View Full Version : CAT II/III Autoland - who does what?

2nd May 2002, 01:22
For those of you that do CAT II/III Autopilot (not using HUD) to either landing or G/A – who does what?

- Does either the F/O or Capt always fly the approach – landing – both?
- Does the non-flying pilot transition to make the landing while the pilot who flew the approach make a G/A unless the field is in sight?
- Who does the call outs during the approach – the flying pilot or the non-flying pilot? Is this different than your CAT I callout procedures?

Again – this is only for a full autopilot procedure – regardless of the references to who is the flying/non-flying pilot.

Finally – what are your opinions of the procedures you fly – do they work well – need an overhaul – some tweaking?

Thanks for your ideas and opinions,


Hand Solo
2nd May 2002, 03:00
In BA on the Airbus the P2 flies the approach and the Captain takes control at 1000R. P2 then monitors aircraft performance and approach guidance, Captain is 'heads out' looking for necessary visual clues ready to perform landing. Seems to work very well, never had a problem yet (apart from some interesting Airbus autolands).

2nd May 2002, 17:07
AWOPs, FO flies approach down to DA, when FO calls "decide". Capt either calls "go around", or "land", which he then allows it do,and takes control.In the GA case the FO retains control and flies it.
All other approaches P2 flies the approach and P1 lands it, when he is happy with the visual references available. This is usually done at 1000' radio call to which P1 usually says "visual, I have control". However if P1 has really good eyesight, and its a nice day, he can call visual at any point in the descent!
Confusing innit?!:rolleyes:

2nd May 2002, 23:30
Now then, if we ignore the British way of doing things....
Captain (and autopilot) fly the aeroplane, co-pilot looks outside for visual cues....autopilot lands aeroplane.
Seems to work quite nicely, thank you very much.
The business of...handing over at DH is a lot of nonsense, IMHO.:rolleyes:

Young Paul
2nd May 2002, 23:43
!!! On both B737 and A320, autoland is a captain's (LHS) landing. At 100' above decision, captain looks out, f/o continues to monitor. Captain makes decision and calls it. Hopefully remembers to take out autopilot before taxying.

For Cat IIIB, there are no calls after "Land Green" at 400' RA. You go around for the big red flashing light. Otherwise you land! Coool!

On the airbus, you have to pull back the thrust levers to land. With autothrottle on the B737, you don't. So in terms of autolands, the B737 is more automatic than the airbus. But then it doesn't have IIIB.

3rd May 2002, 00:03

I have just realised why I dislike your posts so much. It is not so much the fact that you have a different opinion it the arrogant, unpleasant way in which you express that opinion.

You say that the captain + autopilot flys the aeroplane and the co-pilot looks out. So the man with his hands on the controls (coupled to the autopilot) decides to land because the co-pilot says that he (the captain) has enough visual clues? I am sure that I prefer to make my own decision and have my co-pilot concentrate SOLELY on monitoring the autopilot.

More than one way to skin a cat and contrary to your apparent assumption some of us have had experience of those different ways too. I don't assume that because other airlines have different ideas that they are necessarily wrong, just different.

Incidentally wasn't it the British who pioneered autoland and by default safe operating procedures at the same time?

Young Paul
3rd May 2002, 00:06
Well, I have to say I can't see much advantage to handing over at DH either ......

brit bus driver
3rd May 2002, 03:37
RS pilot flies the approach to DH/Alert Height. LS pilot takes control/orders the GA at minima/AH. RS continues to monitor the autoland, calling FMA changes or failures.

Must say, 411A, it seems to work for us, and not a British operation either....

Out of interest, how in depth do you all brief a Cat III?


The man formerly known as
3rd May 2002, 08:56
Hand Solo,

You can't leave us hanging with a teaser like that. Tell us more about the interesting airbus autolands.

3rd May 2002, 19:17
The Boeing Flt Trng Manual (B-737-700) has very little in the way of gudance concerning flying a CAT II/III Approach. Using that input alone - it would appear that they suggest that these Approaches be flown by either pilot and that the pilot flying remains the pilot flying throughout landing or go-around (understanding that the A/C is likely on autopilot).

After reading the replies in this thread, it appears that almost all carriers divide the tasks so that either the Captain or F/O always do the Approach and if necessary go-around (most the F/O it appears) and the other pilot/seat, always does the landing.

Is there any Operation out there that uses the "either pilot and that pilot carries through with either landing or go-around?"

Again - this pertains strictly to CAT II/III flown entirely on the autopilot.

I'd like to add one more request - as I originally said - how do you feel about the procedures your doing - I'd like to know the reasons that you think they are good/bad - i.e. - that the Captain taking over to land after going heads up for a while gives him more time to transition to visual cues when the transition time would be reduced on CAT II/III Approaches - just an example - not trying to put words in anyone’s mouths.

I appreciate all of your input - this has been an informative and sometimes "lively" thread.

