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Use of Automation Policy in Airlines?

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Use of Automation Policy in Airlines?

Old 1st Jul 2009, 11:47
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Use of Automation Policy in Airlines?

Hello people,

In an airline, if I disengaged the AP above 1000 ft in final I was considered a risktaker. And I had to engage it just after lift off. If I did not, the captain did. It was not written, but that was their policy.

In other airline, I could fly fully automated from lift off to just above minimum or enjoy a pure raw data, no FD, no ATHR ILS from 10,000. Again, nothing was written in the SOP regarding that.

I would like to know what is the policy in other airlines regarding the use of automation, wether a written policy or not.

Thank you
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Old 1st Jul 2009, 12:05
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We live in a very commercial world and for most companies their priorities are the safety and comfort of their passengers so that they return to fly again. Most companies will expect you, the pilot, to use your experience and training to know when it is quite safe and comfortable to hand fly, without overloading the PNF and when it would be prudent to use automation.
In my last airline it was mandatory, out of LHR, to engage the autopilot at 400' and fly the SID in LNAV so that noise monitoring points were overflown/passed at the optimum height and track, this worked and violations were few. Similarly if visibility was 1500meters or below then an autoland was recommended, the wording was, "should be carried out". Other wise it was left to our own judgement.

If the weather is fine, the ATC environment is not too busy and the hand flying is smooth then it is to be encouraged but if any of these three conditions can't be met then, in the interests of safety and passenger comfort partial or full use of automation should be considered.
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Old 1st Jul 2009, 12:38
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when it is quite safe and comfortable to hand fly, without overloading the PNF
I can't believe what I am reading here! "Without over-loading the PNF?"
Why on earth should the non-flying pilot be "over-loaded" if he is a competent pilot. Go back in aviation history to when real men were flying wartime bombers with the most rudimentary autopilots and getting shot at and no weather radar either. Hand flying was the norm and the copilot did his own job waiting to take control if the captain got hit. And no one complained then of "over-loading" the copilot.

Get a grip. Of course common sense dictates that full use of the automatics in modern airliners maybe operationally necessary to keep within tight tolerances on some noise sensitive departures. On the other hand, following the flight director if manual flying the departures will also keep the track within tolerances. After all, isn't that why aircraft have expensive goodies like flight directors?

Much of the objection to keeping one's hand in by hand flying, comes from those who are well aware of their own lack of piloting skill, and assume others have a similar inadequacy due either laziness or personal apprehension of exposing their rustiness to a keen pilot in the other seat. But "overloading" a PNF? If that is so then the PNF needs re-training to enable him to cope with his normal duties.

A pilot should be equally skillful at hand flying without the benefit of flight directors and autothrottles, - and at full use of automatics. 50/50 - not 70/20, in favour of automatics skills. Until this is accepted, then history will inevitably repeat itself and accidents will continue to happen caused by loss of control - in fact Loss of Control has already overtaken CFIT as the leading factor in airline aircraft accidents.
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Old 1st Jul 2009, 13:47
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Much of the objection to keeping one's hand in by hand flying, comes from those who are well aware of their own lack of piloting skill, and assume others have a similar inadequacy due either laziness or personal apprehension of exposing their rustiness to a keen pilot in the other seat.
Happy to say this doesn't apply to me, nor, anywhere in my post, did I suggest it might, nor did I suggest that an erosion of hand flying skills was acceptable.

Never mind all this 'get a grip' macho nonsense TeeEmm, when in a busy and congested TMA with multiple configuration and frequency changes plus check lists a sensible distribution of the workload is the safe way to go, may be you haven't experienced it yet? From your strange, bad tempered outburst it certainly sounds like it. It is all about good flight deck management skills and airmanship. I hope you are not one of those hardy types who disconnects at 10,000 regardless and continues on in to, say, CDG leaving your colleague to cope with everything whilst you sit their, hands firmly on the controls, singing out your requirements? As I said in my post, it is a matter of judgement and good judgement is what you are paid for as well as looking after your passengers and aircraft, exposing all to the minimum of risk.

The majority of recent accidents/incidents involving loss of control appear to have more to do with electronics that go haywire and bits that fall off, rather than any basic weakness in hand flying, indeed, when was the last CFIT due to sub-standard hand flying?

