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Hand flying in todays jet transports

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Hand flying in todays jet transports

Old 11th Feb 2018, 10:59
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The Flash Airlines was very similar to a B737 crash on departure in Kenya, or a Kenyan airline. No x-check that A/P was in CMD and heads down looking at Wx radar on departure.

Follow the FD! B747 freighter out of STN did just that; except it was frozen in a bank. Same result as the B737's. No scan by PF.

Some years ago I arrived FL 100 15nm from a Polish airfield, perpendicular to the runway, in severe clear, and calm, no known traffic and choose your runway. Well obviously land towards the terminal, as it was not central. There was an NPA/VOR for that runway, but not needed. Everything off and down we went for a CDA. Overhead the upwind boundary fence and a 270 degree circuit to spool up around 800' turing onto finals. It was relaxed, peaceful, no talking expect for flaps & gear. On vacating the young F/O looked across asking, "where did you learn to do that?"......."Before you were born."
Shortly afterwards, and not because of this event, that whole heresy was banned. The most basic of piloting manoeuvres was banned. The very thing, except for the CDA, that is mandatory on base training to receive the rating; banned. Agh!.
So now the guys are 'plug in at 1000' and unplug at 1000'. And then comes the max x-wind or very gusty turbulent day where you are expected to land, and of course manually. What then? All fingers & thumbs with unstable airspeed and glide path; GA at 100' because it is a mess. Shall we try again or divert, while everyone else is landing? Why the difficulty? Because manual skills and understanding of the a/c were never attained and certainly not maintained. There are some airfields where the runway is shortish, in the lee of hills, lowish cloud, might be wet, low level down drafts but all within limits and a well practiced crews' capability. But the flight deck of some airlines is full of sweaty palms and prickly neck hairs. A bit of stress to alert and sharpen you is good, but you should have confidence in your ability.
Looking at the videos of 'exciting x-wind landings' it is obvious that there are some airlines where skills are still maintained and others where it was 50/50 on the day. There are some airlines where manual skills are so diluted that the odds might be slightly less than that.
It should not be the case, and the DFO should ensure that with company culture.
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Old 11th Feb 2018, 12:31
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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.
Why on earth would a F/O be scared (or "uncomfortable" as you delicately put it) if the captain dares to hand fly at altitude on a nice day where there are no bumps to frighten said F/O and even (shudder) to dispose of the flight director.

After all, one presumes the F/O had his eyes glued to his own flight director to allay his own fears the captain might lose control and he (the hapless F/O) might be forced to take control while the automatics are resting. Besides what the hell has a two crew operation and the over-used word CRM got to do with all this?

Forgive the failed attempt at light humour.
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Old 11th Feb 2018, 12:35
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Personally, I'm all for practicing manual flight during approaches/landings etc, as long as it is to maintain handling skills, rather than to show that you're some sort of superior operator ("Skygod") because you can do it.

The problem I have is when people insist on hand flying a straight departure path with flight director on up to cruising level. It's achieving nothing, except increasing the workload of the pilot monitoring.
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Old 11th Feb 2018, 13:20
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For me I think vilas and Fusty Ferret have it nailed also.

Hand flying skills do need to be maintained but to suggest that this perceived lack of skill overall amongst todays crews, is contributing to many incidents and accidents is simply untrue - yes, quotable areas where this was a contributor are definitely possible but statistics don't suggest that safety is now being compromised by the levels of automation used daily by crews. Technology isn't as simple as it was during the days of the "war heros" and traffic density and airspace complexity is definitely different, to name just two.

The posts like that of FAStoat make me cringe - its not just Airmanship you display there - that is still called today - arrogance. The airline world is a business and not a playground whether we like it or not and the automation when used correctly and monitored and understood, can only be a huge benefit while working correctly. Manual skills in most I suspect will be adequate in the event of failure requiring its use, despite comments that state opposite. Not exemplary, adequate but safe.
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Old 11th Feb 2018, 13:40
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A contributing factor with regard to the above mentioned accidents, is most crew are not selected on merit, IMHO. Well connected, money and nepotism are the order of the day. Getting a little like that in Europe. If you have the money it seems you're in. Trouble is you can't teach ability and work ethic.

