View Full Version : unreliable airspeed jet transport aircraft

sudden twang
9th Apr 2015, 13:24
Seems to me that this is a real problem area has anyone got any top tips on how to teach the recognition of this? Specifically the recognition as opposed to the recovery.

Many Thanks

cosmo kramer
9th Apr 2015, 15:31
737 QRH:
Condition: The pitch attitude is not consistent with the phase of flight, altitude, thrust and weight, or noise or low frequency buffeting is experienced.

And some snips from the 737 FCTM:
When the ram air inlet to the pitot head is blocked, pressure in the probe is released through the drain holes and the airspeed slowly drops to zero. If the ram air inlet and the probe drain holes are both blocked, pressure trapped within the system reacts unpredictably. The pressure may increase through expansion, decrease through contraction, or remain constant. In all cases, the airspeed indications would be abnormal. This could mean increasing indicated airspeed in climb, decreasing indicated airspeed in descent, or unpredictable indicated airspeed in cruise.
Hence, the two above leads to the following:

Early recognition of erroneous airspeed indications requires familiarity with the interrelationship of attitude, thrust setting, and airspeed.
..and this recommendation:

The flight crew should be familiar with the approximate pitch attitude for each flight manoeuvre... ...For example, climb performance is based on maintaining a particular airspeed or Mach number. This results in a specific body attitude that varies little with gross weight and altitude. Any significant change from the body attitude required to maintain a desired airspeed should alert the flight crew to a potential problem.

So know the relevant pitch/thrust values. That way it should be easy to recognise something askew.

sudden twang
9th Apr 2015, 16:44
Thanks CK,
Im not on the 737 but that is consistent with the other 5 types of Boeing that Im familiar with.

I have found that with most crews during refreshers that it takes some time for them to recognise that something is awry. This is backed up with investigations following events. There seems also to be an inordinate amount of time before the recommended pitch and power settings from the memory drill are adopted.

Just wondered if anyone had a top fix for this.

9th Apr 2015, 17:00
"Seems to me that this is a real problem area has anyone got any top tips on how to teach the recognition of this? Specifically the recognition as opposed to the recovery"

Not sure about that. The crew of AF 447 recognised the unreliable airspeed, but messed up everything that followed. They didn't follow the established procedures and flew a perfectly flyable plane into a stall - and the Atlantic.

9th Apr 2015, 20:22
A classic problem with this recognition is the "follow the flight director" drilling during training. Rather than that I teach "look through the flight director". Learning the basics is not now part of the teaching. The basic balanced triangle of 'IAS + ATT + Power' = performance. Is that equation correct? If the autopilot is in CMD then normally the FD is centred. This is a sucker. I teach stalls with FD is use: guess what, the cross of the FD is perfectly centred but at the wrong attitude for the normal phase of flight. It's an eye opener. I teach a lot of flying A/P NPA approaches without FD's to demonstrate they tell you very little. An NPA needs a good scan of the basic performance displays. Teach guys the basics and they will detect the problems. Sadly, not enough guys are drilled with this discipline.

sudden twang
10th Apr 2015, 18:20
I didn't want to bring AF447 into this it's been done here.
Thanks RAT 5 v helpful post and food for thought.

10th Apr 2015, 18:30
Very good post RAT5.

10th Apr 2015, 19:58
Also good to know approximate thrust lever angles (sorry Airbus pilots) and trim settings for cruise.

11th Apr 2015, 02:10
...good to know approximate thrust lever angles (sorry Airbus pilots)...
I'm a little confused by that - As I understand it, if autothrust is disengaged the FBW Airbus thrust levers work the "old-fashioned" way - I think the only difference between TLs on FBW Airbii and other types is that the Airbus A/THR doesn't physically move the TLs to match its settings, and other types' autothrottles do.