Last edited by parabellum; 1st Jul 2009 at 13:57.
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Old 1st Jul 2009, 15:01
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I can't believe what I am reading here! "Without over-loading the PNF?"
New speak for...'I don't trust other guy, so I had better keep a close eye on him.'
Why on earth should the non-flying pilot be "over-loaded" if he is a competent pilot.
They shouldn't, if properly trained.
On the other hand, following the flight director if manual flying the departures will also keep the track within tolerances. After all, isn't that why aircraft have expensive goodies like flight directors?
Yup.
Much of the objection to keeping one's hand in by hand flying, comes from those who are well aware of their own lack of piloting skill, and assume others have a similar inadequacy....
My thoughts exactly.

Lockheed developed the most automated first generation wide-body jet transport (by a very large measure), and where I was trained on the type (nearly thirty years ago) the airline specified that the Commander and First Officer both be competant in both hand flying and the full use of automatics, not one to the exclusion of the other....and yes, even at LHR, which is no more difficult nor easy than at least half a dozen other airports that I can think of offhand.

Today, still flying the 'ole Lockheed airplane, our First Officers hand fly when they so desire, Captains likewise....as it is entirely up to them, under most conditions.
The exceptions?
RVSM and CATII.

Keep up the reasonable comments, Tee Emm, as a few here will try to drown you out with 'new speak' nonsense.
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Old 1st Jul 2009, 15:41
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All points well taken and no argument from me at this juncture. However, as I'm sure you are aware there are a number of RNP/SAAR approaches and arrivals that mandate the use of the auto flight system through out the procedure.

Just saying!
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Old 1st Jul 2009, 15:52
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Go back in aviation history to when real men were flying wartime bombers with the most rudimentary autopilots and getting shot at and no weather radar either.
Although it should be noted that loss rates were extremely high - and loss rates due to accidents were comparable to losses caused by enemy action. Just a thought.

But "overloading" a PNF? If that is so then the PNF needs re-training to enable him to cope with his normal duties.
Well, I'd say any idiot can overload their PNF if they put their mind to it, whether hand flying or not. Who needs retraining? The overload-er, or the overload-ee?

pb
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Old 1st Jul 2009, 16:43
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Who needs retraining? The overload-er, or the overload-ee?
A very valid point, Capt Pit Bull, in fact I have known a few Commanders who ride the First Officer continually, without good reason....nag, nag, nag.
These folks should be expunged from the LHS, in my considered opinion.
Many times they are a safety hazard unto themselves.
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Old 1st Jul 2009, 20:02
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what is the policy in the airlines you know?

Hi
I agree with you. Essentialy that would be my policy if I wrote the SOPs in my airline.
I would like to know what are the different policies in the airlines you people are flying or have flown. Specially I would like to know if there is something written about it in any SOPs, OM or any other company document.

thanks
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Old 1st Jul 2009, 20:33
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Never mind all this 'get a grip' macho nonsense Tee Emm ..... may be you haven't experienced it yet?

I would observe that Tee Emm has done all of the above, many times over, during a flying career well in excess of 50 years. Not only that, he can still fly the bird with great smoothness and dexterity .. AND maintain an ATPL medical. This chap is not one of the ordinary folk. Were I able to fly half as well, I would be extremely pleased with myself ...

What he is trying to highlight, I suggest, is the thought that folk should have high levels of competence both in hand flying AND button pushing activities - each being a sensible complement of the other - as well as an overall high standard of aircraft flight management/SA/etc./etc. and all that those concepts entail.

That he espouses raw data hand flying is a personal skills preference only - he doesn't, anywhere, suggest that incompetence at autoflight management is in any way a desirable pilot trait.
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Old 2nd Jul 2009, 02:55
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Parrabellum wrote;
The majority of recent accidents/incidents involving loss of control appear to have more to do with electronics that go haywire and bits that fall off, rather than any basic weakness in hand flying, indeed, when was the last CFIT due to sub-standard hand flying?
About two months ago on approach to land in Amsterdam? Or was that sub standard auto flight?
I trust you are suitably chastened by JTs response to your upbraiding of Tee Emm; few posts doesn't mean few hours here on PPRuNe!
Basic flying skills MUST be practiced whenever possible for the very reasons given; when it all goes belly up, as it inevitably will, as has been shown in the past, then the only thing that saves the day is the ability to put the aircraft the right way up, with the right amount of power to guide the lump of metal safely earthwards.
There is no failed, powerless, degraded, iced up automatic system in the world that can ever tell me when the aircraft is the right way up when in IMC in cloud at night. Maybe my cheeks won't do it either but my piece of string with a weight on it clipped to the eye rail will!
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Old 2nd Jul 2009, 03:46
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I trust you are suitably chastened by JTs response to your upbraiding of Tee Emm

Please don't think that I was criticising Parabellum. He, also, is a very experienced pilot and one whom I regard highly... and I love his motto.

