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If you have a choice at your airline - Airbus or Boeing?

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If you have a choice at your airline - Airbus or Boeing?

Old 14th May 2011, 04:25
  #61 (permalink)  
 
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I've worked on the entire airbus fleet ('cept the 380), am endorsed on 310's and the 320 family (19's 20's and 21's), as well as 747 classics, 767's, 737 classics, and 777's... From my perspective, both have their merits, and their downfalls...

For too long Boeing was unwilling to depart from the tried and true.... Airbus had to fiddle for a while to find the true while they tried...

I spoke with a Boeing aerodynamics engineer in 2000 or so... When I told him then I was impressed with some of the airbus treats that we lowly wrench turners appreciated... things like easy access... His response was as genuine as it was perplexing...: "I don't think we've ever spoken to the guys who fix them for their input." Whether true or not at the time, I do believe they Have done so since... the 777 is a fabulous plane to work on/fly in/play with!

....but I wonder how many Boeing pilots realize we could unplug their "control yokes" and plug in an Airbus style joystick to accomplish exactly what they do with all that extra hardware?.... It's just as FBW as the bus folks... it just pretends it isn't.
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Old 14th May 2011, 06:15
  #62 (permalink)  
 
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A strange way of looking at Boeings philosophy and I would turn your statement around and question instead the Airbus flight control system that isolates the Pilots from their Aircraft.


The best of both worlds would be connected, back driven sidesticks and throttles with soft limits a la Boeing.
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Old 14th May 2011, 07:43
  #63 (permalink)  
 
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the Airbus flight control system that isolates the Pilots from their Aircraft.
But the truth is, it does nothing of the sort...

....and why do you want back-driven sidesticks? Do you need artificial feel built into the power steering in your car, or can you feel what you're doing with your fanny? "Seat of the pants" wasn't just a phrase that meant 'very few instruments', was it?....

When you move a stick and feel the response with your whole body, what gain is there in adding artificial "feel" to the stick?
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Old 14th May 2011, 08:49
  #64 (permalink)  
 
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Because the response is also artificial, due to autotrim.
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Old 14th May 2011, 09:06
  #65 (permalink)  
 
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The 777 has a "back drive" system to move both Yokes together and thus represent a conventional Aircraft.

The benefits of this feature should be obvious for all to see but perhaps only Captains see it the clearest!!
The fact that I can immediately feel and see what my FO is doing at all times of the flight but especially in the Flare ( and Rotation ) is bloody good, but on the Airbus I'm totally at the wim of my FO. ( remembering it's still me that will 100% wear the can if he stuffs up ) On the AB below 100' as we enter the flare it's too late for me to take over and if I do it will probably just make things worse!!
On the Boeing I can simply "assist" him on the Yoke and know what's going on. ( Yes, there could be times that even on the Boeing I wouldn't be able to help )

Same goes for the Autothrust not moving on the AB, it works against me not knowing what the system is doing at all times instinctively.( as in the Boeing )

With regards to the mini groundspeed function of the AB Autothrust system, it can and does cause a "de-stabilized" approach with the Thrust moving back towards idle at low levels in an attempt to reduce toward VLS. If you don't watch yourself ( or indeed watch your FO ) this can cause a total cluster f*** approaching the flare when the Trim freezes at 100'. It's not un common for a hard landing ( or a long floater ) to result in this "out of sync situation"


So, on the AB the Pilot is forced into being more conscious of the actual N1 at all times because you can't rely on just seeing where the levers are any more.
The Pilot needs to be more conscious of what the other Pilot is doing on the Sidestick and what the Aircraft is doing in response to his inputs. Especially in inclement weather situations. As a Captain I am more reluctant to let the FO do the Landing in inclement weather for just the reasons above. Whereas in the Boeing I felt much more confident in my ability to "help him along" should the situation arise.


Having said all of that the system must work as thousands of Airbus land safely each and every day, it's just not a Pilot's Aircraft, more a computer game.

