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Flying a 747 Classic/Tristar with no FE

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Flying a 747 Classic/Tristar with no FE

Old 12th Dec 2008, 08:32
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Question Flying a 747 Classic/Tristar with no FE

I came across this thread recently:

http://www.pprune.org/rumours-news/1...n-tristar.html

Here's my question, do you think it's possible for a 2 man crew to operate a 747 Classic, DC-10, 727 or Tristar if none were ex-FEs themselves?
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Old 12th Dec 2008, 09:38
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I once found myself in the simulator building with 2 hours to spare before my 747-400 detail. Decided to look at some of the other machines. The sim engineers said the 747-200 wasn't needed for a while and that I could have a play if I wanted. Had a good look at the F/Es panel and figured out what was what. To cut a long story short, I managed to start it up, taxi out and fly a couple of circuits, finishing off with a half decent landing.

So to answer your question: Yes it would be possible to 'fly' one of these jets without an F/E (but I'm sure that the AFM requires three crew) so to 'operate' one properly one needs a trained and qualified guy or gal in each of the three seats.

On the other hand, Charlton Heston managed it in Airport 1977 so it must be OK!
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Old 12th Dec 2008, 11:32
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Well, eckhard...

From simply watching what normally happens, you have stumbled around the flight deck and got it going...congratulations...most FEs could do the piloting job with a similar amount of ease!

...and this proves what!...or....your point is!...

a 12 yearold boy could probably drive his old mans car, but that certainly doesn't prove anything except how to get yourself INTO trouble!
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Old 12th Dec 2008, 11:47
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Take it easy FD. I can't find the reason to be upset in eckhard's post. All he does is answer the question: of course a two man crew can fly away w/o the engineer. That doesn't say anything about the profession itself. So lighten up!
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Old 12th Dec 2008, 12:32
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Thanks Penko!

Sorry FD, I seem to have hit a nerve!

No offence to FEs intended nor (I think) implied. It just shows how one can be misunderstood. I was always taught that if someone misunderstands you, the fault probably lies with the way you phrased what you were trying to say. So, to adhere to that principle, let me apologise for my clumsy wording and try to sum up my point again:

It is possible to fly just about any aircraft as a single pilot, given enough time to prepare. That doesn't mean it should be encouraged. What does it 'prove'? Nothing much, except that with no abnormalities or time pressures to deal with, the task of getting an aircraft airborne and back on the ground again is not beyond most professional flight crew (pilots and F/Es). I must say I enjoyed the challenge of finding out what some unfamiliar knobs and switches were for. I'm sure the simple piloting required under such low stress conditions would also not be beyond some 12-year-old boys. I've seen some sim engineers hand-fly Cat 11 approaches and landings to a much higher standard than most pilots could. Does that make me feel inadequate or threatened as a professional pilot? Not in the least.

By complete contrast, the safe and orderly operation for hire and reward requires the co-ordinated input and actions of a minimum number of trained and qualified aircrew. That number is determined by the certifying authority and in the case of the 'classic' wide-bodies and other types, certainly and deservedly includes the Flight Engineer. It's obvious that the minimum crew must be able to deal with the worst conceivable combination of failures, environmental problems, etc. The system design and displays of the older jets are too complex to be managed by a two-pilot crew under such conditions. The extra pair of eyes are also useful in normal operations. I could go on but I suspect that you agree with all of these points.

I did try to separate the notion of simply 'flying' against that of 'operating', and I certainly don't consider myself any sort of 'higher being'! In all my flying, I have always learned from my students (mostly about my own shortcomings as an instructor) but also about all sorts of things that they had a better handle on than I did. I count this exchange as one of those learning opportunities.

