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Your airlines' policy about the use of automation during flight?

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Your airlines' policy about the use of automation during flight?

Old 13th Jun 2011, 12:01
  #61 (permalink)  
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I am an advocate of hand flying as often as possible, but in IMC it is better just to use at least the FD, just in case any abnormal situation happens to occur that day. Things probably will get worse than in a hand flown case in such a scenario.
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Old 13th Jun 2011, 15:34
  #62 (permalink)  
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Appropriate level of automation - that includes telling the other guy to turn on, or off, the a/p if they, or the a/p, isn't getting the job done.
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Old 13th Jun 2011, 21:26
  #63 (permalink)  
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The aircraft bizarrely started to climb at the FAF
Sure it wasn't just going for the missed approach altitude, that being the next 'hard' one in the box if you don't put anything in after the FAF?

(Just curious, it happened to me during my intro. to FMCs in a B737-300 in 1986, training sector, training capt. let it all continue as a demonstation of what can happen, sent back to read the books, emphasis on 'hard' altitudes etc.! - dumped VNav and used Fl Change with speed intervention thereafter.)

Last edited by parabellum; 13th Jun 2011 at 23:23.
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Old 13th Jun 2011, 22:33
  #64 (permalink)  
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Not to worry everyone! It seems that a PPRuNe detective has already appeared on the scene.

For god's sake.
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Old 13th Jun 2011, 23:11
  #65 (permalink)  
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Ah yes, the standard, quite useless, sniping one liner we have come to expect from d105. Go to bed old chap, sleep it off.
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Old 13th Jun 2011, 23:53
  #66 (permalink)  
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I only learned to fly properly when I was sent to Belgium and flew with ex-Sabena captains, in 8 months I learned how to go from autopilot monkey to being able to fly raw data down to minimums. I fly the 737-8 and every day now, and I feel my skills get better as I strap the aircraft to my back and fly it raw data. (most days) But, the problem lies, that in my opinion, modern commercial pilots are depending on automation too much. Time and time again, I have seen pilots in CAVOK conditions with calm wind keep the autopilot in until minimums, then disconnect and fly the aircraft (badly) down to the runway. Whyyyyyyyyyyyyyy?????

I feel that the skills of pilots are degrading due to the amount of automation encompassed within the modern day aircraft. The airlines are also to blame, as recurrent training generally does not include basic instrument flying skills. Initial line training on the aircraft, we are told, engage the autopilot, nail the flight directors, and I feel this is wrong. I've seen experienced captains with thousands of hours, follow the FD's in the wrong direction to the left or right, and descending, when we should be climbing! Very dangerous.

My normal day at work starts during the briefing, when I ask the other guy or girl, do you mind if I hand fly the aircraft up. Usually this is met by hostility, why? The question begs, are pilots afraid to fly?
When it is not met by hostility I explain I will be doing it raw data, with my flight director off. Many people seem shocked and become anxious. But most will allow me to do it, when I explain that if there are any problems or non-normal situations I will engage the autopilot.
I fly the aircraft off the runway, with BOTH flight directors on, as this provides a safety net in case of engine failure. I want to practice my flying skills, but I would like to have guidance or help in an emergency situation.
At 400 I switch my F/D off and tell the other pilot to keep theirs on. This allows me too quickly to re-engage the autopilot and F/D if we have any problem, allowing the MCP to be still used. Usually at this stage I will fly the aircraft past flight level 100 and put my flight director on and engage the auto pilot before flight level 245. As this is what it states in my operations manual.
During the cruise when I am briefing my approach and arrival I explain, that I will disconnect early again. I disconnect early depending on which airspace we are flying. If it is London TMA, I will leave it later if it is somewhere very quiet like Poland I will disconnect earlier.
Again on disconnecting I will switch off my flight director or both if the other pilot is happy. Raw data ILS or NPA is more difficult in my opinion than the standard departure. So I like to practice this often. I do this almost every day, and feel, that this is making me a better pilot.