Last edited by Dan_Brown; 11th Feb 2018 at 19:43.
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Old 11th Feb 2018, 14:59
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My first 121 carrier the aircraft was hand flown to something above 10,000 feet. On decent the A/P was usually disconnected on slowing at 10,000 feet. When checking out on the 74, my check captain hand flew it to FL350 and continued to hand fly it for the next ten or fifteen minutes. There was never more than a few feet divergence from 350. We had a long discussion about hand flying and he encouraged hand flying at cruise altitude. He said a one degree attitude change at M0.8 will result in a 800 foot climb or decent. That is were you learn to make tenth of a degree corrections, note that it was always raw date. As I waited my turn for up grade, I would, traffic. work load allowed, hand fly for the first half hour or so. More than on captain would ask, you want the A/P now.
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Old 11th Feb 2018, 16:13
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I used to be in the hand fly hand fly hand fly camp, but nowadays I am beginning to wonder...

A few weeks ago I sat through a CRM recurrent presentation where we shown FDM readouts from two approaches that had gone horribly wrong, one a hand flown visual straight in approach by a captain with 13000 hours on type (medium Boeing jet) being monitored by an F/O with 3000 hours on type, on a severely nice weather day, the second a hand flown raw data ILS on the same type, also by an experienced crew.

Prior to the first approach, we were told what the weather conditions were, and the group was asked "who would have flown a visual approach"? Of those watching the majority, mainly youngish (under 30) F/O's and Captains said they would. My question is why?

Just as in the 1950's there were probably those who said "everyone should be able to fly a VLF Range let down, Fixed card RBI's are for poofters", I cannot help thinking that too many people are suffering a back lash against automation which is going too far. "Children of the Magenta Line" was filmed in 1998, before many of those at that CRM presentation had even had their first trial lesson, but all of them could quote "what should we do? click click, click click".

I'm sorry, but I can't help but disagree nowadays. 20 years on, if we are given a runway change it takes us at most 30 seconds to change the FMC for the new runway's ILS (I am talking B737 here, I don't know about Airbus). When that film was shot I was flying a medium swept wing jet with no EFIS and a nine way point INS in which apart from Oceanic sectors we just entered the destination lat long for a rough ETA and flew VOR to VOR (or NDB NDB in Russia). Before that I flew Turbo props with no auto pilot or flight director, Tail wheel bush flying, light piston twins for air taxi, and did my initial IR with a fixed card RBI, so I don't think I am a child of the Magenta line. But in the last twenty years of flying EFIS turbo props and twins I have never had to dispatch without at least one of the dual autopilots working, or at least one of the flight director.

The worst thing I hear now on the flight deck is an F/O who says to me "I have the sim coming up, do you mind if I practice a....", because it shows that the airline I work for and the industry as a whole has totally lost the plot...Simulators were invented to let us practice for something that might happen in the aircraft. It should never be the other way around.
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Old 11th Feb 2018, 17:11
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Originally Posted by Fursty Ferret
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.
Well, it depends. The captain should use his judgment (in his mentor role) to figure out if the FO's discomfort is due to legitimate overload due the to the situation, in which case he should help reduce the load with the autopilot; or if it's due to his norm window being too small and he's trained to be uncomfortable, in which case the only cure is exposure.

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.
Yes, and there are those, whose supposed solution to this problem (in full earnest) is that those pilots should continue to only use the autopilot. What a stunning failure to reason out the consequences.

Originally Posted by Vokes55
The problem I have is when people insist on hand flying a straight departure path with flight director on up to cruising level. It's achieving nothing, except increasing the workload of the pilot monitoring.
I disagree. This removes the mental exercise of the exact heading control to maintain the course and pitch control to maintain the airspeed, but it still leaves the long term exposure to the physical perception and control of very subtle forces on the yoke and barely perceptible deviations on the attitude indicator. Also it provides a long term reinforcement of the normalcy (i.e., comfort) of the airplane simply being in your control, which is worth something. It's actually worth a lot.