So, to answer the original post again: Yes, it think it's possible for a 2 man crew to operate a 747 Classic, DC-10, 727 or Tristar if none were ex-FEs themselves. But I don't think I would like to be a fare-paying passenger on such a flight!
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Old 12th Dec 2008, 12:52
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Yes I've kinda done it - Not takeoff or landing, but in the cruise for hours while the other two crew slept.
It's possible to set up a lot of the FE's panel before takeoff and landing to make it all work. Though to make it work properly an FE is most definitely required! That also presupposes that nothing is going to go wrong.
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Old 12th Dec 2008, 13:45
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In the USA isn't it a requirement that one of the pilots be able to operate the F/E panel, though no certificate is requied ?
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Old 12th Dec 2008, 16:11
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The interesting case was the 737-100/200, for which ALPA contracts required the FE, and non-union airlines flew without FE. In 1980 as the DC9-80 neared certification, McDouglas, having promised to never certify another non-FE airplane after the DC-9, was getting hit hard by ALPA. McD called the DC9-80 a follow-on, and not a new plane.

A study was then released showing the two-crew 737 had by far the best safety record of any plane, followed by the DC-9 and the three-crew 737.

ALPA dropped its objection to no FE, and within a year McDuck changed the name to MD-80.

GB
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Old 12th Dec 2008, 16:36
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tristar

Seeing as Arizona has not replied yet, I will pass on the situation this side of the pond.

I cannot speak for the 747 Classic, but on the TriStar, BA used to fly with 3 pilots, same as the Trident.

It didn`t seem to cause any trouble & was only changed for routes outside Europe where a Longhaul F/E was carried.

I well remember that Cairo was a Shorthaul Captain & First Officer with a Longhaul F/E & that DID cause problems!!

tristar 500
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Old 12th Dec 2008, 17:51
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It is possible to fly just about any aircraft as a single pilot, given enough time to prepare.
Probably, though I cannot see why.

FAR 125.263 says that

(c) On each flight requiring a flight engineer, at least one flight crewmember, other than the flight engineer, must be qualified to provide emergency performance of the flight engineer's functions for the safe completion of the flight if the flight engineer becomes ill or is otherwise incapacitated. A pilot need not hold a flight engineer's certificate to perform the flight engineer's functions in such a situation.
Somewhere else in FARs, cannot find where, is the requirement that no transport plane may become unsafe by incapacitation of any one flight crew member. Two pilot planes meet this by ensuring that either of the pilots could fly the plane alone.

But what about three required crew planes? There s no requirement that any plane should be flyable with two crew incapacitated. Two pilot planes routinely crash with both pilots incapacitated (see Helios).

So, there is no requirement that it should be possible to fly a three flight crew plane with two crew incapacitated and one pilot left. Can they in practice be flown so?

Also, when one of three is incapacitated, is it safer to fly with both pilot positions occupied and FE post empty, or with FE post occupied and one pilot seat empty?
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Old 12th Dec 2008, 17:59
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Also, when one of three is incapacitated, is it safer to fly with both pilot positions occupied and FE post empty, or with FE post occupied and one pilot seat empty?
In my opinion, formed from 7,000 hours in 727s, I would definitely say the left seat and the FE seat to be occupied in that situation.

Come to think about it, I've flown with some co-pilots (okay, okay, FOs) that for all intent and purposes the right seat was empty.

In fact on one takeoff in the 727 the FE may have saved our lives. When I called for the first flap reduction, at 500 feet AGL, the guy in the right seat put the flap handle to full up/clean position. The FE saw him do that and yelled at me to get the nose down and start building up airspeed, then the FE put the flap handle back to 10 degrees. To be honest I don't know if we would have stalled or not, but that was not the place to find out. It was a hot day and we were at gross for the conditions.

Yes, the co-pilot bought all of our drinks that night and I paid for the FE's dinner. Actually the guy in question turned out to be a really good pilot, that was like a wake-up call to him.

Oh, one other thing, after this we changed our procedures to first flap retraction at 1,000 feet AGL.

Last edited by con-pilot; 12th Dec 2008 at 18:18.
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Old 12th Dec 2008, 20:54
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Flight Detent, as eckhard said

so to 'operate' one properly one needs a trained and qualified guy or gal in each of the three seats.


There is no reason to assume that he thinks that he is higher than anyone else.

He isn't saying that he can operate it well so there's no need for mentioning the twelve year old boy is there.