Unfortunately everyday line pilots have in my opinion become complacent. The skills are lost due to a reliance on the autopilot and flight director system.
Most pilots I have flown with frown upon manual raw data departures and approaches. This is a mindset that has crept into modern aviation and it in my opinion will cause a human factor accident or incident when the auto pilot and flight director system fails!

As a pilot, ask yourself, would you be able to fly the aircraft raw data should the need arise?

So, I am now currently writing a guide for any other B738 operator on how to fly correctly, and build up to gaining your raw data skills back.

With many guys, it is not that they do not have the skills, but the fact that laziness and being afraid to fly (due to company) has crept in. The key to this is safety, choose your moments, don't be stupid for example flying raw data in a TS!

I am hoping my flight training department will be happy to receive it, but who knows! Gladly my airline allows "manual practice" but surely we are pilots and we should be allowed to fly?

Last edited by john_tullamarine; 14th Jun 2011 at 03:07.
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Old 14th Jun 2011, 04:01
  #67 (permalink)  
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I fly the aircraft off the runway, with BOTH flight directors on, as this provides a safety net in case of engine failure. I want to practice my flying skills, but I would like to have guidance or help in an emergency situation
I have always found that concentrating solely on the flight directors following an engine failure after take off increases the work load significantly since the intense scrutiny needed to keep the needles exactly centred leaves no time to be aware of what is happening outside of the immediate area of the instrument.

The slightest aircraft attitude may cause one or both of the two needles to change position and one is automatically driven to `follow` them blindly at the expense of other things around you.

In the simulator, I have seen many pilots lose the plot due to over controlling when they over-react to flight director information and chase the offending needle (s) in order get things squared away. One man's `chasing` is another man's `correcting. Everyone's a critic when this happens. ... and doesn't it piss you off when the instructor steadily intones "fly the bloody needles".

The technique this scribe favours with an engine failure after take off, is to immediately use the standby ADI as the primary attitude reference. Of course there will be howls of indignation from FD aficionado's. Yet there is also evidence that some pilots are seriously spooked by FD needles during coping with engine failures. The slightest yaw produces rapid needle movement and in the haste to get the needles squared away in quick time, pilots may over-control causing more fluctuation of the FD needles.

It then becomes a vicious circle rather like trying to control a dutch roll. Although some instructors exhort their students to "look through" the FD needles to see what the primary ADI is telling them, I find the FD needles often cover the pitch indications on the face of the ADI and again this causes loss of concentration on what should be a simple task of flying the appropriate pitch attitude for the circumstances.

If there is a knack to "looking through" FD needles to see what the primary ADI is displaying behind the needles, then this suggests that FD are over-rated and may cause more grief than they are supposed to prevent

The beauty of switching one's glance to the standby ADI for basic climb out attitude is that it is unencumbered by superfluous other information. In the simulator I have observed others who admit to shamelessly disregarding the `dancing needles` of the FD information in favour of the pure instrument flying ability needed to use the standby ADI.

Choosing to switch off the flight director if it is distracting you from the prime job of flying the aircraft accurately on one engine will generally arouse the ire of some simulator instructors. They forget that flight directors are an aid - not a `you will crash without them`, item.

Switching your scan directly to the standby ADI solves the problem because the instructor wouldn't have a clue where you are looking. To students who have difficulty and are spooked by the FD needles during engine failure after lift off, my advice is to use the standby ADI every time. In every case that I have seen (hundreds during type rating training in the simulator) it has worked and they have had no further problem with accuracy of climb out. The fascinating part is that after using the standby ADI as primary attitude instrument the FD needles are magically centred.

Last edited by Centaurus; 14th Jun 2011 at 04:27.
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Old 14th Jun 2011, 07:57
  #68 (permalink)  
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I am SO GLAD and conforted that our industry is not lost yet, and that common sense and airmanship still exists among PPRuNe members.