@sudden twang:
(Caveat : I'm a software engineer, not a professional pilot - but I've been aviation-mad from the crib, and have been around this forum long enough to pick up a few things. Apologies if this becomes a mini-essay, but I hope you'll find it interesting... )

So - Unreliable airspeed (or UAS). If I've understood things correctly from what I've read and been told over the years it's undoubtedly a potentially hazardous condition, but if handled correctly it's more of an annoyance than a major threat. If it occurs in-flight, the piloting mantra "Aviate, Navigate, Communicate" (in that order) is key - before doing anything else (including diagnosing the problem), you have to make sure your flightpath is relatively stable. In the case of the Airbus FBW types, the flight data computers will detect a discrepancy in airspeed readings and automatically disconnect autopilot.

If the flightpath was straight, level and more-or-less stable (e.g. in the cruise phase) at the time, then there's a good chance that little or no manual intervention will be necessary. However if a pilot is not sure, one thing you'll see repeatedly through the AF447 thread is a reference to the term "Pitch and Power". What this means is that in the event of losing airspeed information, the manufacturers provide a lookup table in the reference handbook which says that if the pilot sets a certain pitch attitude and thrust/power setting, then the aircraft will tend to maintain altitude and sufficient airspeed. The settings from the A330 handbook are below (note that the higher you go, the lesser the required pitch attitude):


Once the aircraft is as straight, level and as stable as possible (external factors like turbulence notwithstanding), then the crew can take the time to troubleshoot the issue. Most modern airliners will have flight data computers which are capable of determining which of the airspeed data sources is incorrect, otherwise it's a case of the crew comparing the airspeed instrument readings on the Captain's side, the FO's side and the standby and rejecting the one which is reading differently from the other two. In the event of ice crystal blockage, the problem will usually go away on its own in a short space of time.

The technical background to the issues leading up to AF447 was that the A330 was originally built and certified using pitot tubes (airspeed sensors) made by Goodrich, and in fact the standard fit was still using the Goodrich models at the time of AF447. I think it was in the late 1990s that Airbus gave customers the option of having pitot tubes made by Thales fitted instead, and AF was one of the customers who took up that option. While the Thales "AA" sensors met all the certification requirements, it became apparent on the line that they were more susceptible to ice crystal blockage than the Goodrich sensors. In fact it became apparent that in certain conditions it was possible for two, or even all three of the sensors to ice over, which was a very serious issue, as both automatic and manual UAS diagnostic procedures start with the assumption that only one reading is faulty. When this came to light, Thales revised the design and produced a new "AB" model sensor - and Airbus began a service programme intended to replace all AA models. I believe that the accident aircraft was due to have the fix performed around a month after the crash.

In any case, what's important to remember is that the UAS problem itself was not a major causal factor in the crash of AF447. In fact there were a little over 30 UAS incidents involving the A330 between the introduction of the Thales option and AF447 and all of them were resolved safely.

The above relates solely to a UAS condition once the aircraft is already in-flight. If you watch an flight deck video of an airliner taking off, you'll hear the non-handling pilot refer to the airspeed indicator coming alive, and making airspeed callouts as the aircraft accelerates. As I understand it, these callouts are cues for the handling pilot to glance down from the windscreen to check their own airspeed indicator and see if it matches. If it doesn't, then the takeoff should be rejected and the aircraft won't leave the ground.

That *should* have been the case with Birgenair Flight 301, a B757 chartered at short notice to replace an aircraft with technical problems - but for whatever reason, the Captain (as handling pilot) elected to continue the take-off and become airborne. Being a slightly earlier generation of aircraft, the B757's air data setup does not automatically compare the three inputs. The autopilot was configured to take air data readings from the Captain's side, and unfortunately it turned out to be the side suffering from faulty readings. By the time the crew realised that the autopilot was behaving strangely, the confusion and workload had increased to a point where they were at an unusually steep pitch attitude, and they made the incorrect call that neither of the airspeed indicators were working, and they eventually lost control and crashed.

