View Full Version : Monitored Approach

bleeds off
2nd Jun 2006, 13:27
Hi there!

What does this type of approach consist in ?
Thx before hand

bleeds off

Chief Whip
2nd Jun 2006, 14:38
Capt will fly the Take off, climb and cruise. Approaching top of descent he will hand overcontrol to the F/o who then flies the descent and approach to decision height. Then the Capt takes control for the landing. On sector 2 the roles are reversed.

It was invented by BA to stop rushed and unstable approaches. You will find mixed views on its benefits in todays modern cockpit but it does work well in low Vis approaches.

2nd Jun 2006, 15:03
Does anyone know of any other carriers other than BA who use this system? It seems like an interesting method.

Also meant to ask; how do those who have operated with the monitored approach system view it in comparison to operating the entire sector as PF?

bleeds off
2nd Jun 2006, 16:13
Sounds strange to me. :confused:
What would be then the real added value of the controls hand over to the other crew member with regards to safety ?

bleeds off

2nd Jun 2006, 16:20
I think it's the case that the guy flying the approach would fly a go-around if necessary, the other guy would just do the landing. So the approach-flyer can concentrate on the missed approach procedure.


2nd Jun 2006, 16:31
The Monitored Approach concept was developed primarily by BA (BEA) in conjunction with BLEU at RAE Bedford for all weather operations on BAC1-11 and Trident aircraft.

The principle for approaches required one pilot to be head down and ‘fly’ the aircraft (generally via the autopilot), and the other to monitor the operation, but be head up for the decision and landing.
The head up pilot looks up at about 100ft above DH to seek visual cues for a landing decision. The head down pilot would announce ‘xx ft above’ (decision height) alerting the head up pilot, who would reply ‘land’ if the conditions were suitable. If there was no return call (land) or a go around instruction then the head down pilot flew a go-around.
If a system failed or there was an ILS deviation before a land decision, then the head down pilot would fly a go-around.

After a ‘land’ call, the head up pilot would either continue to monitor the landing visually or if there was a failure after decision altitude, fly a go around. Thus, there was a change of control at the point of deciding. Some operators also used a hand tap on the thrust levers to reinforce the ‘land’ call and the change of control; this was very effective in busy ATC environments where crew calls could be masked.

The procedure reduced human error of ‘press-on-itis’ or ‘lets have a look’ during low visibility operations. It can also be used during NPAs. Primarily it reduced the decision maker’s workload whilst maintaining good monitoring. For experienced crews it also enabled first officers to be the head up pilot and gain more experience in low visibilities; each sector could be flow turn and turn about.
The principle of the procedure was adopted by many European operators, but not in the USA due to the then ‘P1’ biased operating technique (some would argue otherwise, but their monitored approach was still P1 led). In recent years, the procedure has been adapted to suit more modern atutoland designs, HUD, etc, and lower Cat 3 minima.

IIRC, B Cal and Dan Air used the monitored approach, and possibly Brittania, but I don’t know what the current procedures are.
The principle of the procedure is sound and safe, but to some extent relies on good training, experience, and discipline. There is a very good paper continuing some the conceptual ideas and proposals for current operations -
Eliminating "cockpit-caused" accidents: Error-tolerant Crew Procedures for the Year 2000 (http://s92270093.onlinehome.us/CRM-Devel/resources/paper/last/last.htm)

bleeds off
3rd Jun 2006, 00:33
As a matter of fact, it is a way to enable P2 to be the one who makes the decision :D (landing or not...) when he is PF on the leg.
Am I right ?
If so, how about P2 first flight in the real world in real very low visibility conditions ? Is he (she) immediatly entrusted with such a reponsibility ?

bleeds off
Thx alf5071h

3rd Jun 2006, 13:42

Thanks for the link, very interesting read particularly the section on the typical CFIT disaster.

3rd Jun 2006, 23:28
Bleeds, in the airline in question, only the Captain can do a Cat3 landing, and he takes over at 1000' for either a 50', 20' or zero Decision Height. I can't recall the exact limits for a copilot to practice an approach, whether it's something like 500m vis or Cat2 limits.
I think it works quite well. The copilot flies from TOD to approach down to 1000', the Captain takes over having briefed himself at leisure on the go-around and decides at DH (called by copilot) whether to land or GA and carries it out, and hands back over to the copilot after the GA in the circuit to collect himself to do it again. In bad weather it works superbly, and prevents one guy getting overloaded doing it all himself, and maybe flying a GA after an extended complicated approach and forgetting some detail of the GA. It also shares some of the flying each sector. It works, and can't be knocked. The other way that works is one person flying the whole thing. I think it is short sighted to criticise one or the other, especially when not fully understanding how it works.
Finally, having flown both ways for years, I'd say in bad weather approaches, give me Monitored Approach always- it's excellent. In good weather, it doesn't matter- either will do.