FD are there to give you guidance. (at least the cross-bars). They are a tendency indicator, indicating what George would do. George has no brain, only a chip.
You, the pilot have the brain and are the ultimate checker and decisionmaker. NEVER GEORGE. See through the F/D when using it.
Once people "get" this, they will start flying smoother. A remedy I often use with FO's who are "less than smooth" in their controls. Is to let them fly the aircraft by putting F/D's off and then telling them to control the aircraft with putting pressure on the yoke by only using the "pushing" hand. Smoothly and without yanking like a horny teenager
It almost always result in a confortable flight, happy passengers and crew and a happy aircraft

For the Engine failure: remember that on some variants of the Boeing, the FD is not to be followed in the original aftermath from a failure. Keep your track to the original RWY (so important!), keep your pitch for the required speed. Do not pump but be gentle, your plane has just lost half of her juice, she is upset...


Despegue "the Belgian".
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Old 14th Jun 2011, 11:19
  #69 (permalink)  
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Sounds like you are an FR pilot not based in the UK.

One of the best things about this company is the raw data flying!!

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Old 14th Jun 2011, 13:13
  #70 (permalink)  
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First of all, I would like to thank Irishpilot1990, Microburst2002 and Mrs-rodge-bless-her for their comments about Sabena pilots. I'll take that as a compliment!

I'm glad to see that almost everybody seems to agree that it is necessary to stay proficient in handflying airliners with raw data!

A quote from paull (#47):
I understand the need to stay competent with manual flying but I have a fear that the lawyers might one day restrict the choice. You are handflying on Flight XXX and an accident results. The victim's lawyers have access to a report saying that the safest thing to do is have A/P engaged. Saying that handflying on Flight XXX is for the benefit of all other subsequent flights might not be easy to argue and unless your airline can prove the long-term benefit of having a minimum of handflying practice then do they leave themselves open to higher risk/legal claims?
I would like to argue that there are quite a few accidents resulting from badly using/understanding/monitoring the automatics. The Turkish crash in AMS and the Air Inter crash in Strasbourg immediately come to mind. Those crashes would not have happened if a pilot would have been handflying.

I am convinced that pilots should use the automatics intelligently. That includes using the automatics when there is a good reason to use them and NOT to handfly the beast when there's a good reason not to! I remember when I was a 737-classic F/O in Sabena and flew with a very young captain who had just been promoted to the left seat. He was PF to a Scandinavian airport with snow and the cloud base and visibility reported very close to the minima with a 15 kts crosswind. He disconnected "everything" at 5000' and then handflew the 737 perfectly to the minima and landed perfectly. I still think he's a fool who was just trying to impress me. I can assure you that he didn't! Fortunately he was an exception at Sabena and almost all other captains were much smarter. Confronted with the same conditions now I would use the A320's auto-features to bring it on the ILS fully stabilised and then disconnect A/P and A/T to continue with the F/D on. Why not leave the A/T on and just disconnect the A/P at the minima you might ask?

Well, I believe that any pilot, after some practise, is more intelligent and better at managing thrust then the Airbus A/T system! This is what I wrote in an other post:
All pilots in my company will agree that we, as pilots, can do a better job then the A320 autothrust system. It's my experience that if you fly the A320 by hand but with A/T engaged in stormy and gusty conditions, the A/T is a very foolish "speedchasing device". For instance: when you're a little low, but a little high on speed -due to shifting winds for instance- the A/T will reduce thrust too much and not anticipate fast enough to stop you from getting in a nose high, low speed condition when you pull the sidestick to recover from your low trajectory. It appears to me that that is what happened to you during your flare.
I also believe that it's best to disconnect the A/P a little before the minima, especially in gusty and windy conditions, just to have a little more time to get it "in your hand" again.