Originally Posted by OutsideCAS
but to suggest that this perceived lack of skill overall amongst todays crews, is contributing to many incidents and accidents is simply untrue - yes, quotable areas where this was a contributor are definitely possible but statistics don't suggest that safety is now being compromised by the levels of automation used daily by crews.
Given that virtually every recent high profile crash has been due to hand flying incompetence, this argument will take some more detail to flesh out.

and the automation when used correctly and monitored and understood, can only be a huge benefit while working correctly.
So what does "used correctly" mean? Is autopilot down to a few hundred feet on a severe clear day into a quiet airport "used correctly?" Do you think that's a huge benefit?

Originally Posted by excrab
Prior to the first approach, we were told what the weather conditions were, and the group was asked "who would have flown a visual approach"? Of those watching the majority, mainly youngish (under 30) F/O's and Captains said they would. My question is why?
Why not?

The worst thing I hear now on the flight deck is an F/O who says to me "I have the sim coming up, do you mind if I practice a....", because it shows that the airline I work for and the industry as a whole has totally lost the plot...Simulators were invented to let us practice for something that might happen in the aircraft. It should never be the other way around.
Yes, I agree that's an absurd inversion of the role of the sim. When someone needs to "practice" an element of supposed routine everyday flying, what does that say about their baseline competency in it? And how could that be improved?

Last edited by Vessbot; 11th Feb 2018 at 20:33.
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Old 11th Feb 2018, 18:57
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When asked, my IR instructor very clearly answered that both manual and automatic flying skills should be mastered.
There's nothing I would add.
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Old 11th Feb 2018, 19:54
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Originally Posted by OutsideCAS
The airline world is a business and not a playground whether we like it or not and the automation when used correctly and monitored and understood, can only be a huge benefit while working correctly. Manual skills in most I suspect will be adequate in the event of failure requiring its use, despite comments that state opposite. Not exemplary, adequate but safe.
- Altitude within 100 feet
- Speed within 5kts
- ILS within 1 dot

These are the absolute minimums required by EASA for the licence we have.

It's not about a playground. You are expected to have these skills as a minimum. The airline world should be filled with professionals, I expect professionals to be better than the absolute minimum.

You state that current state of manual skills are adequate. About 1 in 10 go-arounds go wrong mainly because lack of flying skills, pitch + thrust (low speed, flap exceedances, level busts, loss of control, crash...), I do think some work is needed. The only way is practice.
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Old 11th Feb 2018, 21:00
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By the way, for all the complaints Airbus gets for enabling automation dependency, Boeing is not doing the pilot population any favors, either. On my last ride in the jumpseat (757) it dawned on me that there was no HSI... not even during the ILS! I wonder if one was available but the crew didn't choose to display it.
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Old 11th Feb 2018, 21:40
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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 it’s way down the ILS.

If that standard is maintained what would you expect on a CAVOK 3/4 max x-wind landing? It should not be a problem, but I guess it might be.

- Altitude within 100 feet
- Speed within 5kts
- ILS within 1 dot


I tested a guy on an OPC and failed his ILS. He repeated after a few words of wisdom. I printed both out. He tried to argue that the first was within limits. By the letter of the law, perhaps; except it was +100' then -100' then +80' etc at platform altitude on intercept HDG. Then the fun started as we slalomed left & right up & down the ILS bouncing off he 1 dot limit with the speed reasonably stable. 1 out of 3 in stability was not a good enough. And that was with an FD.
For education we had time & threw in a couple of raw data's. Those progressed quite well and at the end he was smiling. "We don't get much chance to practice that, and it has not been explained clearly, in steps." It was sad, that even with an FD the handling was agricultural. How would this guy, if he continued like that, pass a command assessment. It makes one wonder what the thinking is, or what standards are being set. And it's sometimes not the fault of the individual. They have not been given the tools and been encouraged to keep them sharp.