I suggest you calm down and brush up in your interpretation skills, you are way over the top.
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Old 12th Dec 2008, 21:35
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Might get away with until something goes wrong...

Surely the reason for having the FE is to monitor the systems on the FE panel and take appropriate actions if things start to go pear-shaped?

I can quite believe it would be possible to operate a 3-crew aircraft with 2 pilots in normal circumstances, but in an emergency situation?!? Would you really want one of the pilot's to unstrap and play at being the FE while the other pilot flew? Surely that would remove a lot of the safety that comes from having the non-handling pilot watching, assisting and cross-checking the handling pilot's actions and decisions.

I would definitely not want to be on an aircraft in that situation...
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Old 13th Dec 2008, 00:34
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767 Also

Further to my post above, many of you should remember the first few 767 were built with FE position. They converted them to two crew after ALPA conceded.

GB
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Old 13th Dec 2008, 02:34
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Greybeard:

Weren't some of those B767's actually delivered to Ansett with the F/E panels still installed and went into service that way?

John Tullamarine: any info on these planes?

GF

C-P

I agree on where to put the two pilots in a B727, but Flaps 10? Which had a detent between 5 and 15?

GF
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Old 13th Dec 2008, 02:35
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I've always wanted to solo a B747-200 (in a simulator). That being said, a major reason I have not gone from the -200 to the -400 is that I really want an engineer when the fecal matter impacts the compressor.
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Old 13th Dec 2008, 02:52
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3 Crew aircraft flown by only 2 Crew

I have read the posts on this subject posted to date. The question is really a "no-brainer". Aircraft designed to have three crew in operating crew positions may only be operated with three crew. "Can" they be flown with less than three crew? Of course they bloody well can, but not "operated". Professional F/E's, just like professional Pilots, take great pride in what they contribute to the overall operation. The aircraft designers determine how many crew are required. Certification mandates it. Most pilots with whom I flew accepted that the F/E was the "Technical expert" on the flightdeck and, as far as I'm aware, most F/E's respected that the pilots were the ones charged with flying the aircraft. That said, it was very rare in my experience for the operation to not be a real "team" effort, each with clearly defined duties and a common desire to make the operation as smooth and as least stressful as possible.

Personally, I think the removal of the F/E was more to do with what the "bean counters" believed than what the operational side of aviation thought best. I guess the Radio Operators, then the Navigators felt much as I do about being replaced by technology. It probably won't be long before the next step, i.e. just a dog and a pilot up front, is taken. Just remember, the pilot will only be there to feed the dog and the dog will only be there to bite the pilot if he goes to do the wrong thing!!

Merry Christmas all from one old F/E who can remember the "good old days"
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Old 13th Dec 2008, 12:27
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"Weren't some of those B767's actually delivered to Ansett with the F/E panels still installed and went into service that way?"

Due to an agreement with the union, the B767 was classed as a long haul aircraft and therefore required a F/E. The fact that it was designed without one didn't seem to matter. The aircraft had to be modified to accommodate this, which made them a little difficult to sell on. People wonder why they went bust.
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Old 13th Dec 2008, 12:37
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Originally Posted by tristar 500 View Post
I well remember that Cairo was a Shorthaul Captain & First Officer with a Longhaul F/E & that DID cause problems!!
That was yet another typical Back Every Afternoon Shorthaul compromise that just didn't really work ...

Give me a Flight Engineer in the third seat any day - they're worth their weight in gold!!


JD
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Old 13th Dec 2008, 15:30
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There was once a TWA Connie capt who was tasked to crew a ship on ferry from Kansas City Muni to the maint. base at Fairfax - a 5 min. flight across the Missouri river.

He grew tired of waiting for the other 2 crew to show up - so he told the line boy to pull back the boarding steps, closed the door, slid in the F/E seat to start the engines, then moved up to l/h seat and proceeded to take off and fly gear down and flaps 20 to destination.

He probably had a bigger handful than the same exercise in a 74 classic or 3-holer.

I suspect that he was in a big hurry to go on vacation...
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