The reason I bring that accident up is to illustrate what I said at the beginning - namely that UAS in and of itself isn't necessarily dangerous. In most cases that I know of, it is the response to the UAS - and/or not paying attention to the precautions intended to prevent going into the air with unreliable airspeed readings which are the real danger. However, it's worth bearing in mind that UAS incidents are pretty rare to start with, and improper responses even rarer.

11th Apr 2015, 02:32
As I understand it, if autothrust is disengaged the FBW Airbus thrust levers work the "old-fashioned" way

If they do, how many pilots do you think would know where they need to be physically positioned to provide cruise thrust? Since they spend all of their normal operation in a fixed position, I find the aforementioned pretty unlikely.

I know exactly where the thrust levers need to be with the trim between 5 and 6 to provide a safe starting point if things go really really wrong.

11th Apr 2015, 03:05
That's a different thing, really. The Airbus FBW architecture means that you can use the detents for pitch and power in the UAS scenario (see the image in my previous post). Autotrim is still active in all sub-modes of Alternate Law, so if you use the sidestick to set the pitch attitude, it'll stay there.

Regarding use of manual thrust in FBW Airbii, I dug up a thread from a couple of years ago which suggests that it happens more than you seem to believe:

I guess what I was trying to say is that there's nothing inherent to the Airbus FBW technology that prevents pilots from doing what you describe.

11th Apr 2015, 04:54
If you are an Airbus pilot you would know that a very small movement of the thrust levers causes a large variation in N1. You don't need to know thrust lever angle but you should remember the N1 itself. If you set 2.5 degrees of pitch and 80%N1 till you get the QRH out you will be fine. The main problem is recognition of UAS condition. Because AP and ATHR may not disconnect but misbehave initially. Basic principle in airbus FBW is no instinctive aggressive large side stick inputs.

11th Apr 2015, 09:43
Hi msbbarratt,
Crazy idea? Unnecessary idea?
I agree.

If the main pitots have failed due icing problems, why would a sprung loaded vane not be covered in ice?

Tiger Moth Air Speed Indicator (https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=Air+speed+vane&espv=2&biw=1280&bih=642&tbm=isch&imgil=dpRoecj1-rAtqM%253A%253B6OBacUv-x7o_1M%253Bhttp%25253A%25252F%25252Fwww.williammaloney.com%2 5252Faviation%25252FVintageWingsOfCanada%25252FDeHavillandTi gerMoth%25252Fpages%25252F09TigerMothAirspeedIndicator.htm&source=iu&pf=m&fir=dpRoecj1-rAtqM%253A%252C6OBacUv-x7o_1M%252C_&usg=__4Ez7IstW_dqLkCRsyX7yzaHgFjo%3D&dpr=2&ved=0CEgQyjc&ei=MdsoVcj3CMmO7AaJuoH4Dg#imgrc=dpRoecj1-rAtqM%253A%3B6OBacUv-x7o_1M%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Fwww.williammaloney.com%252Faviat ion%252FVintageWingsOfCanada%252FDeHavillandTigerMoth%252Fim ages%252F09TigerMothAirspeedIndicator.jpg%3Bhttp%253A%252F%2 52Fwww.williammaloney.com%252Faviation%252FVintageWingsOfCan ada%252FDeHavillandTigerMoth%252Fpages%252F09TigerMothAirspe edIndicator.htm%3B529%3B600)

11th Apr 2015, 10:12
Unless technology comes out with some radically different means of speed measurement. making another conventional instrument is not going solve the problem because it may suffer from same inadequecies.

12th Apr 2015, 01:38
To an outside observer this all seems like pilots sometimes have to infer important information (e.g. the pitots are iced up) indirectly and somewhat subjectively from other data.
Not really - the point is that as long as procedures (e.g. automatics off, stabilise flightpath) are followed, it's a fairly simple and straightforward process of elimination. More to the point, if it is an ice crystal blockage, then there's a good chance it will have cleared by the time the aircraft is stable. Apropos of nothing, I'm inclined to think that inferring important information from other data (e.g through the instruments) is part and parcel of what a pilot is expected to do as a matter of course!

