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-   -   Airbus takes pilots back to basics with the A350 (https://www.pprune.org/rumours-news/496702-airbus-takes-pilots-back-basics-a350.html)

ironbutt57 29th Sep 2012 04:29

I've flown both types and quite frankly have no problem with the "tactile interface" address the training issues revamp the memory items for "airspeed unreliable"...perhaps add a "in cruise" section to the procedure...and feverishly work on replacing pitot tubes with some system not so susceptible to physical damage...

rick.shaw 29th Sep 2012 04:36

A step in the right direction. Over the years, the accountants have been running the zoo. They want costs driven down in all areas. Operational training costs is a big one and many companies(my current one in particular) have been trimming back training for years to a bare bones level. Part of this involves increasing reliance on automation. In my opinion, this has had a large negative effect on pilots' basic flying skills. The Air France accident comes to mind where this lack of basic flying skills may have been a factor in the pilots' inability to recover the situation.

The manufacturers are partially to blame. They promote minimum training costs(e.g. Airbus MFF) and the airlines just love it.

It's a pity the regulators aren't held to account for approving the reduced amount of training the airlines are getting away with and it's consequences.

Microburst2002 29th Sep 2012 05:28

Boeing pilots are children of the magenta
AIRBUS pilots are children of the green...

Both Boeing and Airbus are usually flown with AP from 200ft to 500 ft.

777 and 787 are no less FBW than A320, A340, 350, A330 and A380 are.

Autothrust and autothrottle have both pros and cons, same as sidesticks and control columns. Dozy has a point.

Who knows why they want 350 pilots to be hand flying skilled before moving on with the training... Most of them will come from other airbus types, anyway. Airbus FBW has been here for 20 years already... Isn't it too lat for that?

And, Why limit the new philosophy to the 350? Has the 350 significantly different handling qualities than the others?

Anyway, after those handflying lessons, pilots will,be asked to keep maximum automation level at all times. Or at the most a vague "use the automation level appropriate for the task" which for most airlines is read as "use full automation at all times, you donkey"

Clandestino 29th Sep 2012 07:01

Originally Posted by David Learmount
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.

That's the way my outfit trains its new A320 pilots ever since 1998! We start with no F/D, no ATHR, direct law and only gradually switch all the neat stuff on.

Now I see there was option to do it the other way, full automatics from hour one of the sim. Call me snob but I find this method inferior to the one I was exposed to. :E

Originally Posted by Gretchenfrage
We simply have to love you Dozy, for eternally defending what you know nothing about!

One of the more amusing aspect of recent Airbus debates is how professed non-pilot understands the system better then self-alleged pros. Thanks PPRuNe MGMT for the red warning at the bottom of the page that dispels my worries about the level of the knowledge of the today's pilots.

Originally Posted by Gretchenfrage
By taking away the tactile feedbacks, to know what's happening, the Airbus pilot has to LOOK.

Every pilot has to look. That's what certifying authorities believe, so they gave their seal of approval to Airbus. Pilot who believes tactile feedback are supplement, or even worse: replacement, to instrument scan has developed very, very bad habit which won't bite under normal circumstances. If he's lucky and never have AT failure, controls failure, flying near the edge (or over it) the envelope, he'll live to retirement and possibly even blab about it on unintentional comedy programs labeled as aviation documentaries.

Originally Posted by Gretchenfrage
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.

Exactly, however, there is no purpose in knowing what your fellow pilot does if you first don't realize aeroplane is behaving as it shouldn't. Only then finding the culprit for misbehaviour can start. That's why many a linked controls aeroplane was lost through pilot flying action and pilot non flying lack of response.

Originally Posted by Gretchenfrage
Can you even hear yourself, sometimes, Dozy??

Gretchenfrage, would you please for once provide verifiable references to your claims, that is ones that don't include only posts on anonymous forums, instead of mounting personal attacks? Are you really interested in meaningful debate?

Originally Posted by Dozy Wannabe
The fact is that while tactile feedback can in theoretical terms provide another data channel to the PNF and crew in general,

Yes it can but is unreliable and absolutely not intended to supplant the instrument scan as control position is a) demand, not delivery b) largely irrelevant for pilot performing proper instrument scan. How much control wheel deflection? Who cares! As much as needed to achieve desired result on AI. Warning that large control deflections might be needed when dealing with upsets included in Upset recovery aid (developed jointly by a lot of folks involved in flight safety, A & B brands included, published before AF447) is not news to proficient and knowledgeable pilot.