Thanks again - Pettigram

3rd May 2002, 19:35
Plus ca change
The friendly ( I hope ) banter between Slickster and 411A reminds me of a typical dinner party in the '60s & '70s. A group of pilots and wives would be making polite conversation, when one of the guys would bring up this subject. The boys had all been to Hamble or Oxford, and at the end of their training been allocated to either BEA ( back every afternoon ) or BOAC. The Trident boys operated to Cat III using a monitored approach system as described by Slickster, whilst BOAC, who weren't too interested in foggy landings, operated to higher limits using the 'one man band' system. I well remember one wife finally cracking, and putting an end to this debate by saying:
" It's always happens - why do we always have to have the same argument - who cares about monotonous apocrypha or whatever it is you're talking about"
I've had experience of both systems ( about 15 years of each ) and my vote goes to Slickster - it just seem the better way of using the crew resources sensibly.

4th May 2002, 00:09
When PETIGRAM asked the question to start this off he/she excluded the situation where you use a HUD. As someone would doesn't have a HUD, can I ask whether your procedures vary when you either have a HUD fitted( in which case who would make the decision call as per Slicksters case) or the HUD goes U/S either before or during the approach?


5th May 2002, 21:00
Well I too have often wondered about this (for me!) strange way the British seem to go about it. (Not meaning to insult anyone!). It just seems complicated.
In my company you fly the approach in the exact same manner procedurewise and call-out wise whether it is CAT I, II or III. The only difference is that only the commander flies CAT II & III. PF looks out at Minima and PNF looks in........

Liquid Lunch
5th May 2002, 23:08
I'm new to autolands etc and am I right in thinking judging by what’s been written that at BA and similar airlines P2 RHS never lands the plane whether CATl/ll/lll approach ?



6th May 2002, 00:24
Well, considering that THEY will tell you that THEIR training is the best ever.....I guess they don't trust the First Officer to do.....anything.

7th May 2002, 11:21
Maybe the real reason is the UK captain has "Full legal liability to the extent of his worldwide wealth" if it all goes wrong.

Therefore the captain must call the Land and V1 decisions to fully lock in his and the insurance companies liability beyond any legal doubt.

No one cares who or what actually lands the aircraft as long as the fall guy who is going to pay made the recorded calls and the insurance companies are locked in and the claims unavoidable.

7th May 2002, 17:37
Liquid Lunch

To prevent yet more erroneous information becoming fact, First Officers cannot land in CAT 2/3 conditions. They can land in CAT 1 or greater but are limited to 2/3rds of the aircraft wind limitations.


Once again a typical comment that shows nothing except your own ignorance.


You said 'Therefore the captain must call the Land and V1 decisions to fully lock in his and the insurance companies liability beyond any legal doubt'

In BA First Officers can call stop in some clearly defined situations and also call land or go-around when intending to land the aircraft in anything above CAT 2 or 3 conditions.

I don't understand your statement.

Edited for spilling.

Liquid Lunch
7th May 2002, 18:48

Thanks for the reply, I'm new to CATl/ll/lll SOPs.


8th May 2002, 21:57

although you got me cross on another thread, I am absolutely with you here.

young paul

you know not of which you speak.


9th May 2002, 08:51
Cat II/III aproaches as flown on the Airbus FBW at I used to do them at both Sabena and now Air Lib:

-) First officer is Pilot Flying from top of descent till DH on RA.

-) F/O looks inside all the time.

-) Captain as well but as from DH + 200 starts looking outside.

-) then the call out 'minimums' is made by the plane.

-) Captain calls out 'go-around' and the F/O flies the go-around through the autopilot (i.e: clicks the toga button) or captain calls out 'landing' and takes over controls (i.e puts his hand on the throttle and closes them) to land the plane.

9th May 2002, 08:57
I have an interesting sub-question:

Cat III approaches MUST ALWAYS culminate in an autoland.

However, what does your training department want you to do on a Cat II approach?
Do you keep the autopilot in for the landing if you have sufficient visual clues at the Cat II minima or does your company want you to actually disconnect and land the plane by hand?
At both Sabena and Air Lib we opt(ed) for the first solution, so that a Cat II approach is in no way different from a cat III approach (apart from the higher minima).

9th May 2002, 11:59
If the autopilot disconnected at low altitude, ie in the flare, on a cat3 if the captain feels he has sufficient visual references he could legally continue with and conduct a manual landing.

We were required to practice this in the sim on cat2/3 rateing renewals and had been well trained to do this by BA during our original low vis. training.

M.Mouse, sorry if I confuse you, I generally reserve that for myself.
IMHO.. if the fo calls it and he actions it and it all goes wrong, the captains defence could be I did not call it, he did, and he did it, not me. I would have done differently, however it was all to late to correct, very sorry your aircraft is bent and passengers have died, and you are forced now to liquidate, etc.etc. I'll get my coat and ticket outa here. humm..Bye the way any chance of a reference?

Some years ago in the overrun area of RW28 Delhi I saw the remains of a brand new 747 which failed to stop on the runway after it was said the FO called and actioned a rejected takeoff.
The Fo it was said had observed a high EGT on an engine, called it and simultaniously carried out the rejected takeoff drills, all unasked for.
However he failed to hit the brakes hard enough to stop on the runway.
I imagine the captain sighed, and did a P.A. saying the French equivalent of Evacuate, and then "See you next thursday" to the hair trigger FO.