Additionally, I'm pretty sure that as far as the A330 is concerned, the only incidents where two or more pitot sensors froze over involved the Thales AA probe - which was being taken out of service even before AF447 happened. After AF447, I believe the Thales AB model was also withdrawn from service and all aircraft retrofitted with the Goodrich probe.

[Pitot-mounted cameras] - Crazy idea? Unnecessary idea?
Not so much that as a case of the "using a sledgehammer to crack a walnut" analogy. Being a techie myself, I'm well aware of a natural inclination on our part to want to find technological solutions for a problem right out of the gate - as such, one of the things drilled into us by our Software Engineering teachers was to recognise that tendency and give the matter serious thought, because additional complexity means additional components capable of going wrong.

In this case, the rarity of even one of three pitot tubes icing over is a strong indication that adding complexity for its own sake would be the wrong thing to do. You also have to bear other things in mind - for example that the conditions in which icing occurs increase the likelihood of obscuring a camera's view, or that UAS can also be caused by a fault in the air data computer module.

12th Apr 2015, 13:32
Pilot training and airmanship application needs improving. I just saw The "Air Crash Investigation" of an ATR crash due to icing on the upper surface of the wings. This lead to much in flight testing of the capabilities of the de-icing boots and general operation techniques in icing conditions. What I found very disturbing was the crew behaviour to an unusual attitude of the a/c. I assume the tv presentation was accurate. It was reported that they were holding/cruising in icing conditions. The a/c was flying a little more nose up than normal. The pilots perceived this as an uncomfortable body angle for the cabin crews who were dong a trolley service. Rather than think/wonder and investigate why the a/c should not be behaving normally they elected to extend flaps to 'lower the nose' and make it more comfortable. The consequence of this was to increase the flow back of ice on the wings. The program suggested that was the end of the thinking/wondering why process. That blasť attitude is what I find disturbing; it led to a minor incident becoming a fatal crash. There are serious other such scenarios around the world. Time to wake up guys. It once again brings up the never ending circular discussion about whether 3-4 years experience and being an SOP guru is enough for todays captains. It also brings up the discussion about why it is that Turbo-Prop regional captains, who operate a lower powered a/c in the more challenging weather conditions and challenging airports, are mostly less experienced and much less remunerated than their glitzy jet peers. A captain/crew with 30/50/75/150/200 pax lives at stake should be treated more equally in qualification and rewards. Sorry for thread creep but I think we need more thoughtful pilots that often seems to be the case.

12th Apr 2015, 15:33
Not sure if it is still there, but in the back of the Vol 3. (I think), of the Boeings I have flown, (B737,747-400,757 and 767) there was a table of settings for flight with unreliable airspeed, (one of the few pages rarely amended as it was a copy of a print out from all the certification test flying).
Most guys had this copied, laminated and stuck in the back of their clip board. I would be surprised if Airbus didn't have a similar table. Given that there are three ASIs, a failure of all three is very unlikely but not impossible.

During a training session in the SIM we would sometimes practice a failure of the handling pilots ASI at the top of descent right down to landing, with all the configuration changes involved etc. Two, working as a team, non handling pilot with the table in their hand, calling the settings and it was invariably a successful landing. It is wrong, in a big way, to suggest that a pilot should have memorised all the variables of N1/2, EPR, attitude for all configurations and speeds from cruise to landing.

Personally I think it should be practised more often, it builds confidence in the event it should actually happen. Bit of a shock if the first time you have to do it is for real!

FE Hoppy
12th Apr 2015, 19:31
inertial + Cl should be enough to derive a reasonable airspeed. I'm pretty sure this is already in use.