ltn and beyond
4th Jun 2006, 00:34
A monitered approach is a fantastic tool for low vis conditions where the approach is flown normally by the F/O in Cat 3's and autolands or by either the Capt or the F/O in a Cat 2.
The whole idea is that the whole approach and a go arround is the focus of the pilot flying(PF), and the PNF "moniters" his action to decision height where the PNF is looking for the required visual reference to land, a instant call of Land or Go arround can therefore be made by PF when PNF calls decide,and controls are instantly handed over if landing. Hence why the capt is normally PNF.
Im sure this is how most commercial aircraft fly low vis approaches, whether they call it a monitered approach or not !!!:ok:

9th Jun 2006, 03:36
The monitored approach comes in many different versions. However, all have the same essential element in that one pilot flies the aircraft (with the automatics) and the other monitors both the flight path and the outside view, especially approaching DA/DH. It was originally developed by BA ans has since been copied by companies worldwide in various guises.

Whether this involves the FO flying the a/c and the Captain doing the landing (usually an autoland but not necessarily so) or vice versa, doesn't much matter. It's simply THE outstanding manner in which to conduct an approach to minimums regardless of whether it's CAT 1 or Cat 111 or even a Non-Precision Approach. Inh fact I would venture to suggest that the NPA to minimums is the one where it's probably most needed.

Lots of pilots have rubbished this method over the years without trying it out to see just how well it works and how much it adds to safety near the ground when the weather is lousy. Sure, some companies have gone overborad and made it unnecessarily complicated but that doesn't negate the value. However, as stated earlier by another poster, it does require good training and, most of all, good flight deck discipline. I just wish we had it in my current outfit.

9th Jun 2006, 10:22
Is it possible to operate with the CPT as "head-down" and the F/O as "head-up"?? Any airline use this technique??

10th Jun 2006, 23:37
Speaking as one who was first trained in this some 35 years ago there is a further aspect which hasn't been mentioned.

Nowadays with GPS and sophisticated autopilots, flying the approach is relatively straight-forwards, but in the days when it required rather more concentration it was all to easy for PF to forget about anticing, fuel states, QNH/QFE, crosswind, clearance to land, etc.

The monitored approach allowed the co-pilot to fly the A/C whilst the Captain did what he was paid for, i.e to take an overall view of the operation.

At decision height he either said "Go Around" in which case the co-pilot did that, whlilst he monitored, or "Land" in which case he was looking outside whilst the A/P landed the A/C.

At the time it worked well and allowed BA and others to get clearance for CAt3 autoland.

Whether it is still the "Gold Standard" is open to debate but at the time it worked well.

10th Jun 2006, 23:43
The Monitored Approach concept was developed primarily by BA (BEA)

Well, just to give you a bit of perspective that there's nothing new under the sun, let me tell you about a captain I flew with 30+ years ago.

He was flying as captain on a Ford Trimotor for Cubana. He told me he ALWAYS had the copilot ( that's what they were rightly called before "politically correct" took over the world ) fly the low approaches because it freed him up to look out the windshield and fulfill his command responsibility of deciding whether the flight should continue to landing under exisiting conditions.

This was in the 1940's. Some people just see what others overlook.

11th Jun 2006, 02:00
A properly flown monitored approach is the lowest stress way possible to get through difficult conditions of any sort. When you've got 3 amazing autoplits (or even just one as we once used for Cat 3 on the MD-80), it is a waste of the Captains talents for him to be PF. You can watch whats happening so much better in a monitored approach. Try it if you haven't yet.

11th Jun 2006, 12:22
The monitored approach is also good during non-normal situations as it gives the captain the chance to sit back and take an overview of events and in many instances, the captain will have to do the landing anyway due to technical limitations.

Having used this system on BAC1-11s in LVP conditions and having several Cat111 autolands on this type, I can see where BA were coming from, but to apply its use to all approaches is pointless.

How does one cater for a circling or visual approach, or a late landing clearance after MDA/DA?, I know of situations where missed approaches have been flown solely due to over zealous adherence to SOPs leading to nasty conflictions between traffic departing and traffic going around simply because the PF has not heard the magic word "land" by DA (in one instance because the captain was still replying to his landing clearance!!).

I've also seen too many PFs struggling away in VS mode all the way to MDA on a non precision approach while the PNF sits and waits for the "decision" call having had the RWY in sight for the last 10 miles!!:ugh:

I have come to the conclusion that it should be the captain's decision whether a monitored approach should be flown as he/she is in the best place to make that judgement and it should not be imposed by companies.

