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Airbus takes pilots back to basics with the A350

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Airbus takes pilots back to basics with the A350

Old 28th Sep 2012, 18:32
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Airbus takes pilots back to basics with the A350

FlightGlobal article:

By David Learmount, September 28, 2012

"Airbus is going to train pilots for its A350XWB differently.

The first three days in the A350 simulator will be about letting the pilots find out that it is "just another aeroplane". Without using any of the sophisticated flight guidance systems they will be able to find out how it flies and what that feels like. These pilots may not have done that for years on the aircraft they fly now, so they might find out a few things about themselves as well as the A350.

Airbus' flying training manager David Owens told me at the Royal Aeronautical Society's annual Flight Crew Training Conference in London yesterday that pilots will not be allowed to switch on the automatic systems until they have learned how to fly the aeroplane.

Although Owens didn't spell it out, it seems the industry is beginning to learn that never letting the pilots treat the aeroplane like a flying machine means they never find out what it can do. And more importantly, what it can't.

Loss of control has, in the last 20 years, become a killer phenomenon. You will find plenty in this blog discussing what happens when pilots lose their feeling of having a relationship with their aeroplane, and in the process losing confidence in their ability to take over when the automatics fail them.

Well done Airbus for re-introducing what should never have been taken away in the first place."

Last edited by Claybird; 28th Sep 2012 at 18:43.
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Old 28th Sep 2012, 18:35
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Thirty years on, a bit late.

Another case of requesting applause for something that should have been done long before...
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Old 28th Sep 2012, 18:40
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Too many have paid with their lives for long lasting ignorance....
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Old 28th Sep 2012, 19:42
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You will find plenty in this blog discussing what happens when pilots lose their feeling of having a relationship with their aeroplane, and in the process losing confidence in their ability to take over when the automatics fail them.
Luckly my flight-deck crew had a close relationship with the 73NG when the AP failed the other day... 3-hour flight, and they flew it beautifully all the way through the destination.
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Old 28th Sep 2012, 19:55
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You still cant see what the other pilot is doing with the control column.
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Old 28th Sep 2012, 20:41
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What control column?

Clap, clap, clap Airbus. It took allot of time to realize this, but better late than never.

There were too many incidents/accidents that could be avoided if the crew had a more thorough knowledge of basic flying skills.
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Old 28th Sep 2012, 20:41
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To be fair, Airbus are hardly alone in having spent the last 3 decades pushing automation. As Learmount says (my bold) :

Although Owens didn't spell it out, it seems the industry is beginning to learn that never letting the pilots treat the aeroplane like a flying machine means they never find out what it can do. And more importantly, what it can't.
Kudos to them, and to the rest of the big manufacturers who I'm certain will be following suit.

@4Greens - the stats suggest that the worry over interlinked columns is a red herring. Far more pressing is the need for those in the PNF/PM role to assert themselves. And I know for a fact that you can see the opposite sidestick in the A320 flightdeck unless your colleague is significantly further forward in his seat than you are.

@Krueger - You undoubtedly have a point, however I'd also caution that we do not underestimate the role that startle factor may have played in recent LOC incidents/accident.

Last edited by DozyWannabe; 28th Sep 2012 at 20:47.
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Old 28th Sep 2012, 21:03
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Startle factor

I agree with you on the startle factor, DozyWannabe. But that shouldn't be enough to not regain control of the aircraft. That's way we should pratice for Loss of Control in various situations and basic flying skills are paramount for a successful recovery.
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Old 28th Sep 2012, 21:07
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@Krueger - For sure. I think that equally important to drilling the skills in should also be training in recognising when a colleague has been thrown by startle factor and having the confidence to assert and keep control even (or especially) if the colleague is significantly senior.
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Old 28th Sep 2012, 21:07
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the stats suggest that the worry over interlinked columns is a red herring. Far more pressing is the need for those in the PNF/PM role to assert themselves. And I know for a fact that you can see the opposite sidestick in the A320 flightdeck unless your colleague is significantly further forward in his seat than you are.
We simply have to love you Dozy, for eternally defending what you know nothing about!

To be assertive, you need to know what's happening. By taking away the tactile feedbacks, to know what's happening, the Airbus pilot has to LOOK. Not a big problem, because you seem to know for a fact, that under certain favourable circumstances, the fellow pilot can even see the other sidestick! Wow, what an achievement in cockpit architecture!
Anyway, to know what your fellow aviator is stirring, you have to look across, to know what the holy AT is shoving, you have to look at the engine display.
During all that time, sometimes under heavy stress, this simply averts you to do what you should also do, in the first place, namely to LOOK OUTSIDE! Especially close to ground.
Or will this not be included in the oh-so revolutionary new manual flying training syllabus by Airbus on the 350?

Can you even hear yourself, sometimes, Dozy??
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Old 28th Sep 2012, 21:54
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Originally Posted by Gretchenfrage View Post
We simply have to love you Dozy, for eternally defending what you know nothing about!
I'm not defending anything, I'm simply providing a viewpoint*. As it happens I know a fair amount about the systems implementation and the process that was applied in putting it together. I can't claim to know all of the specifics - but I'm always willing to learn.