12th Apr 2015, 22:55
As some of the greybeards have suggested, a ballpark knowledge of the gauge numbers is enough to get the crew out of trouble for the majority of failures.

Main problem I see is that, unless the pilot either handflies enough (or, at least, follows what the automatics are doing routinely in an intelligent monitoring way) s/he is not going to have that facility when the gremlins set the scene for excitement as they do from time to time.

It's not difficult .. only requires some repetitious directed exposure/practice.

Similarly to Parabellum's sim example, I used to get the cadet level first endorsement trainee progressively up to the point where s/he could fly a single pilot low vis circuit with all the PS instruments progressively failed (or covered) during the takeoff. The aim was to keep it under a reasonable semblance of control, find the ILS and execute a safe landing recovery in min vis conditions.

Not looking for any great finesse .. just a workmanlike, successful result. Main aim of the exercise was a confidence builder but it reinforced to the trainee that one actually can recover the aircraft with a lot of stuff not working .. just takes a bit of thinking and keeping calm while one puts the acquired basic flying skillset into practice.

In the real world, naturally, one doesn't do that sort of thing, other than in extremis, and the two crew recovery with the aid of the QRH is the rule - usually for a simple failure situation. One uses everything available to assist resolution of the problem.

However, it is useful to the pilot to know that it can be done if the wx conditions aren't too severe.

I really can't see why a simple failure such as loss of the ASI should be cause for major panic for a well-trained, intelligent pilot. Even if the instrument is giving obviously duff gen, it is a simple matter to cover it so that the output doesn't confuse/complicate the pilot's cognition process.

13th Apr 2015, 08:47
"I used to get the cadet level first endorsement trainee progressively up to the point where s/he could fly a single pilot low vis circuit with all the PS instruments progressively failed (or covered) during the takeoff. The aim was to keep it under a reasonable semblance of control, find the ILS and execute a safe landing recovery in min vis conditions."

Oh that it was still possible in this day of self-funded type ratings, rigid SOP's and tick the boxes necessary to reach an acceptable standard to pass LST. Bring back real training to a high standard with real depth & breadth, rather than coaching to reach an acceptable level to squirm through an LST. Even the weeks of Line Training do not fill in the empty holes in the fundamental education of how to fly the a/c..

14th Apr 2015, 14:19
In my opinion, the title of the procedure is self explanatory: Unreliable Speed.
ŅDo you rely on your airspeed indications?
-YEP: continue normally
-NOPE: don't try to find out why, don't troubleshoot on your own, just do the manufacturer troubleshooting procedure to confirm/get some reliable speed indication, or fly with reference to tables or BUSS if there is none.

It suffices with not relying on the airspeed, even if you don't have a clue of what is going on. It may take some time to answer the question and come to the conclusion that you actually don't trust your instruments. A mixture of airmanship, experience, knowledge and system warnings will get you to that conclusion if something is not all right with the speed indications. With time there will be more system warnings available, for example some cautions to advise of a non reasonable angle of attack for a given speed and load factor, or something similar. Helpful stuff.

Every time there is an ADR fault, or flags, you should check the consistence of the remaining indications, specially with pitch, thrust and automation behavior just in case you have got one of those two wrong computers voting the good one out cases.

Most integrated ab-initio pilots do an MCC course after they get their frozen ATPL. It is intended to get familiar with airline type of operation, but it is also a good opportunity to practice hand flying in jets (sim, of course).

I did a lot of it, and I was able to fly an ILS without speed indication very easily. We flew pitch and thrust and we could perform the whole approach, from the hold till landing, just by using the pitch references we had for each configuration. When I practice Unreliable Speed in my company simulators, I just retrieve that from my hard disk and have a relaxed session.

I hate that they have removed the pitch references from the QRH on account of having the BUSS. Why do they do that? Is the BUSS immune to failure or what?