I am very much in favour of using either all automatics (A/P, A/T + F/D) ON OR everything OFF. I think you could actually train a chimpanzee to follow a flight director, so I do not like it very much when one of my F/o's keeps handflying the A320 with F/D on during climb until long after flap retraction. What's the point??? Any chimpanzee can do that! The same during approach. What use can it have to fly a descent + final app with A/P off but F/D and A/T engaged? You don't have to think or keep situational awareness for that. Just smoothly follow the F/D cross!

So this is my own personal policy: Take off is done in the "normal" Airbus way with F/D on. I usually engage the A/P when the flaps are up. (I leave the A/P to do the chimp's job) Once in a while I'll do a take off with the F/D's off. (as per the procedure in FCOM 4.05.30 P5) And yes, handling an engine failure with F/D off would not be a problem! (We have been taught to initially rotate up to 12,5 deg and fly through the F/D's anyway in such a case.)

Every time I do not feel too tired, traffic is not too busy and the weather is not too lousy or I can't come up with a good reason why I shouldn't, somewhere during the descent I will switch to handflying the ship.

I am 100 % convinced that, if common sense is used, this will not impair safety. On the contrary!!

So my advice to everybody is: use common sense, make sure you know how to handle the automation but also make sure you can handfly your A/C smoothly and accurately in any situation! You can only stay proficient by doing it regularly!


Last edited by sabenaboy; 14th Jun 2011 at 13:51.
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Old 15th Jun 2011, 06:18
  #71 (permalink)  
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I believe the FD can be a hinderence during the V1 cut. You have to fly through them to nail your pitch attitude (10 degrees for my type).

We had a manual handling sim session a few years ago, during that time we did some FD off EFATO training. As a whole this was flown a lot more accurately as the FD was not there to distract, just rotate to 10 degrees, then at acceleration pitch down to 7.5 degrees, seems to work very well.

I am lucky that I work for a company where manual flying is encouraged, it still amazes me how so few people,when it is appropriate, take the opportuntity. I started this job because of a love of flying, and flying is just what I look to do (just wish I did it better!).

Nothing like doing the visual valley arrival into INN flying the aircraft like a big Cessna, it's why I signed up.
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Old 15th Jun 2011, 08:01
  #72 (permalink)  
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10 degrees pitch up with EFATO?

@Gatbusdriver: I hope the "Current a/c Type" (330/320) in your profile is not up to date!

Last edited by sabenaboy; 15th Jun 2011 at 09:24. Reason: Rephrased
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Old 15th Jun 2011, 11:26
  #73 (permalink)  
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Hi John,

Google helped me find the Cathay 330/340 FCTM. It says:
At VR, rotate smoothly using a continuous, yet slightly slower pitch rate than with all engines operating, to an initial pitch attitude of 12.5. The combination of high FLEX temperatures and low V speeds requires precise handling during the rotation and lift-off. The 12.5 pitch target will ensure the aircraft becomes airborne.
I have no experience in the A330, but I think that pitching up to 10 only in the A320 in case of EFATO, will not get you airborne under ALL weight/flex thrust combinations. Is your company's FCTM provided by Airbus or was it made in house?

In the mean time I have looked at some of Gatbusdriver's previous posts and found out that he's on some Boeing-type lately.

Last edited by sabenaboy; 13th Apr 2012 at 05:23.
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Old 15th Jun 2011, 11:47
  #74 (permalink)  
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Hi Sabenaboy,

The FCTM continues to say:
The 12.5 pitch target will ensure the aircraft becomes airborne.
The SRS orders should then be followed which may demand a lower pitch attitude to acquire or maintain V2.
With practice, and especially on long runway lengths available, some crews use a slightly slower rotation rate and get airborne with an attitude closer to 10 degs pitch, at V2 and satisfy the SRS orders.
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Old 15th Jun 2011, 11:55
  #75 (permalink)  
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The SRS orders should then be followed which may demand a lower pitch attitude to acquire or maintain V2.
Yep, precisely, first make sure you get airborne and THEN follow the srs-orders (smoothly).

