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Hand flying in todays jet transports

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Hand flying in todays jet transports

Old 11th Feb 2018, 03:09
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Stilton
But getting back to my point, why did you become a Pilot ?
To watch automation 99% of the time ?
My initial motivation was and remains the simple delight and satisfaction In accurate, smooth hand flying
That may be your motivation but the motivation to start an airline is not to give you thrill but to make money by safely transporting people. So as I said before manual flying should only be done to acquire/maintain the skill to enhance safety and not for any other purpose.
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Old 11th Feb 2018, 03:28
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As far as automation is concerned, would anybody welcome back cars that had manual chokes and manual ignition timing adjustment? Would any of us in our modern automatic cars want to go back to manual gearboxes, and a paper map on the passenger seat?
Funny, my three cars are manual. The daily runabout I wasnít fussed by, it just was, the Landcruiser I wanted a manual as I prefer the control off road on steep ground, and on my third I have just finished setting the points and am about to head out for some heel and toe fun. It does have synchro in the box but responds better and is more rewarding to drive assuming it doesnít.
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Old 11th Feb 2018, 03:31
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Vilas, Iím sure that you agree that having the ability to smoothly and accurately hand fly would assist the objective of safely transporting people be preventing accidents that were mentioned in the following paragraph! Seems like a perfect match.
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Old 11th Feb 2018, 04:19
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Originally Posted by vilas
Stilton
That may be your motivation but the motivation to start an airline is not to give you thrill but to make money by safely transporting people. So as I said before manual flying should only be done to acquire/maintain the skill to enhance safety and not for any other purpose.
I guess you are not going to hire me for your airline.
20 years in, flying the bus now, 90% of the time AP/AT off below 10k (and if possible FD off too). After decades of safety improvements because of automation, EGPWS, CRM and so on, I think we have reached the point where more crashes happen because there is too many people in the cockpit who can't fly. There have been numerous hull (and lives) lost because pilots were relying on automation to compensate for non existent situational awareness and control skills. Some should not be there regardless, but I think most could be saved by more hand flying. I don't fly manual just for my ego, 3 times as a brand new captain I got an airplane without auto thrust, an because of that no flight director. I will not again be uncomfortable about not having automation available.

PS: had an engine failure as PM/FO a few years ago. PF/PIC/ Check Airman first action was AP OFF, I switched the AP back on, and told him I would like his assistance while I handled the emergency checklist, and he would not need my help flying if he kept the AP on. There is a time for AP on, anytime there is extra work load, absolutely AP on, but regular flight it should ALWAYS be ok to be AP of.
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Old 11th Feb 2018, 04:28
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I guess if I'm contemplating turning the autopilot off, first I have to decide if it's for pleasure or proficiency, and can only do it if it's the latter.

But what if I can't tell which it is? Help!
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Old 11th Feb 2018, 04:41
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If you carefully read my posts I have cautioned against overindulgence of anything. I have addressed the concern of acquiring manual skills. But there's more to running an airline than me, my passion and my aircraft.

Last edited by vilas; 11th Feb 2018 at 05:02.
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Old 11th Feb 2018, 04:42
  #47 (permalink)  
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There should be no conflict there, and if the PM cannot keep up with your call outs and duties while you are hand flying he or she should find another line of work
Stilton - your statement needs qualification, there are certain ATC environments where the full and undivided attention of both pilots is required whilst the auto system does the work to avoid eroding safety margins. In these ATC environments manual flight can increase the workload on the PM to a point where it becomes such that they are unable to carry out their PM duties, change configurations, change the MCP and communicate with ATC effectively, no fault of the FO, as I'm sure you will have seen in the SIM, it is possible to unrealistically push a pilot beyond a point at which they continue to operate affectively and efficiently, no need for it so don't do it.
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Old 11th Feb 2018, 05:01
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You raise a good point, certain situations are best managed with the autopilot on

However, what if your autopilot is inoperative ?
The PM should still be able to handle all his or her
duties and the PF should be able to fly smoothly and
accurately

My point is, not having the autopilot and autothrottles on should not be a ‘crisis’ but several fatal accidents have shown total dependence on it
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Old 11th Feb 2018, 05:12
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Originally Posted by vilas
Stilton
That may be your motivation but the motivation to start an airline is not to give you thrill but to make money by safely transporting people. So as I said before manual flying should only be done to acquire/maintain the skill to enhance safety and not for any other purpose.
You’re missing the point, enthusiasm for the job, in this case hand flying to a high standard, not just the minimum should always be encouraged as there is a direct benefit to the airline. They have a safer, more competent pilot

You seem to imply there is something wrong with enjoying this, I think that’s a bizarre and unfortunate attitude
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Old 11th Feb 2018, 05:52
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On the other hand, hand flying jet transports above 10,000 simply increases the workload of the PM, reduces capacity and reduces the safety margin.

I remember flying a 737-200 at 31,000 ft one fine day from Hamburg to somewhere in the Greek islands. F/O was a very young German pilot steeped in the automatics. The FMC tracks were via VOR's. I decided to keep my hand in for 10 minutes by manually flying (AP,FD and AT off) and tracking on each VOR in HSI mode. Beautiful weather.
Told the co-pilot what I intended. He looked shocked and said "In that case I had better put my shoulder harness on." This was obviously beyond his ken, poor
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Old 11th Feb 2018, 06:20
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Just wanted to add that in my opinion, if you're going to keep the FD on, you're not really maintaining your hand flying skills.