15th Apr 2015, 01:56
Looking for a different option for determining IAS, what about a "reverse style" pitot that measures vacuum pressure. That way it will not get blocked. Anything in it will get sucked out. Something like a trumpet facing backward. If it needed clearing, just let some cabin air into it, say, every 30 seconds. Probably no need to have the ability to heat it either.

If you know altitude, outside air temp/pressure, and with some sensitive vacuum gauge/wizardry, it should be possible to determine IAS with greater reliability than using pitots.

Has anything like this ever been considered?

18th Apr 2015, 03:05
Just an Idea

Maybe Aircraft manufacturers should design and incorporate an "unreliable airspeed switch" into their aircraft. And add it as one of the memory items in case of suspected unreliable airspeed.

the way it could work is simply to write an algorithm which takes some known accurate values such as current pitch, power, weight, configuration and altitude (gps or otherwise), etc, and calculate a 'predicted' speed value based on the above values remaining constant. The switch would cause the speed bug to be replaced by a predicted speed bug (different colour)

This would require training pilots in the interpretation of the predicted speed info and the limitations/inaccuracies associated with the system.

18th Apr 2015, 03:31
Any jet with full trust and 10 degrees pitch up will climb away.

I had an unreliable airspeed in IMC take off in a A310;bit scary but came on top at 10,000', at which point the pitot tube cleared and things got normal. Just a whole bunch of warnings regarding slats and flaps.

Also I remember towing gliders for a whole day with airspeed indicating '0'.

At the end of the day maybe it is easier to learn to fly than to remember al the patches people come up with and try to mold into SOP's.

18th Apr 2015, 04:59
Any jet with full trust and 10 degrees pitch up will climb away.
Try that with "Any jet" at cruise altitude near max altitude, or even at optimum cruise altitude...

18th Apr 2015, 08:05
To intruder: at max altitude I have no intention to climb away, you?

18th Apr 2015, 09:21
It's going to be very interesting the 1st time someone follows this advise and sets an attitude & power setting at a low level which causes a climb, then gets an RA, goes into a complete panic and the a/c goes out of control. I wonder if all the consequences have been thought through, or was this a quick knee jerk reaction to fix something that should have been fixed via another solution. I think of human intervention into nature problems. There is a pest so introduce its predator. Then sit back and watch the utter mayhem you've caused. Most things do not have isolated consequences. Could this be a slice of swiss with the hole no open? Would better training not be the better longterm solution? Hence my wonder if this is a quick fix.

18th Apr 2015, 21:01
at max altitude I have no intention to climb away, you?
You made the general statement, not I...

19th Apr 2015, 02:58
JT responds:
I used to get the cadet level first endorsement trainee progressively up to the point where s/he could fly a single pilot low vis circuit with all the PS instruments progressively failed (or covered) during the takeoff. The aim was to keep it under a reasonable semblance of control, find the ILS and execute a safe landing recovery in min vis conditions.

Seems to me Asiana could profit from this exercise, except VFR no ILS, in transition training for 777 captains. :O

19th Apr 2015, 05:49
I might add to my previous statement, especially for the people only referring to SOP's, that common sense prevails. Despite the efforts to contain every action in boxes, history proves you cannot fly planes without knowing how to fly planes.
For intruder I might add that at or near max altitude, a pitch attitude of anything between 2 and 4 degrees pitch up might save you from falling out of the sky.
Wings level, of course.

Broomstick Flier
20th Apr 2015, 13:55
On the 767 I was taught and use as an immediate balkpark (before resorting to the QRH): 2.5 degrees pitch and 2.5t fuel flow (find FF easier to adjust than N1). That will keep me flying.

Next step would be pulling the aural warning CBs and call for the QRH, aviate, navigate and communicate, and a hot coffee, please.

20th Apr 2015, 15:26
For intruder I might add that at or near max altitude, a pitch attitude of anything between 2 and 4 degrees pitch up might save you from falling out of the sky.
...which is a BIG difference from your initial 10 degree pitch recommendation...

