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Old 2nd Aug 2013, 11:54
  #67 (permalink)  
Join Date: Sep 2001
Location: Third planet from the sun
Posts: 381
Does automation save fuel?

Using automation saves fuel!? NO, I disagree! (I already gave an example in this post)

Let me give you an other example that happened to me just a few days ago:

I was approaching CFU from the NNE. At aprox. 200 NM out we realised that the B737 20 NM ahead of us was also going to CFU. (The 737 was from a well known LCC with HQ in Ireland) And even though we were flying CI 10 in our A320 , we were catching up on him. We asked for his speed via ATC. We reduced from 270 to 260 kts when he replied his speed was 265 kts.

The weather was severe cavok with "unlimited" visibility, not a single cloud around and no wind! We were both transferred to CFU radar at about 70 nm out. ATC told the 737 that he was nr 1 for landing and that he could proceed to GAR for the VOR 35 app. We were told we were nr 2 and got vectored to BETAK.

When I go to CFU with such conditions, I would jump on the occasion and ask for a right hand visual to rwy 35 over the water! Prompted by me, ATC asked him if he would be flying the full procedure VOR app or if he was interested in a visual app.

He turned down the visual and opted for the full procedure!
(he was at FL160 with 50 NM to go to GAR!)
While we were vectored beyond BETAK around the island while being told to reduce speed (already flying 250 below FL100), he flew the whole app at very slow speed. Even when reducing to 180 kts at BETAK, we were only 5 NM behind him on final and landed 2 min later. I strongly suspect he flew the whole approach on the FMGC speed and profile.

Now I can fully understand that a pilot follows the FMGC computed speeds during descend as per SOP, but this pilot could easily have saved 3 minutes, 12 miles and >100 kg of fuel by doing a nice and easy visual app.

We, after vacating the rwy had to hold position one extra minute because the mandatory follow me was still busy with the 737. We arrived on blocks 8 mins later and with 200 kgs less fuel then I had hoped to be (If I had received a visual with no delay)!

To me this crew is the equivalent of an 85 yr old lady doing 70 km/h on a German highway!

Perhaps SOMETIMES automation can save fuel, but this crew certainly missed a great opportunity to use some airmanship to save fuel, time and money!

Of course one should have some airmanship before being able to use it!

Last edited by sabenaboy; 2nd Aug 2013 at 12:25. Reason: spelling
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