The point of my post was to try to steer the discussion back onto the main points in contention. As always, the aim of the game is to play the ball, not the player.

but my piece of string with a weight on it clipped to the eye rail will!

.. actually, that doesn't work unless you manage to maintain steady straight and level flight by some other means ... such a weight is subject to the net force vector, not gravity alone.

The weight will get you into strife very quickly. Was it Bob Hoover who did the "barrel roll while filling a glass of water" party trick ? .. same thing applies.
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Old 2nd Jul 2009, 06:55
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Even hand flying is a team thing on a widebody! PNF while the other pilot is flying is also a skill to be practised and enjoyed .

The PNF`s job is to clear the road and sweep up behind - a well synchronised team is awesome to watch. A PNF should not feel loaded/stressed, thats why when possible its important for the CREW to get in some hand flying and stay current.
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Old 2nd Jul 2009, 10:09
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policies?

Thanks for your coments, guys, but...

Does your airline have a particular policy regarding hand flying and use of automation?
I really would like to know.
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Old 2nd Jul 2009, 12:07
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The plumb bob would only give erroneous information whilst an external input is continuously applied, turning, accelerating, climbing or decending. Once that input is removed, the plumb bob would give accurate vertical information.
A sensible power setting, along with removal of inputs to the side stick/control column (not a natural response, I know) would soon indicate the correct recovery action required.
Loud rushing sound getting louder, pull up; very quiet or buffeting, push the nose down. Let go and follow the lead given by the lead weight to re-establish which way is up. Don't touch a thing until your ears have recovered.
It worked on gliders before I flew powered aircraft, along with a bit of wool on a stick in front of my nose. Admittedly it was in the airflow outside but the basic principle holds good.
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Old 2nd Jul 2009, 12:20
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From the OM: "It is encouraged to regulary hand fly the aircraft on departure and aproach, both with or without the flight-director".


Automatisation DOES improve the safety of aviation, but ONLY when being backed up by solid stick-and-rudder experience/ capabilities by the pilots. This you will NEVER gain when just doing 1 hand-flown approach in the sim every 6 months and putting the AP on/off at 500'. It is these "pilots", and these airlines who are most dangerous in the commercial aviation nowadays.

If one gets nervous when having to fly raw-data or if a PM can't follow when his/her collegue flies the aircraft as it was intended to (manually), then that person must ask serious questions wether a job on the ground isn't better suited for him/her.

It seems that there is a big "cultural" difference too regarding automation.
British airlines/flightcrew seem to focus more on the use of their AP, wether most other European carriers promote raw-data flying.
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Old 2nd Jul 2009, 12:22
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Hi Microburst,

Sorry, I am in part responsible for the divergence of your thread.

Companies are loathe to lay down SOPs lest they later get caned by a law suite. If the aircraft has no automation the company is in the clear, if it is 100% automation the company is in the clear but in between, as most modern aircraft are, should they lay down an SOP and an accident occur then they could find themselves liable. The LHR example I quoted earlier was SOP because experience had shown that the manually flown departures, using the flight director, simply wasn't as accurate as that flown by the auto pilot. Likewise, stipulating that an auto land should be carried out under certain reduced visibility and cloud base criteria was derived from knowing that the automatics simply did a better job and reduced the chance of a GA or diversion, in the landing case passenger satisfaction and confidence may also enter the equation.

The most that you are likely to find in any operators ops. manual is something along the lines of, " Under the following circumstances auotoflight is mandatory", (that would be CatII/III landing and certain airfields for T/O, after a given height, like 400'). Outside of that they are not likely to commit themselves more than to say that whilst the full use of autoflight is recommended pilots are expected to maintain their hand flying skills when conditions permit. Possibly an extra paragraph about turbulence and auto flight. That was as much as we got in the SOPs of my last employer.