Vessbot: HSI went out long ago and the LOC & GS are displayed on the side of the PFD. You can change the MAP to display a raw HSI.
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Old 12th Feb 2018, 00:16
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When I was still FO, I almost never did raw data as most captains were against it or very scared in case of screw up to be called by the safety department. We fly A320s and we are lucky our company allowed us to do raw data flights.
I remember being so nervous every time I will remove the FDs and A/thr and felt that way during all the approach cause I was doing it like once every 2/3 months and I was just not feeling confortable. When I got upgraded, I started doing raw data a lot; My confidence, and flying skills were back to good standard, I’m happily flying the Bus, raw data without the Bird now which at first was like a serious challenge as I was 99% of the time following FD bars
The amazing part is that some Fos, were moaning when I announced them that I will do a raw data during approach. For some guys it should only be in the sim! Excuse me? Or they are scared of the QAR... But it’s easy not to Bust a QAR, just do your call out if I deviate and I will correct it I would tell them. One guy even told me: “ You know what would be cool? If the aircraft can take off, cruise and land by itself it would be the perfect job”. I was like WFT?! I became a pilot cause I like to fly. Not just pressing buttons on the FCU. I undestand it’s not a playground, but flying raw data is a must for safety and good for us pilots, it’s also fun! I always encourage the Fos to fly raw data. Yesterday I gave my sector to a friend of mine who only did 2 raw datas in 1 year and 3 months time in the company. He was so happy and his confidence and flying skills in just 1 day doing 2 raw datas the same day have improved dramatically. There is noway, someone can claim to fly accurately raw data just by training in the sim. Firstly it’s not exactly the same and secondly IFR flights is not like riding a bicycle, you stop praticing you lose your skills, period! I know some airlines don’t allow raw data in the line. Well, I wish those guys good luck if they end up in direct law.
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Old 12th Feb 2018, 07:30
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[quote
I used to be in the hand fly hand fly hand fly camp, but nowadays I am beginning to wonder
A bit of history, so forgive the thread drift.

Hand flying? THIS is hand flying...
From the book Lake Boga at War by Brett Freeman; The inside story of the secret RAAF Inland Flying Boat Unit - WW2.

On 22 January 1942 Flt Lt Keith Bolitho took off at 0200 from the RAAF flying boat base at Rathmines NSW to search for the US registered Liberty Ship H. Burnett that had been torpedoed but managed to radio a distress signal.
A lifeboat with 20 men aboard was spotted at first light. After a series of notes were dropped with life jackets, the survivors signalled they were indeed crew members of Liberty ship Burnett.

With adverse sea conditions and the survivors' weight estimated, a decision was made not to alight but to summon Sydney for a surface vessel. An American destroyer responded but, for some time could not find the location because of a major compass error in the Catalina, an error that may well have saved the stricken lifeboat crew. Further drama ensued when continuing the search for survivors the Catalina came across a stranded ship with its stern blown away. It was the Peter.H. Burnett still afloat. Together with a RAN corvette, the US Navy destroyer rendezvoused with the stricken Burnett where all crew members were rescued and reunited.

It was nearing midnight as the Catalina touched down at Rathmines. When Flight Lieutenant Keith Bolitho and his crew came ashore they had been airborne 22 hours and 25 minutes aboard this hand flown flying boat.
............................................................ ............................................................ ............................................................ ............................................................ ...

Postscript. I had the pleasure of serving under the now Wing Commander K. Bolitho DFC when he was CO of No. 1 RAAF Basic Flying Training School at Uranquinty NSW in 1956. At the time I was a Pilot Officer qualified flying instructor on Tiger moths and Wirraways. Keith Bolitho had flown many hundreds of hours on Catalina flying boats over Japanese occupied areas of the SW Pacific including bombing and mine-laying operations.

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Old 12th Feb 2018, 08:59
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One guy even told me: “ You know what would be cool? If the aircraft can take off, cruise and land by itself it would be the perfect job”.

There are too many cadets who think the job is easy money early in life and are not 'total aviation people'. IMHO the pay for apprentices is too high at entry point. If the pay was reduced, drastically, for the first coupe of years, until the apprenticeship was served, (and 100% Pay 2 Fly was disallowed) it might weed out the wrong stuff. People like the above, IMHO, would not be suitable command material, i.e. not the sort of guy you want up front on a bad-hair day.