Originally Posted by transilvana
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.

From this post I only get aptitude for sweeping, single-minded, unreasonable generalization. Check out Airbus incidents on Avherald or ASN. Come back with revised notions, please.

Originally Posted by Guglielmo
Excuse me for askig but is there a command in use for FBW aircraft, something like, "Taking over - Hands Off."

FBW is generic term. It doesn't imply controls are not connected. On FBW Airbi usual callout is simple "I have controls".

Priority button does wonders when prompt compliance can not be elicited.

Originally Posted by Dozy Wannabe
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.

Opinion that matters is the one of the certifying authorities. While they do work with test pilots to achieve optimal compromise in cockpit design and can occasionally even lend an ear to pilots' associations, they never, ever take into consideration posts made on anonymous forums.

Originally Posted by Microburst 2002
Boeing pilots are children of the magenta
AIRBUS pilots are children of the green...

Good one! :ok:

Squawk-7600 29th Sep 2012 07:22

In your opinion. One man's design flaw is another man's different way of doing it.
Well no, not my opinion at all. That is fact well proven in science that has studied this area. HOWEVER the increased complexity in providing servo-feedback to the sidesticks was considered by Airbus and a decision was made not to include it and instead keep this (obviously critical) area as simple as possible.

I agree with other posters, the lack of basic manipulation skills is in no way tied to any particular airframe manufacturer. However in my experience I have seen far more errors made due to a lack of understanding/lack of attention to automation modes, than errors caused through basic manipulation skills.

4Greens 29th Sep 2012 08:17

Light years ago checking out on a Qantas 707:

Senior Check 'What do you do if you are flying along and suddenly all the warning lights come on and alarms all go off?'

Correct answer: 'Sit on your hands'

Gretchenfrage 29th Sep 2012 08:21

I get the point of the defenders of the Airbus philosophy. From their purely intellectual and technological point of view everything is perfect and because the system has once been set up a certain way, the users simply have to deal with it. If any one of them gets it wrong, the question of how much the set up might be involved, is faded out. Mainly with two arguments: One that the system is carved in stone and change is too difficult and costly, thus not possible, or worse, due to those facts, not necessary. A very unscientific deduction. Two because if the users would have better know the depths of the set up and its programming intentions, they would have know better how to react. Therefore a better knowledge of the whole system, that by the way is handed out to the user with a very stripped “Need to Know”-FCOM, has to stand as remedy for any shortcoming of the system. A knowledge that is meant for engineers, constructors and programmers, but certainly not for users.

I am not referring to the desk-pilots who constantly try to convince the world how good they would be as operators at the helm. I however very much respect the view of fellow aviators who have operated both FBW systems. Many agree with me and many disagree, stating that the removal of tactile feedback poses no problem to them. The absence can be easily covered with view of either the controls of the other pilot, or by interpreting the different displays, so they pretend.

I have participated in almost 100 Airbus Sim-sessions and more than 250 in others and I have seen more confusion in the AB sessions than in all others. They mainly originated in overload of the intellectual human sensors and subsequently a reduced performance of his brain functions. That lead to momentary loss of a lot of aquired knowledge and sops. What was almost never lost, was the primary instinctive functions, the basic and instinctive flying ability, plus the lower back functions that has its sensors not in the eyes, but in the lower back and in the hands. This is a very autistic moment and to interact with a fellow pilot or the surrounding happens almost exclusively through feel. Allthough mostly the brain cought up quite quickly, the moment was marked shorter in tactile feedback environement, than in an automated one. Therefore the old wisdom “if you’re lost, switch everything off, then start putting back some helping automation”.

