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Keeping Autoland "Current"?

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Keeping Autoland "Current"?

Old 7th Nov 2019, 05:10
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Join Date: May 2019
Location: Southern California
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Keeping Autoland "Current"?

I was on a 737-800 into CLE last Saturday afternoon.
The pilot announced they had been asked by maintenance to perform an autoland, in order to keep it current.
He asked that all PED's be completely powered off before we reached 10,000 feet.

It had me wondering why an automated system would need to be run periodically "to keep it current"?

Or were they doing the autoland to keep the pilots current with the autoland system?

Does an autoland approach normally begin at FL100?

btw, the autoland (if they did use it) greased the landing.
It felt like very little flair, and we barely felt the wheels touch.
May have been a one wire though, as we were on the ground right after the threshold went under us.

Smoothest landing I can recall.
Quite the contrast to the spine bender I had going into PSG last August.
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Old 7th Nov 2019, 06:45
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You can watch the complete autoland set up and landing here -
and this one explains more

My first fully automatic flight seen from the cockpit was many years ago on a Britannia Airways Boeing 767-200ER from Ibiza to Gatwick
I was airline operations staff for many years.
I was on the jump seat and the Captain, a friend of mine said he was going to do a fully automatic flight - The weather was perfect at departure airport, en-route and for our arrival at LGW.
He just wanted to keep his currency and I was in awe how he uses and sets up, the auto pilot, radios, FMC, auto throttle, autoland, ILS, auto brake, and speed brakes/spoliers to perform a fully automatic flight, decent, approach and landing.

He taxied the 767 to the runway set T/O thrust, we started the roll, rotated and climbed away.
Set up of the FMC and Autopilot etc put our 767 on course for the way-points set and thence to LGW, and apart from raising/lowering the gear and flap levers at take off, and for the landing, he did not touch the aircraft yoke or throttles again until after we landed -

On approach to LGW the radio boxes and AP were all set up for our aircraft to pick up the Glide slope and ILS for an autoland,

Flaps and the gear were lowered, autobrake and speed brakes had been armed, so we sat there hands off (as we had been since our take off) and the 767 greased onto LGW's runway.
The aircraft braked itself with the autobrake, and the ground spoilers extended automatically once the Main gear had compressed.
The Captain only then reached for, and retarded the throttles, put the engines into idle reverse thrust and he used the rudder pedals to keep the 767 on the centre line as it slowed down.
Reverse was cancelled.
He then took over with nose wheel steering to turn the 767 off the runway - He was then back controlling the 767.

There you go. Hands Off all the way from IBZ to LGW in a 767.
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Old 7th Nov 2019, 12:32
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I've never had it on the Airbus, but on the 737 it was quite common to get a request from maintenance to perform an autoland to get the system back to full usable status again. Usually after some maintenance action. In that case an autoland had to be done at the earliest convenient time, not because we pilots needed it, but because the aircraft did. If the autoland was successful and fully within specs, and it always was, the autoland system was allowed to work in real required autoland conditions.

Pilots do have recency requirements as well, but those are usually taken care of during the regular simulator training.
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Old 7th Nov 2019, 14:51
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Current autolands are required to keep Cat III certification current.
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Old 7th Nov 2019, 16:06
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Pilots have recently requirements - 2 auto lands every 6 months which can be done in the sim. Ac also have recency requirements though I have no idea what they are. Ac may need to perform autoland after maintenance either to prove the system or upgrade it from No Autoland to Land 2 or Land 3, which from the OP sounds like this was

HtH
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Old 8th Nov 2019, 02:13
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At my company autoland must be accomplished every 15 days / 28 days if not revert to Cat I til performed.

In aircraft, not SIM.

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Old 8th Nov 2019, 04:42
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Thanks rog747, and all who replied.
Clearly I didn't think this one through at all, before asking the question.

Of course autoland would have to be checked out after servicing any of the systems or sensors related to it.
And from the video, it would seem autoland procedure touches most of them.

I also got the answer to a question I've asked myself when we're sitting at WRG, waiting for the fog to lift.
Landing the plane is is not the challenge (if WRG had ILS).
Finding the gate without bumping into something is.
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Old 8th Nov 2019, 08:13
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Quick question related to this - after maintenance is there no 'check flight' that could include an autoland? If I read this right, the first flight after maintenance is a revenue flight?
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Old 8th Nov 2019, 13:47
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AndoniP.

Almost certainly a revenue flight unless there are other maintenance items requiring a check flight. This will be an issue for Ops to ensure that the flight is not planned to an airfield forecasting less than Cat 1. As indeed it would if the ac was downgraded to No Autoland for some other reason.

Somewhere (bannered at the top of our OFP in our case) will be a request from engineering to carry out a standard autoland.
deltahotel is online now  
Old 27th Nov 2019, 23:19
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Originally Posted by Clay_T View Post
It had me wondering why an automated system would need to be run periodically "to keep it current"?

Or were they doing the autoland to keep the pilots current with the autoland system?

Does an autoland approach normally begin at FL100?

btw, the autoland (if they did use it) greased the landing.
It felt like very little flair, and we barely felt the wheels touch.
May have been a one wire though, as we were on the ground right after the threshold went under us.
All systems need testing from time to time, especially ones that might only get used normally in poor weather.

Pilots need to stay current by performing autolands regularly, to give them confidence in the system.

The autoland (at my airline - 757) begins when the system is armed usually once we're on the localiser and approach mode armed. To arm the system simply engage the remaining autopilots. Normal procedure for an ILS is to arm all autopilots anyway then disengage for a manual landing. Flare and Rollout modes arm passing 1500' - at which point the system will autoland unless you disconnect.

If you leave all autopilots engaged, then passing 50' on the radio altimeter FLARE mode will engage and it will progressively flare from 50' down to 0' and yes it does it way better than I can. The thrust levers will close by themselves, Autobrakes will bring you to a stop if armed, spoilers will come up by themselves so all you have to do is pull the reversers. ROLLOUT mode will take over the pedals and hold the centre line until you disconnect the autopilot to turn off the runway.

The system works by flying the ILS, so it'll land on exactly the same spot as normal, it shouldn't land short. Since it uses the ILS and rad alt, you can autoland on any ILS equipped runway even without cat II or cat III approaches. Just make sure the ILS isn't offset otherwise it'll roll you off the runway into the grass!
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