Staring at the FD won't prevent the erosion of your skills.
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Old 11th Feb 2018, 06:21
  #52 (permalink)  
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There is little doubt that hand flying in IMC in the wrong hands (pun intended) can be dangerous. Who can forget reading of the Middle Eastern airline 737 captain taking off on a dark night over water and asking the first officer to engage the autopilot for him as they climbed through 1000 ft.

The only problem was the captain was holding slight force on the control wheel as the F/O tried to engage the AP. The co-pilot said - "autopilot engaged" when it wasn't. The captain failed to double check and let go the controls. The 737 slowly turned in one direction because of a slight mis-trim fault, and inevitably the nose began to drop until at the last minute the captain belatedly realised the AP was never engaged.

That 737 hit the water at 400 plus knots in a steep spiral with the captain still screaming to the F/O " Autopilot. Autopilot."
That is when manual flying in IMC can be dangerous when the pilot lacks hand flying skills on instruments. Maybe too, that is why aircraft manufacturers recommend full use of automation at all times. They probably suspected with some justification, that there are too many airline pilots out there, that can't really fly.

Last edited by Centaurus; 11th Feb 2018 at 07:57.
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Old 11th Feb 2018, 06:25
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Perfect example of why I cringe when people in this discussion use the term "weather permitting" - presumably to mean "in VMC". If you're not comfortable turning the FD/AP off in IMC, you shouldn't be in IMC. I assume AF447 wouldn't have crashed if the crew had a horizon to see outside.
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Old 11th Feb 2018, 07:07
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Centaurus - re your Middle Eastern 737 post above. Could you elaborate - maybe when/where the incident happened? Did 35 years in in the ME and must have missed that one....but it sounds a little like a variation on the Gulf Air A320 Go Around accident in Bahrain.
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Old 11th Feb 2018, 07:19
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777byo,

If you're being sarcastic (Did 35 years in in the ME and must have missed that one....but it sounds a little like a variation on the Gulf Air A320 Go Around accident in Bahrain.), you most certainly did.

Flash Air 604.
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Old 11th Feb 2018, 07:52
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Centaurus - re your Middle Eastern 737 post above. Could you elaborate
Yes. See Final report of the accident investigation, Flash Airlines Fight 604, Boeing 737-300 SU-ZCF, Red Sea off Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, January 3, 2004
Micro-summary: This Boeing 737-300 crashed into the Red Sea shortly after takeoff.

Final Report: https://www.fss.aero/accident-report...4-01-03-EG.pdf
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Old 11th Feb 2018, 08:21
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Thanks Centaurus, honestly do not recall that one. And just for the record, I was not being sarcastic as someone else suggested, apologise if my post came across that way, but the similarities with the GF incident were striking - loss of control at night over water to name a couple.
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Old 11th Feb 2018, 08:36
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The best way to hone basic IF hand flying skills is to hand fly the aircraft for long periods of time, at altitude in the cruise. Cant be done now, since we have RVSM of course. On accassion we didn't have a servicable auto pilot, so the whole mission was handflown. Skills you attain and maintain. Oh the good old days of cargo!

Last edited by Dan_Brown; 11th Feb 2018 at 19:45.
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Old 11th Feb 2018, 09:38
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I think we have reached the point where more crashes happen because there is too many people in the cockpit who can't fly.
Completely agree, but a few thoughts...

The poster above who suggested the Captain disconnect the autopilot and fly anyway when his FO was uncomfortable with it. Might be legal commander but two crew operation and very poor CRM IMHO. A better question to ask himself is why so many people are concerned about him making the decision to hand fly the aircraft?

Particularly in the Airbus, hamfisted flying is uncomfortable for the passengers and unpleasant to watch from the other seat as the stick wobbles from stop to stop and the aircraft lurches itís way down the ILS. Failing to follow the glide slope is another thing; if youíre one of those people that routinely flies a dot low while cheerfully announcing ďdonít worry, Iím visualĒ then itís perhaps understandable that thereís a reluctance to see it happen on every sector.

But the whole thing is indicative of a larger problem, where people learn to complete very specific scenarios and anything different from a normal automatic ILS is unsettling. Look at most sim checks, where the scenarios are leaked and shared amongst pilots who revise like hell to be perfect in that single, specific sequence of events. Type ratings where people learn the answers to test papers but actually have a weak understanding of the aircraft systems. Troubleshooting without a conscious effort to understand what theyíre doing...

The list goes on.
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Old 11th Feb 2018, 10:22
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No matter how good the Automatics are,they only operate on historical data,albeit milliseconds.They do NOT have Wifes,Children,Grandchildren,Mortgages and a bloody great yellow streak down their backs,well defined by many many years of experience,plus can they anticipate?I think not?Whatever flying in Alternate Law means,maybe it ought to be SOP on ferry flights/positioning flights that some sort of hand flying or limited Autopilot should be demonstrated.When flying Race Horses with a total value many times exceeding the value of the Aircraft,careful hand flying produced a far better ride for both the Horses and Grooms who were alowed to stand with their charges during TO/Ldgs,as one could finesse turns,power increases/decreases and make the descents barely perceptible with proper anticipation.A very well known Middle Eastern Prince often complemented our special Horse Charter Crews on their ability to maintain this standard.We were, in fact, the only Airline where Air Grooms were permitted to stand with their Mounts during the whole of the Flight.Tragic this is now long gone and handed over to the Russians!
I suspect a Pilot of todays fully Computerised/Automatic carbon fibre tubes pays little cogniscence to the famous 7 "P"s that most of us were brought up with:Proper Prior Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance:That used to be called Airmanship:Its now all done for you!
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