As Broomstick noted, knowing a ballpark pitch and fuel flow for level flight is an even better idea. For the 744, the 2.5/2.5 rule works fine at lighter weights (I use 320T as a ballpark discriminator between "light" and "heavy"), and 3.0 on the fuel flow when heavy. If you can't get to the lower EICAS ENGINE page right away, start with 90% N1. Within 0.5 degree pitch and 0.5 T/hr fuel flow (likely within the "jitter" of manual flight when in extremis), that works at any altitude when clean. You may climb or descend a bit, but your airspeed and vertical speed will be controllable.

What too many people fail to realize is that if airspeed fails airborne, the "Don't-a touch-a nothin'!" rule will usually work for the initial assessment. If the FMS fails, bringing down the VNAV, LNAV, and Autothrottles, the last thrust setting will likely still be active; and if the autopilot was on, the reversion to pitch- and heading-hold modes should keep you flying for a long time.

VERY few "emergencies" need IMMEDIATE action to the extent that a few seconds of thought will be detrimental. Even when I was flying single-engine A-4s off the carrier, an engine failure off the catapult was about the only emergency that fit that definition. When I was an instructor in that airplane, we stressed to the new students that the FIRST action in any other emergency was to wind the clock. That gave a couple seconds pause to figure out what was REALLY wrong...

20th Apr 2015, 17:48
All good common sense thoughts: which brings me back to an earlier question, why have the manufacturers, seemingly, jumped up with a quick knee jerk change to QRH? I sure there are some 'grey beards' in Seattle & Toulouse. Did the legal boys have louder voices? IMHO this issue is deeper and more complex than a 'quick fix for all occasions' type solution.
Just a thought: we've only mentioned Boeing & Airbus in this discussion; what do all the other manufacturers have to say about this unreliable airspeed scenario? This is possible in any a/c. What does Embraer, Canadair, Biz-jets, recommend?

20th Apr 2015, 19:01
In my Bombardier bizjet, they don't even include a pitch and thrust table, or any memory items. It just goes for the old fashioned maintain control, compare values and select a reliable source.

Their QRH is generally pretty ropey though so it's no great surprise.

20th Apr 2015, 19:46
Going back to the original question, which was asking about diagnosis as opposed to actions.

I think itís a really good one. We all know (or should know) the memory drills for unreliable airspeed in our various types. When to apply them is more of a problem area, as the aircraft will almost certainly be deviating from its previous flightpath when you do, with varying levels of excitement depending on how busy the environment is.

Itís all very well sitting in the the simulator doing a UA exercise but there are too many levels of unreality here, IMHO. First, you know itís coming and second, there are only so many ways to get a sim to behave.

In real life, there are many situations where the pitch/power relationship can be well away from normal but all the aircraft systems are functioning correctly. Some are dynamic and some can last a considerable time. If you encounter horizontal shear or temperature gradients, or climb/descend through a vertical shear, you will get pitch/power/airspeed combinations very reminiscent of a UA scenario.

How to tell the difference? Well, if youíve got a conflict of opinion between airspeed sources, then itís a genuine problem. If you havenít, itís still possible that they have all been affected at around the same time. When I had ice crystal icing a few years back, it happened to both engines within seconds of each other, which I suppose is not that incredible seeing as theyíre virtually identical.

If the attitude is not what you expect, it could be from external forces or driven by false data interacting with the auto flight systems. FBW and non-FBW aircraft behave differently AP-out as well. Iím not at all surprised that it takes some time to register that not all is right as the symptoms of flying through changing wind and/or temperature are very similar to those you might get with certain types of UA.

In summary, I donít think it is that obvious initially in many cases that you have a UA problem, given that during almost every flight there are instances of UA-like symptoms which are simply due to environmental changes.

21st Apr 2015, 05:44
That is right!