Now don't get me stared on the ECAM. It's not even close to being as good as the EICAS/Elec checklist on the 777. ( and now the 787, 748 )

Last edited by nitpicker330; 14th May 2011 at 09:32.
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Old 14th May 2011, 12:02
  #66 (permalink)  
 
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What you can do for your aircraft ? (Boeing)

What your aircraft can do for you? (Airbus)
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Old 14th May 2011, 12:11
  #67 (permalink)  
 
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Or
How can we help the pilot do his job ? (Boeing)

How can we prevent the pilot doing crazy things ? (Airbus)
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Old 14th May 2011, 12:17
  #68 (permalink)  
 
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Boeing - built by geniuses to be flown by idiots
Airbus - built by idiots to be flown by geniuses
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Old 14th May 2011, 17:36
  #69 (permalink)  
 
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Nitpicker330

That's the clearest and best description of the benefits of a back-driven yoke system I've ever seen. Makes perfect sense. Thanks for that.
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Old 15th May 2011, 15:38
  #70 (permalink)  
 
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nitpicker330 : But (as I said earlier) what if the backdriven sticks/yokes are inadvertently cross-wired, or wired in reverse? Then you have a force-feedback system working against you, and it would be very hard to work against it. As far as I know there's no way to easily disable the force-feedback system on the 777.

There are benefits to both philosophies, so playing one off against the other is a pointless exercise. If I get on an airliner as SLF, I want to know that the pilots are doing their job and not fantasising about how much like an old-school stick-and-rudder jockey they want to feel like today. If you want to do that, go hire a Stearman for a day!

DJ 77, Slasher - grow up. If you can say things as off-the-cuff and daft as that, then I might as well voice my opinion that a pilot who needs a large moving yoke between his legs to feel good about his job is obviously compensating for something...
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Old 15th May 2011, 17:19
  #71 (permalink)  
 
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I might as well voice my opinion that a pilot who needs a large moving yoke between his legs to feel good about his job is obviously compensating for something
Yes, you might but my advice is: don't do it. That would not make you look smarter.
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Old 15th May 2011, 17:35
  #72 (permalink)  
 
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I spoke with a Boeing aerodynamics engineer in 2000 or so... When I told him then I was impressed with some of the airbus treats that we lowly wrench turners appreciated... things like easy access... His response was as genuine as it was perplexing...: "I don't think we've ever spoken to the guys who fix them for their input." Whether true or not at the time, I do believe they Have done so since... the 777 is a fabulous plane to work on/fly in/play with!
Recall that during 777 design, Boeing hooted loudly about the wonders of the new CAD/CAM system they were using to design it. Adverts showed little computer-generated people proving easy access to internals. I wonder if they still use it.
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Old 15th May 2011, 17:45
  #73 (permalink)  
 
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I like to think I've earned enough karma on this board over the years to get away with a tongue-in-cheek facetious comment. Whether people want to think of me as smart or otherwise doesn't really concern me. As I've said many times, I'm not a pilot (I did a few years of AEF and AEG in the Air Training Corps before I got long hair, rock music and pacifism) - though I do have a passion for aviation and engineering that's been with me since childhood. I consider it an honour and a privilege to be allowed to communicate with you guys and learn facts about the things I love from the people who design, fly and maintain the aircraft that make it possible. That said, I'm not inclined to tug my forelock unthinkingly, and I will speak my mind if I don't think it will derail the conversation.

I was sad to see an honest question about the relative merits of Airbus and Boeing aircraft in day-to-day line flying (which flying environment do you prefer?) degenerate into the same old mudslinging that I've seen so many times on here over the last decade or so that it's almost painful to read.

And it always seems to end up with the same ill-informed things being said - variations on "I want to feel like a pilot, not a g*d-d*mned computer operator", or "Since when have the French ever made good aircraft?". Then someone will bring up Habsheim and regurgitate the old press inaccuracies about that incident, sometimes more recently we get the "weak composite tail lugs" rubbish - and the general feeling from the anti-Airbus side is a long-held seething resentment at the (false) idea that the design is intended to degrade the skills involved in line flying and ultimately lead to pilotless aircraft.

