mode itself was relatively simple, in that it was more or less a Vmo -Vc hold mode. That meant that the difference at selection between indicated airspeed, Vc and Vmo would be maintained, with a vernier datum adjust to this being available. In practice this mode was selected pretty much at Vmo, so datum adjusting was not always required. Now comes the clever part; the autothrottle, this would operate in standy mode at this point, just waiting there doing nothing, with the throttles at maximum as before. So the aircraft would now climb as Vmo increased to 530 KTS, and then following a now constant Vmo of 530 KTS until the magic 'corner point' (51, 189' remember). Now all hell would break loose; the mode would automatically change to Max Cruise, the autothrottle would also be automaically selected to Mach Hold mode (initially datumed here to Mach 2) and the throttles would retard, attempting to hold this Mach 2 datum, and the autopilot is commands a 'fly up' signal, over a 20 second lag period to 600'/minute. Now comes an even cleverer (?) part; the autothrottle Mach Hold datum is gradually increased over a 100 second period towards Mach 2.02, and so in stable conditions the throttles would now gradually increase again until they once more reach the maximum limit. At this point, the autothrottles now come out of Mach Hold mode and back into the waiting in the wings standby mode. The autopilot would now cancel it's 600' fly up, demand, returning to a datum of Mach 2. There was a little more complexity built in also, where the difference between the 'commanded' and actual vertical speeds offset the autoplilot Mach 2 datum. This would apply whether the autothrottle had cut in (+600'/min demand) or with the throttles back at maximum (0'/minute demand. A positive climb error tweaked the cruise Mach up slightly, a negative error (eg. in a turn) the converse was true. The effect of all of this complexity was that the aircraft itself could 'scan' until it settled at a point where the throttles could be at maximum, and the speed between Mach 2 and 2.02. On the North Atlantic, with warmer ISA temperatures, there was usually just the initial routine with the autothrottle as you hit the corner point. However at lower lattitudes (eg. LHR BGI) there could be a few initial autothrottle intercepts before things settled down. This whole incredible routine completely took care of the insurmountable problem, a problem that was shown not only to be insurmountable, but was put to bed forever, by people like ChristiaanJ.
I hope that my explanation here does not sound too much like gibberish.

I think you've guessed right as far as my identity goes; it's great that it's not just Concorde pilots I can bore the socks off now
PS. I bet the ex-SEOs LOVED your comments


Last edited by M2dude; 25th Aug 2010 at 01:14. Reason: missed out some info' (sorry)
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