Companies that impose monitored approach procedures to be flown for every approach might equally decree that left rudder only may be used in the event of an engine failure to eliminate the risk of using the wrong rudder. It would apply the same logic!

11th Jun 2006, 13:18
FR are using monitored approaches (Cat 1 ILS and NP) when the weather is marginal. F/O always fly's the approach, Capt calls land or G/A. Capt fly's the landing. Very similar to Cat II/IIIa procedures. Works well.

11th Jun 2006, 13:20
Hec7or- You're not reading the above! The PF flies to TOD, hands over. The other pilot flies Descent down to 1000', with the luxury to brief himself on the final approach and go-around. He takes over at 1000' announces what he is doing 'Manland/Autoland xxx' Baro/Radio', and flies down to limits or visual, called by PNF, and go around or lands. If Go-around, somestage after ATOC, hands over to PNF to handle while he rebriefs himself to take over again at 1000'. Circling and visual approaches are no problem, the PF can take over when he likes- all it takes is 'I have control!' He can then fly the circuit he has been quietly planning to himself in his 'breather' time.

The chief criticism people make, without understanding how it works, usually runs along the lines of 'taking over an out of trim aircraft at DH.......Hahaha'- which doesn't happen. It has its advantages- both pilots always share some flying each leg- it shares the workload and resources better, especially in bad weather. It does work well. But as I said, there are many ways to skin a cat, and you can argue a long time over a few drinks and not really be able to fault either system. But if you are caught in several go-arounds on a poor day, believe me it works far, far better!

11th Jun 2006, 17:13
My post wasn't conjecture, just a reflection on what I've observed, and while you point out the obvious benefits of the system, there are some traps which lie in wait for the inexperienced or poorly trained in employing a "one size fits all" SOP.

I'm not suggesting it is not an excellent system, provided the P1 for the sector (ie..the landing pilot) knows precisely at what point he should take control. I've been handed control at 1000' radio in IMC in marginal Cat 1 by an inexperienced FO despite the company requirement for the FO to fly the approach to minimums or until I say "I have control" or "land".

At the other end of the scale I've had to go around from below minimums because the FO has screwed up the last 200' because he waited till "decide" to take control and did not get the feel of the aircraft - applying a huge handful of thrust immediately after taking control and getting hugely out of shape.

Surely the only difference between a monitored approach and a "normal" approach is that there is a transfer of control from one pilot to another and in some circumstances this just serves to add an element of confusion or doubt to the inexperienced or the poorly trained.

I stand by what I say.

11th Jun 2006, 19:36
Look it's not an argument. Just trying to point out the usual off the cuff criticisms people make aren't really valid. I too don't like the idea of swapping control at DH, especially as that may not be 200'. It could be 100', 50' or even 20', or 0'! It's a no-no. The best way is to swap at 1000', announce what's happening, and the PNF can compose himself for the calls required, and breathe a sigh because he's flown the descent and approach, and will take over again after the After Take-off check in a Go-around.

I don't think the inexperienced or poorly trained should be sitting there in bad weather approaches. The Passengers deserve better! But all that happens is a single swapping of control prior to the high pressure buildup. If a pilot can't hack that, something is wrong with the airline. The BA way works best- 1000', not at DH! It works, and works better, IMO, but whether it is that much better that it makes it worth having to train everybody to the new way is the point open to discussion.

11th Jun 2006, 23:05
I always thought, from the position of never having used the system, that the whole point was that the person flying the approach head down was going to go around. This is meant to remove the problems associated with transitioning from IF to visual in marginal conditions, and also to avoid the inadvertent minimum bust caused by the "but I must be able to see the lights now" factor as you continue decending. So approacing DH the monitoring pilot is (relatively) free to look out for the visual reference and if visual at the DH takes over to land. If (s)he is not visual, or if they've just had a heart attack and don't respond then the flying pilot does it just like in the sim and goes around. It sounds remarkably sensible and ought to be straightforward as long as everyone knows what to expect.
Rainboe, I think that in the context of airline ops your comment about "inexperienced and poorly trained pilots" is farcical. They almost certainly have less experience than the captain; at what point do they cease being "inexperienced" - in most airlines' seniority based system people are capable of being captains long before they ever get their command. And again most airlines training systems are pretty thorough - even Ryanair don't skimp on what they do, they just get other people to pay for it! Having said all that, in reality when flying with an inexperienced/ poorly trained fo (as happens quite frequently in the corporate world), by far the best way to operate is to get them to fly the aeroplane, leaving the captain to manage the flight effectively while giving them a great sense of satisfaction!