It is the responsibility without the authority that is the Catch 22. This is seen by some as very unfair to the captains.

Please correct me if I am wrong... but is not the designated flight Captain when asleep in his bunk still legally liable for the safety of the flight, and the actions of his cruise crew?
Legal but unfair?

IMHO Only when the captain calls it, and it is done on his command does it fully lock in his and the insurance companies liabilities beyond doubt.
There is then no defence, this thankfully only occurs when it all goes seriously legal, as money is involved.

If the captain calls missed approach, elects to hand fly himself, and flys it into the ground, a hill, or the sea, it locks in the insurance companies and the next of kin have a cast iron large claim against the captain and the company.

If pilots were fully aware of their full financial and legal liability if they made a serious mistake, and it involved damage or deaths they would demand many times their present saleries or simply never upgrade to captain without insurance cover for these liabilities.
Probably the more enlightened pilots aware of the above spend their hard earned cash on lots of lovely girls, loads of beer,party, smoke, and bet on the horses, the rest they basically waste.

Young Paul
9th May 2002, 13:36
To be honest, any way of doing something is probably fine, as long as it is practiced properly.

However, on the airbus operation we use, the RHS is allowed to do everything other than land in Cat III, command an aborted take off and park the aircraft. When the aircraft is due to be parked, the RHS (if PF) will get off the brakes and neutralise the tiller before handing over control - in other words, the LHS is given control of an aircraft that is not receiving control inputs.

With a monitored approach, at DH, PNF (having visual references) is expected to take over control of an aircraft that might have (at that moment) control inputs, might be out of trim, might be in a less than ideal position for the landing. On the airbus, with sidestick, there is no feedback as to any input that might be being made by PF (assuming he is flying the aircraft, and not the autopilot), which places the taking-over pilot at an additional disadvantage. Or if the autopilot is always left in until DH, and only taken out by the landing pilot, then how do the pilots get any practice of hand flying on the line?

Of course it would work if people are trained properly. It just seems a bit of a faff.

9th May 2002, 14:56

Thank you for your thought provoking clarification.

If the FO called stop in accordance with SOPs (my company's that is) the Captain is generally not in a position to countermand that call if for example the FO was PF and had closed the thrust levers already.

At the subsequent inquiry would I be responsible for my FO operating to SOPs but making a big mistake that led to an overrun and which I was in no position to stop, for example?

You also allude to financial liability. Are you aware of situations where a Captain has been found personally finacially liable for the consequences an accident/incident happening to an aeroplane under his command? I had always assumed that my employer's insurance would carry the can or am I being naive?

9th May 2002, 17:11
autopilot flies, capt& f.o. monitor, approaching decision ht call, capt includes uotside in his/her scan...f.o. monitors..calls asa/or mode failures as applicable

9th May 2002, 22:56
Here's what UAL does:

F/O minimums only allow for approach to CAT I minimums to be flown by F/Os.
On all autolands the Captain is the flying pilot, no matter what the actual weather/ visiblilty.
A little correction to what Young Paul said:
The A320 , during autoland, actually automatically reduces thrust to idle, but the pilot is required to move the throttle levers to the idle position, because the levers don't move automatically on the Airbus.
If you leave them in the CL detent( where they usually are in this situation) , you will get idle thrust but the spoilers won't extend and the autobrakes therefore won't work either.

Danish Pilot
10th May 2002, 07:47
Agree with 411a and Oscar Yanke on this one. To me it looks like most of us is makeing this into a very complicated thing, this low vis flying. The plane will fly in the exact same way in a catIII app, as in a catI. There is no magic "catIII button" that all of the sudden converts the plane in into a complicated machinery.

To me the "handling over controls" in DH:( is a mixup of the pilots roles in a low altitude = not good.

Young Paul
10th May 2002, 10:08
Yes, but the difference is that it is a lot more critical and harder to recover if something goes wrong with the autopilot at 100' than at 300'. That's why lo-vis receives such a high level of special instruction in normal training and command training.

10th May 2002, 16:41
The aircraft Commander carries the ultimate responsibility...not the company. Lawyers however will go after the deep pockets every time.

10th May 2002, 16:56
Come on now xxxxxxxxxxxx...

The man asked a reasonable question. If you talk the talk, walk the walk. Let's have all the accident details please.

Edited by PPRuNe Dispatcher to remove what may be a user's real name. Revealing someone else's identity is grounds for banning.:mad:

11th May 2002, 21:32
We used to to do this kind of approach ('monitored') at UAL on equipment like the Diesel 10 down to CAT II.
It worked for all those years it was done that way, but not anymore.
Seems weird to have the F/O flying down to mins and then have the Captain take over, but from the Captains perspective, there's probably not much difference in either taking over from the autopilot or the F/O or F/O being the 'flying' pilot until DH while on the A/P. What do you think ?!