All this talk about raw data causing reduced safety etc. BS. In 80's, before EFIS, raw data was the norm, other than an ILS. That was the only time the FD was coupled to the approach. You might be able to set up a HDG + V/S for an NPA using FD, but that was too distracting. A visual was the norm, when allowed, or as in Greece, necessary. Raw data was the only way. Why did the advent of EFIS stop that behaviour? Because DFO's, CP's HOT's said so. Why? It has done nothing to improve safety. If you are going to use the EFIS kit then you need to extend the circuit to outside OM. This extends the finals. The reason? to reduce the number of GA's. That is money. To improve safety you improve skills and knowledge, you do not inhibit basic manoeuvres and dilute skills and turn pilots into trained monkeys, who know only one method to do anything. You train and trust thinking crews. IMHO.

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Old 12th Feb 2018, 09:16
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Originally Posted by RAT 5
[I]IMHO the pay for apprentices is too high at entry point. If the pay was reduced, drastically, for the first coupe of years, until the apprenticeship was served, (and 100% Pay 2 Fly was disallowed) it might weed out the wrong stuff.
No, it would just cut Your pay as well.

Originally Posted by RAT 5
People like the above, IMHO, would not be suitable command material, i.e. the sort of guy you want up front on a bad-hair day.
Agree but there are many ways to spot it regardless of the money.

Originally Posted by RAT 5
All this talk about raw data causing reduced safety etc. BS. In 80's, before EFIS, raw data was the norm, other than an ILS. That was the only time the FD was coupled to the approach. You might be able to set up a HDG + V/S for an NPA using FD, but that was too distracting. A visual was the norm, when allowed, or as in Greece, necessary. Raw data was the only way. Why did the advent of EFIS stop that behaviour? Because DFO's, CP's HOT's said so. Why?
I would say because accidents have happened rather than some DFO's specific wills.
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Old 12th Feb 2018, 09:31
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I think a problem is that not enough time is given in the SIM to mastering the hand flying first.

In my A320 initial type rating SIM program, the TRE said “it’s a good idea to get a day ahead in the SIM”, so we rushed through everything: All the basic preliminaries such as seat position, eye position, arm rest and even the most fundamental ‘how to fly using a side stick coupled to FBW instead of a yoke’, were not covered. I just had to muddle through, but at least I had previous airline experience of three non FBW aircraft types, both turbo-prop and jets, so I was able to do that.

Where problems might arise is that todays’ cadet goes from a PA28/PA34 equivalent straight onto an Airbus and they have the sort of bad “trainer” I had for my initial training.

I understand that some airlines now teach manual hand-flying first, with no FD’s or AP’s at all until the basics are mastered?

If the CAA mandated us recording manually flown, non FD approaches, say a minimum of three every six months, then it would send a message to the industry, and airlines would have to start looking at manual non FD flying in the SIM and actually training it to get everyone up to speed.
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Old 12th Feb 2018, 09:57
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If the CAA mandated us recording manually flown, non FD approaches, say a minimum of three every six months, then it would send a message to the industry, and airlines would have to start looking at manual non FD flying in the SIM and actually training it to get everyone up to speed.
and

My initial motivation was and remains the simple delight and satisfaction In accurate, smooth hand flying, there seems to be a school of thought now that is old fashioned thinking not in sync with modern aircraft
I think the quotes above illustrate the different attitudes to hand flying. Both agree that hand flying must be mastered, one see it as necessary evil and the other as the pure joy of flying!!
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Old 12th Feb 2018, 10:05
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Actually manual flying is developing efficient instrument scan. It should be developed in the Simulater. Pilot who has that can try it out in real life. No problem. But you cannot start from the scratch with passengers on board. Eventually Automation is going to take over everything. Even Boeing has plans for single pilot aircraft. From one to none is not far away.
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Old 12th Feb 2018, 10:23
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You could slowly ramp up the level of instrument flying on the line. I think that's how it works for those who haven't experienced the pre-EFIS era.
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