I'm not sure pitching up a 77 Ton A320 to 10 with reduced flex thrust will get you airborne. I'd say: go for 12,5 initially and then follow the srs as per FCTM!

Last edited by sabenaboy; 15th Jun 2011 at 12:05.
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Old 15th Jun 2011, 12:17
  #76 (permalink)  
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Hi Sabenaboy,
I'm not sure pitching up a 77 Ton A320 to 10 with reduced flex thrust will get you airborne.
If the SRS commands 10 degs pitch in order to maintain V2, then you will get airborne at that same pitch attitude.
The 12.5 degs is the datum to aim for to ensure you get airborne before the fence. If the runway is very long, what is the advantage of getting airborne with the speed below V2?
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Old 15th Jun 2011, 14:47
  #77 (permalink)  
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bit of thread drift:
12.5 is no holy number. at the end of the day you have to satisfy the regulations by crossing the threshold at V2 and 35ft minimum by flying whatever pitch that requires.
12.5 is for TOGA at medium weights. Other combinations of Flex, Weight and Vspeed optimization will require an adapted pitch. 10 deg will get you airborne at typical weight and flex without scraping the tail off.

I am very much in favour of manual flying. And I encourage all my F/O's to hand-fly as much as they want to under not too busy conditions.
My basic conviction is that any linepilot should be ABLE to fly a raw-data approach with manual thrust down to minimums at the operating limitation (xwind) of the a/c.
Would it be wise to this actually? Big No!! But you have to be ready to do it one day when things quit and raw data is the only thing left! So what better opportunity than to practice rawdata flying when the weather is nice with all the systems working normally?? It is your professional obligation to maintain and/or improve your manual skills! (also it is more fun and gives you more job satisfaction) And you know what you'd do when you become overloaded? Just connect the automatics again!! Win-win situation, risk-free!

I had an F/O one day telling me he would like to do some manual flying. Then at 1000ft RA with the AP still in I asked him about the manual flying. So he replied that it would not be wise to take the AP out now, as the landing clearance was not received yet!! In case of G/A blablablabla Hahaha. It makes me laugh, but cry at the same time. I've also flown with F/O's who were hesitant to accept a visual approach approach in CAVOK, no terrain and opted for the full procedural ILS as they were not confident; not having done any visual approach since line-training!! Ridiculous! A visual approach is a normal procedure in the SOP and it saves a lot of fuel and time!!

I hate to bash one specific country. But most if not all of the problems are with pilots from a specific Island. Pilots from continental Europe tend to be much more hands-on and less worried about liability and risk mitigation and actually like to fly the a/c!!

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Old 15th Jun 2011, 16:08
  #78 (permalink)  
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12,5 or 10?

Hi rudderrudderrat,

If don't feel the need to start an argument about a few degrees (or inches ) with you. So if 10 works for you, be my guest.

I know from more then 20 Pc's in the A320 that a smooth rotation to 12,5 works fine for me all the time, whatever the weight or flex. (I can't recall ever finding myself below V2 when airborne) I'm not sure that 10 pitch up will ever get me climbing away on one engine at MTOW at a 4000m rwy? So I'll stick to the exact procedure I can find in the FCTM.

I suggest we return to the topic.


Last edited by sabenaboy; 13th Apr 2012 at 05:19.
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Old 15th Jun 2011, 18:22
  #79 (permalink)  
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How is it possible that we must carry out a number of autolands every six months (in actual CAT II, III or for practice only) to stay current in LVO and we don't have to carry out a number of raw data ILS to minima "to stay current in flying"?

Is it more difficult to autoland than to land?

If the answer is yes, then it should not be a problem (even from the point of view of liability) to hand fly an approach.

If the answer is no, then hand flying should be practiced in the same way as autolands in order to make sure that flight crews remain competent at hand flying an approach to minima.
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Old 15th Jun 2011, 20:45
  #80 (permalink)  
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Aerosafety World July 2010 has an interesting article about manual flying skills.
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