Those friendly to Airbus and their products aren't entirely blameless in this, but generally they seem to spend a lot of time patiently explaining the misconceptions in the face of people for whom it has become an almost religious argument. For once, I felt like expressing my frustration in a light-hearted, but open manner.
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Old 16th May 2011, 03:57
  #74 (permalink)  
 
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Redundancy

Joysticks and stationary throttle levers do the job, and you sense the results in seat of the pants, and your ears. Backdriven yokes and TLAs add a dimension of redundancy, and it's visual.

Turbulence or driving rain will drown out the g feel and audio feedback. That's when it's valuable to have visual feedback.

GB
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Old 16th May 2011, 09:25
  #75 (permalink)  
 
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Back driven Yokes working opposite each other???? Ahhhhhh..........Mmmmmm. I guess a Meteor could strike Seattle too.

Yes Thanks Greybeard, that's exactly my point, thanks...
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Old 16th May 2011, 11:54
  #76 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by nitpicker330 View Post
Back driven Yokes working opposite each other???? Ahhhhhh..........Mmmmmm. I guess a Meteor could strike Seattle too.
How so? They've wired up the sidesticks backwards before, and I maintain that the fact that the sidesticks aren't backdriven was one of the reasons it was possible to save the aircraft. Now, I'm sure that both Airbus (after that incident) and Boeing have done more than due diligence to prevent it from happening yet, but Murphy's Law has a habit of getting around the wiliest designers.

Greybeard's right (though I suspect he meant "tactile" rather than "visual"), but again, that's a single aspect of difference in philosophy - it doesn't make one philosophy as a whole empirically "better" or "safer" than the other. I say again, moving throttles didn't help the Turkish pilots at Schiphol.
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Old 16th May 2011, 14:18
  #77 (permalink)  
 
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One More Sensation

You just added another sensation, Dozy: Tactile. That makes two extra senses involved from backdrive. Thanks.

The Turkish crash had a whole lot of human factors holes. Ignoring the throttle arms was just one, and not a reason to dismiss backdrive.

GB
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Old 16th May 2011, 15:23
  #78 (permalink)  
 
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Graybeard:

I'm not dismissing backdrive at all! I'm simply saying that in engineering terms there are cases for, and cases against. Airbus chose one way (visual feedback on the pilot-commanded thrust setting at the lever position, and on the actual thrust commanded via the MFD - the "donuts") and Boeing chose another (visual and tactile feedback via backdriven thrust levers). Both approaches are equally valid and it's only natural that some will prefer one method to the other, and that's fine.

Where things get murky is when the assertion that some pilots prefer the backdriven design because it provides an extra feedback channel (and because it mimics older designs) gets transmogrified into effectively saying that one method is definitively safer than another, when there's no actual evidence to support that.
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Old 17th May 2011, 01:53
  #79 (permalink)  
 
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Sorry bud there have been incidents caused by "dual input" errors and other events such as heavy landings ( requiring main gear changes ) that occurred on the AB that probably would not have on a conventional aircraft where the Captain could have simply assisted on the yoke as required.
Sure I accept that on a conventional Aircraft the two Pilots can mistakenly work against each other effecting a safe outcome.
Nothing is perfect but I sure know which system I prefer.

Last edited by nitpicker330; 17th May 2011 at 02:08.
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Old 17th May 2011, 11:19
  #80 (permalink)  
 
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I'm talking about the B777 though, which is not a "conventional aircraft" as much as it is a computer simulation of one that happens to be built into an airframe.

Anyway - you don't *need* to "feel" what the other pilot is doing outside of a light trainer (though it's a nice to have for some).

There's no doubt that the envelope protections in the newer FBW aircraft have saved both airframes and lives over the years, and IMO that's far more important than appeasing the dinosaurs...
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