To be assertive, you need to know what's happening. By taking away the tactile feedbacks, to know what's happening, the Airbus pilot has to LOOK. Not a big problem, because you seem to know for a fact, that under certain favourable circumstances, the fellow pilot can even see the other sidestick!
Under all circumstances it is possible to know what is happening by looking at the instruments (or, as you say, outside - if in daylight). If you suspect that the PFCs are being mishandled, look across (or ask) to double-check!

Anyway, to know what your fellow aviator is stirring, you have to look across, to know what the holy AT is shoving, you have to look at the engine display.
I am utterly unaware of the religious significance of autothrust - perhaps you can enlighten me.

The fact is that while tactile feedback can in theoretical terms provide another data channel to the PNF and crew in general, there have been several accidents where, despite having a linked control column in front of them or moving thrust levers to one side, none of the crew used that information to recover the situation, and in some cases apparently never even noticed that information was there. There are other cases too where the linked column design worked against the crew - for example EgyptAir 990, where with the Airbus system it would have been possible to lock the RHS controls out by holding the override button - not possible with yokes.

Each system has benefits and drawbacks, and if the historical record is to be used as a guide, neither the traditional layout nor the Airbus FBW layout has a proven advantage over the other in safety terms.

During all that time, sometimes under heavy stress, this simply averts you to do what you should also do, in the first place, namely to LOOK OUTSIDE! Especially close to ground.
As I suggested earlier, looking outside is only useful in daylight.

Can you even hear yourself, sometimes, Dozy??
Yes I can - and you?

[* - A viewpoint which is neither based on defending a particular design, nor suggesting that one is better than another - simply that any hypothesis should be supported by evidence.]

Last edited by DozyWannabe; 28th Sep 2012 at 22:10.
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Old 28th Sep 2012, 22:53
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From this report I only get 2 sides:

1.- Airbus pilots only know punching buttons
2.- Airbus pilots don´t know how to fly without all those buttons around.

So now they are going to train them on how to fly a damm Scarebus? this is ridiculous, that´s the very first thing you should do on any trainning.
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Old 28th Sep 2012, 23:42
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How will the children of the magenta / green cope? The last real aircraft they flew may have been in their initial training and with certain licences that may not even be 100 hours of flying time.

Last edited by tubby linton; 29th Sep 2012 at 10:27.
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Old 28th Sep 2012, 23:50
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Last time I checked, "Children Of The Magenta [Line]" was an AA presentation, and then - as now - AA has precisely zero FBW Airbii in their fleet.

Whilst the original article refers to an Airbus initiative, let's not lose sight of the fact that automation overreliance or dependence appears to be a type-agnostic problem.

I'd be interested to hear a definition of what constitutes a "proper" aircraft.
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Old 28th Sep 2012, 23:54
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Dozy I was using the term to describe a type of pilot not those from a specific airline.
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Old 29th Sep 2012, 00:42
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Be that as it may - you seem to have an specific idea as to what constitutes a "real" aircraft, and I'd like to know what that is and why.

I suspect we'd find that with a random sampling across all ages and experience levels, the spread of pilots who had become somewhat overreliant on the automatics would not be restricted to a certain generation or experience level.
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Old 29th Sep 2012, 01:49
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And I know for a fact that you can see the opposite sidestick in the A320 flightdeck unless your colleague is significantly further forward in his seat than you are.
Please tell me you're joking! As if a pilot is going to be squinting across trying to see what the other pilot is doing with their sidestick!!!!

I've flown both Airbus and Boeing, and I like the Airbus. Nevertheless the lack of tactile feedback to pilots is a serious design flaw on behalf of Airbus when it comes to operating them. It would still be possible to have motorised feedback through sidesticks/thrust levers however it would introduce significant additional complexity to that part of the aircraft and was therefore excluded. It definitely detracts from the aircraft operation from a pilot's perspective, no question about it. However the aircraft comes as a "package" of plusses and minuses, and overall there is some exceedingly clever thinking in there I assure you.

Idiotic comments about "Scarebus" simply make me wonder why juveniles are allowed access to the internet past their bedtime. I sure hope the comments don't come from a professional pilots, as they were embarrassing.
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Old 29th Sep 2012, 02:06
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Excuse me for askig but is there a command in use for FBW aircraft, something like, "Taking over - Hands Off."
If not, how useful could that be?
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Old 29th Sep 2012, 02:31
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I think it's great news that this type of training will now be a part of the introduction, those wanting or needed a control column, please stay in the Boeing.
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Old 29th Sep 2012, 03:17
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Originally Posted by Squawk-7600 View Post
Nevertheless the lack of tactile feedback to pilots is a serious design flaw on behalf of Airbus when it comes to operating them.
In your opinion. One man's design flaw is another man's different way of doing it.

It would still be possible to have motorised feedback through sidesticks/thrust levers however it would introduce significant additional complexity to that part of the aircraft and was therefore excluded.
There were other factors - the AF447 thread addresses them several times.

It definitely detracts from the aircraft operation from a pilot's perspective, no question about it.
Actually, by reading the threads on here over the years what comes through crystal clear to me is that different pilots hold different opinions on the matter. There is no apparent "correct" way of doing it.
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