For that reason, the moment you don't quite trust your indications you should trigger the procedure application. You might be well in an overspeed, or approaching stall, so you have to do it promptly and do the trouble shooting by the book. No assumptions nor own troubleshooting. By the book. And performed properly because it will not work if you don't do exactly what it is laid out.

21st Apr 2015, 20:54
"By the book. And performed properly because it will not work if you don't do exactly what it is laid out."

One of the points of this debate is to ask why 'the book' has been changed. People had done it by the book in its previous life and it worked. I would like to think pilot are thinking animals and not just trained monkeys. Procedures are not cast in stone; they evolve & develop. Understanding why is part of our education. Here we are asking why; is it an improvement? Just following a new version, blindly, without thinking will not enhance one's education of the aviating environment.

Unreliable airspeed commences with a memory checklist. Thus it is not complicated to include simple memory parameters. B737 new QRH has 'flaps up' and 'flaps extended' pitch/att numbers. There is debate about whether they cause their own consequential problems. Flaps extended implies UP speed or slower. We all know 6 & 60% works. Flaps up implies 230-250kts and higher. <10,000' 3 degrees 65% works, 25,000 3 degrees 75% works; 35,000 2 degrees 85% works. Surely 2-3 degrees is easy to remember & 10/20/30,000' & 65/75/85% ball park figures are also easy. Highly trained, well educated, intelligent pilots should be able to handle that small memory task.

If you set the QRH figures at low levels you will climb. What will you do with an RA telling you to stop climbing or reduce V/S? Why not TA only? Why is it that B737 QRH is so reluctant to include TA only in more manoeuvres? Surely anytime you are a wounded bird and are restricted in any way the TA only should be selected, ASAP, to warn other a/c that you can not manoeuvre freely?

22nd Apr 2015, 08:22
...the moment you don't quite trust your indications you should trigger the procedure application.
Agreed. But what actually defines ďthe moment"? I think the OP was looking for definite trends/indications/events that might alert experienced pilots to a developing UA scenario.

I was trying to make the point in my previous post that we experience environmentally-driven UA-like symptoms far more often than we do actual UA itself, therefore naturally have trouble diagnosing real UA when it happens as we are exposed to ďfakeĒ UA on almost every sector.

One of the points of this debate is to ask why 'the book' has been changed.
Possibly because of incident/accident trends and a de-skilling of the Ďtraditionalí way of flying? Or that it was recognised that in a high-stress scenario, having something simple and widely applicable might lead to a better overall performance from an average crew?

In older aircraft, you just took the AP out (if it was in in the first place) and carried on flying, pretty much. With FBW, autothrottles, envelope protection, etc. that may not be enough as the protection systems could be trying to kill you and you have to positively assert control over them.

Regarding TCAS vs. UA drills, I think the other aircraft involved will get their RAs modified in the light of you not following yours. Also, as TCAS uses pressure altitude, any static problems will render it fairly useless.

22nd Apr 2015, 12:12
'I think the other aircraft involved will get their RAs modified in the light of you not following yours.'

I'd like a definitive 100% black & white answer to this question. So far in trying I've been unsuccessful. I think the time bubble that envelops/protects the attacked a/c would not give TCAS RA the time to change its mind and issue commands to the 'innocent' a/c to run away and give the crew time to react.
The 'note' in the Engine Failure QRH when selecting TA Only mentions only that it is .........to avoid climb commands.......There are far more scenarios where this should be selected. In this case I'm amazed that it is No. 9 in the sequence. IMHO if your performance is compromised TA only should be ASAP.

And; in a Volcanic Ash scenario where both pitots are effected by ash + engine flame out and you are in 'windmill start' envelope so you need speed (even worse in a total flame out where speed is vital & thrust is zero) and now you have an 'unreliable speed' event; I expect the ensuing confusion as to which memory items to follow accompanied by a massive CRM breakdown would be entertaining. The 'old grey beards' might come into their own.