12th Jun 2006, 10:02
I was responding to hec7or's comment <<I've been handed control at 1000' radio in IMC in marginal Cat 1 by an inexperienced FO despite the company requirement for the FO to fly the approach to minimums or until I say "I have control" or "land".>> where someone evidently should not have been doing what was required of them. Operating in these conditions is not for such people.

For the reasons stated where we can look to DHs far lower than 200', maybe even 50', the days of swapping control at DH are gone- it's dangerous. There is no advantage with taking control at DH, even at 200'. What do you suggest for a DH of 50', 20'? You will probably only have seen approach lights and a bit of runway (you have been monitoring outside as well as concentrating on RA). If you then take over, you are probably less aware of attitude than the handler. If you then take over low down, you are more likely than the other guy to start changing pitch according to visual conditions and falling into the sudden visual trap of lowering the nose. You are far more likely to make a porridge of it. It is better that the handler from 1000' keeps it and starts looking up, but holds the attitude exactly (he has been flying it to that attitude and knows it).

I think the BA way (and many other airlines now), works best, in bad weather undoubtedly. My current procedures are not to do it- but that's fine- I'm happy doing either way.

12th Jun 2006, 11:49
I have to agree with BizJetJock and cannot understand where Rainboe is coming from on this and another (monitored approach) related thread. I don't have CAT III experience but have many years experience of CAT II, CAT I and NP monitored approaches.
In my experience FO has always flown approach to DH/DA etc., and has executed a GA if no 'LAND' call from CAPT. A 'LAND' call means 'I have control to land (or GA if something subsequently arises to preclude landing safely). It is a system which is easy to train and works very well in practice.
Any approach below CAT I minima will always be auto-coupled so there should never be a 'hand-over of control from one pilot to another', merely the disengagement of AP (nicely trimmed a/c one would hope) by the designated pilot (experienced CAPT hopefully).
The idea of a CAPT monitoring inside and out from 1000ft down to DA, looking up, deciding and then landing from 100 ft atd or less is frightening and certainly NOT a monitored approach. I can, however, see that this could and should be a requirement for an auto-land approach.
Rainboe, I don't know what BA's CAT III training comprises but, unless it specifically incudes a great deal of CAT II training, there should never be a reversion from CAT III auto-land to CAT II manual land and certainly not with a defective AP and incapacitated pilot.

12th Jun 2006, 14:01
Yes, the old way of monitored approaches had to be changed as the limits lowered- it was no longer practical to swap pilot control at DH. Cat2 & 3 approaches now are all autocoupled. I don't see what problem you find with the rest? Especially in the context of 2 pilots flying a bad weather approach with autopilots dual/triple engaged for an autoland. What difference does it make. All we are talking about is a role change at 1000' and another role change at a safe time after a go-around. Any problems you are finding apply just a much with the traditional 'one man band' system (an overloaded 'one man' at that).

TOGA Descent
16th Jun 2006, 15:04
Does anyone know of any other carriers other than BA who use this system? It seems like an interesting method.
Also meant to ask; how do those who have operated with the monitored approach system view it in comparison to operating the entire sector as PF?

Who else uses the Captain Monitored Approach System? Jetblue

19th Jun 2006, 10:56
Also meant to ask; how do those who have operated with the monitored approach system view it in comparison to operating the entire sector as PF?

Having operated the "monitored approach" system for 12 yrs I have seen just as many pitfalls with it as it has advantages, for instance, as well as introducing a handover of control from one pilot to another in the late stages of an approach, and you can view the merits of that how you like, you also have a "handover" from one AP/FD channel to the other when the switch is flicked and I've had a couple of excursions from stable flight simply due to swapping over the AP.
I've also seen several instances of the Captain/P1 taking too much advantage of being able to hand the flying to the P2 in order to manage minor pax or technical issues and by spending too much time "out of the loop" has got completely disorientated and lost situational awareness. With the other system you have to prioritise and "aviate, navigate, communicate" without allowing yourself to lose SA, in fact as soon as the other pilot takes the R/T as well as the flying, you become a passenger.

A couple of weeks ago I had a technical problem which required an expeditious return to where we'd just left and we managed to accomplish this quite efficiently without any transfer of control from one pilot to the other because it simply wasn't necessary and I didn't feel at any stage that a handover of control would have helped in any way at all.

While it may be nice sometimes to be able to delegate the flying to the other pilot when busy with other things, I would rather choose to do this only when necessary and even then with caution.
I've seen too many cock ups with the monitored approach system so I don't have a particularly high opinion of it. In fact I view it as an invitation to the unwary to get out of the loop and get overloaded simply because you've delegated the "aviate, navigate" bit of the equation to someone else and workload management is more difficult to achieve.