View Full Version : Autopilot on MEL

S. Dumont
20th Oct 2003, 04:34
I am writing a paper on Cockpit Automation and I would like to know if some of you could help me.

I would like to know if the event of all autopilots INOP are 'no-go' items on today's commercial aircraft (737, A320, 767..) MEL (Minimum Equipment List)? Can the aircraft be dispatched without the AP, even for short-range flights (non-RVSM flights)?

Thanks a lot in advance.

20th Oct 2003, 08:50
I haven't looked at our 747-400 MEL's recently, but 2 out of 3 A/P's were required to be operative. I can't tell you if our airline's 744 MEL is the exception or the norm, however.


Golden Rivet
20th Oct 2003, 09:42
Yes- the aircraft may be dispatched with all autopilots u/s, buts its highly unlikely/unusual.

According to both 757/767 Boeing DDG's

Except for ER operations, all may be inoperative provided:

c) Enroute operations and approach minimums do not require their use, and

d) Number of flight segments and segment duration is acceptable to flight crew.

Max Angle
20th Oct 2003, 21:19
Also required nowadays for flight in RVSM airspace.

20th Oct 2003, 22:38
What amazes me is when I see pilots scared of flying with the autopilot inoperative. :p

20th Oct 2003, 22:45
Interesting question. In the event of this situation, might we down the back find that the cruise becomes slightly less smooth? I say slightly so as not to give offence! But my guess is that the AP smooths bumps and yaw from wind in a gentle manner. (Now I'll be in trouble from those who remember cruise as it used to be when driving Imperial flying boats to Cape Town.)

Jet II
20th Oct 2003, 23:46

What amazes me is when I see pilots scared of flying with the autopilot inoperative.

Reminds me of several years ago - got called to the flight deck on the Queen of the Skies (DC10 for the youngsters) just before departure and all autopilot systems dead.

As there were two extra flight crew on this sector I suggested fly it manually back to base - the look of horror on the assembled faces was something to behold.:D

Needless to say we cancelled the flight and everyone stayed an extra night in the Hilton:p

21st Oct 2003, 04:12
Twenty years ago I did London to Los Angeles in a DC-10-30 (single crew) without an autopilot and I don't remember it being much of a problem. The weather was good at both ends and the situation kept at least one of us from getting bored.

The lack of an autopilot is not an MEL no-go item on my present aircraft and I recently did a 4-sector duty without one.

Both events were unusual in this day and age but it is quite nice to know that I can still fly as well as I did donkey's years ago before such nice things were invented. Mind you, I tend to hand-fly below 20,000 ft anyway unless the weather is crap.

"If in doubt, trim to 90 kts and pick a field".

25th Oct 2003, 09:09
My company MEL/DDG says it is dispatch-able without A/P, however some OP (operation procedure) there for me to reject to fly the plane.

It's my butt up there !!

25th Oct 2003, 10:35
Unlike Golden Rivet, our DDG for the B767 requires at least 2 (out of 3) of the autopilots to be servicable........different airlines different requirements I suppose.

As far as A320 aircraft are concerned, bus people may correct me here, I don't think you can dispatch without an autopilot as it/they are always engaged, even when using the side stick.

25th Oct 2003, 17:28
There are a lot of misconceptions about the A320 family of Airbus..... and I'm afraid this is just another one.

The Aircraft is 'hand-flown' regularly by pilots all around the world, there are two autopilots, and may be engaged at the pilots will.

The aircraft may be dispatched without any functioning a-pilot.

Roger Miller.

29th Oct 2003, 13:28
Don't forget that for many aircraft, the both the Mach Trim and Yaw Damper reside within the Autopilot (aka Flight Control Computer or Flight Guidance Computer - two of which are the norm on most non-CAT III aircraft). Some aircraft can not dispatch without at least one Yaw Damper operative or, if they can dispatch, the limiting IAS essentially prevents normal operation. Similar limiting performance can also be true for the lack of Mach Trim.

31st Oct 2003, 01:09
Last weekend, I was chatting with the back seater of a Tornado and a-pilots came up, so I mentioned this thread.

He said that he and his pilot had recently spent a couple of days with an AWACS crew, to see their side of the picture. They stooged around for many hours, mostly on a-p, and were able to observe all the crew at their posts.

When the time came for placing wheels upon the ground, the bod in the RHS said that he was so tired he was going to use auto-land. Apparently, the Tornado pilot was disgusted and ready to deck him!

(for overseas' readers, it means to punch him so hard that he will fall to the deck)

Captain Stable
31st Oct 2003, 16:10
145qrh, please do not repreat your last post or it will be your last on this forum.

1st Nov 2003, 02:02
Sorry capt STABLE


2nd Nov 2003, 17:02
Taken from the MEL of a well known SE Asian airline who have operated up to fifty B747-400 aircraft:

For Category III operations all three must be operative.

For Category II operations one may be inoperative provided several engineering requirements are met, mainly concerned with pulling and collaring the inoperative FCC's FCCServo CBs, OR

To despatch with one or more inoperative (and that can be all three inoperative) then flight time must not exceed 3 hours and the aircraft can only be operated to Cat I limits, also inoperative FCC's FCC Servo CBs have to be pulled and collared.