It seems strange that fellow pilots can seriously defend taking away a primary source of helping us in such moments, namely the tactile feedback. There is a huge cry for more help in any form of more protections, but not many seem to realise that Airbus has taken away a very human, primary protection, that is the tactile channel, which can work perfectly in parallel with the visual channel. There are so many occasions and incidents where an honest aviator must admit that with a moving stick and lever his fellow aviators would have had a slightly better or faster chance of grasping the situation.
What begs my belief is the argument about the increased weight and cost of any feedback on controls. Some take the Boeing version as an argument, which might be heavy. But simply go to any FlightSim freak and check out his set up at home. There is a rumble-stick that can move and a thrust lever capable of the same. They are quite cheap. Their feedback is rudimentary, but that is sufficient and essentially what the other pilot needs: Does his fellow do anything or not, does he pull/push, does the AT increase thrust or closes to idle, not more. This is cheap and instantly doable, and without ant other repercussions, the system can stay exactly the same, it only interacts a little bit better with the pilot.

I conclude that it begs my belief that a simple enhancement to a good system would not be looked into.
That desk-jockeys abhorr is understandable, they can switch off the computer when the fit hits the shan, but that experienced aviators don’t want to have that little more safety-help on board is astonishing …..

Wirbelsturm 29th Sep 2012 11:26

I've flown both, Airbus and Boeing, they are both aeroplanes, they both fly like aeroplanes without the automatics. Both are a delight to fly without the automation,AP and AT, with the correct approach and a little bit of briefing then both types are great fun to fly as aircraft.

The problem tends to lie in the fact that quite a few pilots seem to have an un-natural aversion to taking the automatics out and flying the aircraft. Sadly, in many cases, the time that requirement comes is when a situation occurs with the loss of multiple other systems leading to a dramatic increase in work load. Above all, relevant knowledge should be tested and check during sim checks, route checks etc. to ensure fundamental basics such as pitch power settings for standard climb, cruise and descent profiles are immediately ready in the event of unusual instrumentation failures.

Primary must be 'who has control', it's irrelevant who flys the thing, Captains and First Officers are trained to the same standard, the relevance is that one pilot should be 'in control' and concentrating on flying the aircraft in a safe path and the NFP should be concentrating on re-assembling what systems are available and co-ordinating the recovery, aircraft, ATC and crew.


B777 flies like a fat Piper Tomohawk, IMHO of course! :}

Wirbelsturm 29th Sep 2012 12:07

And it's fun, too! Basic flying is fun.
If you want proper flying then jump out of a B777 and get into the front of an Augusta A109. That's always good fun. You can't beat a Helicopter for proper flying, again all IMHO!


blaireau 29th Sep 2012 12:17

General Handling
I had the interesting experience of flying both Boeing and Airbus aircraft concurrently with a certain late lamented Belgian company. It certainly kept me more or less on the ball.

An additional aid to me was my general aviation interest on days off. Actually flying the aeroplane! In my early civil days, Britannia had a flying club with greatly subsidised costs. A few more of these sort of opportunities could keep most basic skills well honed.

OPENDOOR 29th Sep 2012 12:25

You still cant see what the other pilot is doing with the control column.
4GREENS. I was on the flight deck of an A320 (just prior to T/O) recently and never having flown using a side stick I raised this question (AF447 in mind)

The captain asked his first officer to apply full nose up input whilst he held his stick full nose down. Two green panel lights lit up in direct line of sight at high level such that both pilots could clearly see stick conflict warning.

The captain (who had a similar start in aviation to me IE first 1500 hours in light A/C) did not consider the lack of linkage or feedback a problem.


captjns 29th Sep 2012 12:34

Wanna get back to basics? Plain and simple... turn off the automatics and have at it.

A37575 29th Sep 2012 12:48

Kudos to them, and to the rest of the big manufacturers who I'm certain will be following suit.
Don't be so sure. If it means adding more simulator sessions just to practice flying a jet aeroplane, then that means additional cost of training and that is the last thing the bean-counters will want. Boeing I understand are putting more pilot-proof automation into their machines so that manual flying is the last resort. The manufacturer assumes quite understandably, that crews flying their aircraft are experienced and competent. Therefore why should more manual flying be required. Experiences reveals that is not necessarily the case. In any case, a competent simulator instructor would normally introduce a new type to a new crew by letting the crew have feel for the flying characteristics for the first half hour before introducing the automatic goodies.