I think that major problems could arise when inexperienced pilots are flying highly automated aircraft in unsophisticated environments.

And no, Rubik, I don't feel in any way chastened!
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Old 2nd Jul 2009, 14:22
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The plumb bob would only give erroneous information whilst an external input is continuously applied, turning, accelerating, climbing or decending. Once that input is removed, the plumb bob would give accurate vertical information.
It would be in error any time you aren't in straight unaccelerated flight.

A sensible power setting, along with removal of inputs to the side stick/control column (not a natural response, I know) would soon indicate the correct recovery action required.
Removing control inputs will not make the aircraft flight path suddenly become fixed. Its still be turning and or accelerating unless you happened to be in the correct attitude for straight flight at whatever vertical speed you happen to have and also have the correct power set. In otherwords, if you're already recovered. So your technique is actually not valid until the recovery is already complete, because thats the only time your plumb bob is reliable.

Loud rushing sound getting louder, pull up
Better hope the bank angle is not too large, or you'll be pulling the wings off before the airspeed trends the correct way. Better hope its not >90.

It worked on gliders before I flew powered aircraft, along with a bit of wool on a stick in front of my nose. Admittedly it was in the airflow outside but the basic principle holds good.
In cloud at night? Because that was your original condition in the previous post.

I'm sorry, but the idea that a plumb bob can be used as an alternate to a standby attitude indicator is complete rubbish.

If nothing else, look at it this way.... if it was a simple, foolproof, reliable method how come it isn't standard fit?

pb
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Old 2nd Jul 2009, 14:29
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Automation policy

From the OM in my company:

"Flight crew must remain competent to use all levels of automation (including no automation)

The pilot flying or commander shall decide the level of automation to be used to ensure maximum safety, taking into account the existing conditions. This level of automation must be compatible with the phase of flight (RVSM, AWO, RNAV…) and airplane limitations as described in OM part B.


The company recommends pilots to use the level of automation they prefer. In normal weather conditions (not necessarily VMC) and taking into account ATC workload, the AFDS may be switched off and hand-flying-raw-data skills can be maintained respecting passenger comfort and smooth flight at all times."


This means that we can fly raw data whenever we want except when it is legally required. I like it this way. When companies tell you to put the autopilot on from 400 ft till 200 ft GND it would be really boring...





Last edited by rvblyky7; 2nd Jul 2009 at 14:30. Reason: bold text for some kind of weird reason
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Old 2nd Jul 2009, 17:29
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or if a PM can't follow when his/her collegue flies the aircraft as it was intended to (manually), then that person must ask serious questions wether a job on the ground isn't better suited for him/her.
If all the PM had to do was follow when his/her colleague flies the aircraft then I would see your and other posters' point.

However, in the modern cockpit, monitoring the handling pilot is simply one of many functions that the PM is required to complete.

As someone said earlier, when hand-flying, the handling pilot is expected according to most SOPs to request the PM to carry out most actions that do not involve the primary flight controls or throttles and especially ones that distract the pilot from their primary flight instruments.

During a busy departure, you can either have;

PM;

Makes all required radio calls
Tunes the next frequency
Sets and identifies the raw data to crosscheck the lnav
Sets the cleared level in the window
Sets the speed (requested y the handling pilot)
Sets the heading bug (requsted by the handling pilot)
updates the FMS with direct-to and removes no applicable level / speed restrictions etc
configuration changes when requested
maintaining the legally required lookout

and on top of that keeping a eye on the handling pilot

All while the handling pilot simply flies the aircraft

If on the other hand, the autopilot is used then

PM

Makes all required radio calls
Tunes the next frequency
Sets and identifies the raw data to crosscheck the Lnav
configuration changes when requested
maintaining the legally required lookout

and the Handling pilot

Sets the cleared level in the window
Sets the speed (requested y the handling pilot)
Sets the heading bug (requsted by the handling pilot)
updates the FMS with direct-to and removes no applicable level / speed restrictions etc
maintaining the legally required lookout

Aside from the fact that the workload is more balanced and both pilots can maintain a good lookout is there anyone who seriously thinks that the second case is not far better Crew Resource Management?

Regards,

DFC
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