Monarch Man 29th Sep 2012 13:03

Having flown various 320-21-330's plus the 75-76-777 I see the good and bad in both philosophies, I can't however get my head around what the AB system designers were thinking when they decided to forgo any tactile feedback.
Put simply, all us humans rely on tactile feedback in our day to lives, our very existence relies apon actions and muscle memory that can only be accomplished with a feedback loop that makes sense to us.
I can't help escape the thought that at Airbus there exists a great deal of designer arrogance, clever people in their glass towers if you will, far too sure of their own ideas and intellect to even contemplate that they have got it wrong.
It reminds me of the climate in the military aerospace sector in the mid 1950s-60's were many great intellects with many PHD's and doctorates were convinced that the era of close in air to air combat was over as the missile would trump all comers....no need for a gun, how wrong they were.
I wonder if there will be any contrition in Toulouse? at the very least this about face is tacit to an admission that they got it a bit wrong.

A37575 29th Sep 2012 13:06

While they do work with test pilots to achieve optimal compromise in cockpit design and can occasionally even lend an ear to pilots' associations, they never, ever take into consideration posts made on anonymous forums.
And that is their weakness. Individual flying ops inspectors who are "the regulators" may or may not ignore what they read on Pprune but often these regulators are not always the experts they purport to be. They would learn a lot from reading Pprune opinions while discarding posts by the occasional pedant. Despite the cynics who knock everything on Pprune, there are some very experienced and knowledgeable contributors in these pages. I for one, am grateful for their views and learn from them.

A37575 29th Sep 2012 13:13

However in my experience I have seen far more errors made due to a lack of understanding/lack of attention to automation modes, than errors caused through basic manipulation skills.
And that is perfectly understandable, too. After all it is a reasonable bet that 99 percent of the flight you are on is with the automatics engaged. On the other hand how many times in flight have you seen a pilot wrestling with the controls manually to get out of an unusual attitude? Answer: None

Of course you will see more cock-ups on automatics than cock-ups in manual flying.

blue_ashy 29th Sep 2012 13:33

Judging by this news and the comments, maybe us GA pilots are the more skilled? To say that any type of pilot is judged to not be in full and complete control of the aircraft and especially due to the aircraft itself at any point is quite shocking.

acbus1 29th Sep 2012 13:42

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...
Three days. Wow! They'll be different pilots for life after three days.


OK, so three days is better than none at all. But three years on a glassless(?) cockpit aeroplane (for want of a better description) is my very rough guesstimate of the minimum required.

As for the sidestick vs yoke argument, AF447 wasn't only about botched handover of sidestick control. It was about one of the three muppets holding full aft sidestick input for a huge proportion of the stalled descent. If he'd been hauling back on a yoke between his legs (and, in effect, a duplicate yoke between the other muppet's legs), can anyone on this thread seriously be suggesting that the other two wouldn't have sussed what the problem was in pretty quick time and rescued the situation?

Get real. AF447 with yokes would still be in one piece and the passengers would be moaning about nothing more than a bumpy flight. Try arguing otherwise. It'll be amusing to watch your attempts.

Discorde 29th Sep 2012 13:47

From (published in 1997 - that's 15 years ago - as 'Is It On Autopilot?'):

<<Again, will our future pilots be able to fly their aircraft without the assistance of autopilots and computers when necessary if they never get the chance to practise these skills during normal operation? A related factor is that a pilot whose job is merely to watch the aircraft fly itself is unlikely to be as well motivated as one who can get his or her hands on the controls now and then. Designers of future aircraft and airline managers must address the issue of how much and under what conditions pilots should be allowed, or indeed encouraged, to fly manually and without guidance systems. It is likely that compared to a mere aircraft monitor, a skilled, motivated pilot will always make a greater overall contribution to flight safety.>>

Stuck_in_an_ATR 29th Sep 2012 14:09

I think that the change of training philosophy is already happening! :ok:

I did my '320 conversion course in Toulouse a year ago and was very surprised by the amount of hand-flying we were given in the sim. First 2 or 3 FFS sessions were mainly raw-data flying. Later on, there was also quite a lot alternate/direct law flying, which (by necessity) was also hand-flown.

All in all, I got much more hand-flying on the Bus conversion than on any other Type-rating course before.

Also, the main emphasis of the (so dreaded by some) "Airbus philosophy", which was presented to us in the very beginning of the course was:
- "YOU are in charge of the aircraft, NOT the computers"
- "Take over whenever you deem necessary"
- "Use the level of automation appropriate for the task"

Alltogether the Airbus course made much more sense than one would expect after reading PPrune :}

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