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Hand flying in todays jet transports

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Hand flying in todays jet transports

Old 12th Feb 2018, 10:25
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Just for the record: I do not see hand flying as a necessary evil*

However, in some of the skies where I fly, London TMA, Western Europe etc., when the airspace and the RT are so busy; hand-flying would add an unnecessary layer of potential for f**k-ups. Folk can say that PM should be able to deal with PMing even if PF is manually flying, but I would question the wisdom of doing that and possibly overloading the PM, and let’s be honest the PF too, in very busy airspace. So one would have to be sensible.

* In my turbo-prop days, it was extremely satisfying to hand-fly the whole approach, including CDA, vectors and config changes onto a raw data ILS, (manual thrust, no FD’s). To be able to fly all that smoothly, correctly and within limits was a job well done.
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Old 12th Feb 2018, 10:46
  #82 (permalink)  
 
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FZRA

Where does the buck stop?
err...with the Captain........

I agree with a lot of what you say, and personally I encourage hand flying when appropriate, and I don't hover over the controls, but.., and I'm sorry to break this to you, not all our colleagues are aces. I won't be the only one here who has had the unexpected happen just when a colleague has lulled you into a false sense of security........... and it can result in scars/phone calls/visits to the office....
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Old 12th Feb 2018, 11:12
  #83 (permalink)  
 
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Just for the record: I do not see hand flying as a necessary evil*
Apologies for taking your quote out of context.

I just find it a knee-jerk reaction to start logging approaches. A less than fool proof system that I can't think makes you a competent stick and rudder pilot unless you got the will to be so.

I just like the notion that a manual approach should be a non-event.
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Old 12th Feb 2018, 11:58
  #84 (permalink)  
 
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FZRA

Ok, if I may go back to your earlier post:
The one thing that really bugs me on a CAVOK day, climbing out of a quiet Spanish airfield with an initial climb clearance of FL90 or so, is the Captain hovering his finger over the AP button passing 1000'.
I don't know (or want to know) what you fly, or for whom, but is this "finger hovering" a regular event? I'd agree the idea of someone's finger waving uncommanded at a Boeing MCP A/P button at 1000' sounds darned odd ( and yes, off putting)? If this is a common occurance is it possible your company has an unofficial SOP of automatics in at 1000' and that is that what these Captains are pre-empting/expecting?


I'd offer this as a possible solution, others may have better ideas: Get ahead of the problem and sort this out/put out some feelers at the briefing stage when it is your sector e.g:.

During the departure brief, at some point: "we are doing the XYZ SID, blah, VNAV blah block altitude blah, "Oh and if all is going OK, no non-normals to deal with, you are not overloaded... I plan to hand fly up to around FL XXX"...

Doing that there should be no surprises at 1000', it gives your colleague a chance to voice any objections/observations on the ground and gives you a chance to perhaps gauge the confidence level of your partner in crime.

FWIW I also verbalise in similar fashion as part of my approach briefing...."..... It's a good day, I plan to "hand fly" it once we've left the hold.".

Last edited by wiggy; 12th Feb 2018 at 12:11.
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Old 12th Feb 2018, 12:20
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FZRA

You flew with a piss poor captain, in my opinion.
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Old 12th Feb 2018, 12:25
  #86 (permalink)  
 
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Uplinker

I hear the "overloading the PM" argument all the time. I've never flown in Europe, but I've flown into some very busy airports here in the US (JFK, ORD, LAX etc.). Is the radio work that much different in Europe that the PM gets overloaded? Honest question.

I really can't recall a time that as the PM, I wished the PF would turn on the AP to reduce my workload.
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Old 12th Feb 2018, 12:42
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i'm with you Check airman. It was a big training Management thing in my airline. "Careful of hand flying lest you overload the NH pilot."
Even on a B744 all the NHP has to do is talk to ATC, press a button, or make an autopilot selection or two.
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Old 12th Feb 2018, 12:45
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I've never flown in Europe, but I've flown into some very busy airports here in the US (JFK, ORD, LAX etc.). Is the radio work that much different in Europe that the PM gets overloaded? Honest question.
No......in fact certainly the London TMA is quaintly civilised compared with some places.................
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Old 12th Feb 2018, 13:01
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Check airman

The general level of workload does not differ from the New York area to that in London or Paris and those who think it does are only fooling themselves.

What does differ is the level of experience that pilots enter the cockpit, generally to get into the right seat of a jet in the USA a pilot will have 1500+hours of turboprop time. In Europe the beanconters have pilots with 200 hours total time sitting in the right seat of a mid sized jet airliner.

The only way these people can get to grips with the aircraft is by strict and somewhat restrictive SOP’s that the management impose to try to contain the situation, this is breeding a new type of pilot who is reluctant to hand fly the aircraft even when the workload is low. The problem is that here people are now getting the into the left seat and have a marked reluctance to let the newer FO’s fly the Aircraft due to their own lack of hand flying experience.

As someone who thinks that mentoring new FO’s is part of a captains job I am deeply disappointed when FO’s tell me that even during ideal conditions captains have prohibited them from hand flying the aircraft.

I try to give all the FO’s as much scope as is reasonable to hand fly the aircraft and develope their manual flying skills but I feel I am fighting an uphill battle aganst automation dependency.

As a european pilot I have to reluctantly admit that the standard of pilotage this side of the Atlantic is falling behind that of the USA for the reasons I have given above.
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Old 12th Feb 2018, 13:03
  #90 (permalink)  
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Flight International 30 January -5 February 2018. Letter to Editor headed:
Manual flying still a necessity by Tristram Llewellyn Jones

"Two of your recent articles high-light the issue of manual flying ability versus the usage of automatic systems.
First: "Hard landing followed manual approach" (Flight International 16-22 January) explains that Germania placed operational restrictions on manual flying following an incident with a hand-flown approach.

Next: "EasyJet A319 sustained gear damage during flat landing" (F.I. 23-29 January) describes a handling incident following a flight management computer failure, and an incorrect control input that could have been caused by either computer or human error.

There is an obvious point: the primary duty of the pilot is to control the aircraft, and the most critical stage of a flight is the last part of the approach and landing.

Flight International has rightly raised concerns about the degradation of manual flying skills due to over-reliance on automation. Regulators and airlines appear to have developed low expectations of pilots' flying skills, yet autopilots are not yet at the stage where every flight manoeuvre can be flown automatically. Baulked landings, take-offs, stall recoveries, collision avoidance and jet upsets require current flying skills.

It is possible to over-complicate this issue. Pilots must be able to confidently fly the aircraft accurately at any stage of flight. This means increasing the amount of operational hand flying, not decreasing it.
For the sake of public safety manual flying needs to come back into fashion, even if it is slightly less fuel-efficient.
The old adage is true - if you think safety is expensive, try having an accident".
............................................................ .....................................

Comment. While it is true that regulators and airlines appear to have low expectations of pilots' flying skills, it is na´ve to expect regulators to fix the problem through legislation. And indeed that is the only way of fixing the problem.
Individual Examiners have their own opinions on the manual flying versus automatics; just as all of us have, depending on our background. By now, old school Examiners in the regulatory system have long since retired; to be replaced by those whose first airline job was probably on EFIS aircraft. Understandably their accent is on the bells and whistles of ever more sophisticated automatic systems. It is my understanding these people do not have the regulatory power to force an operator to make a significant increase in manual flight training. The regulator's Examiner can make recommendations and little else.

Am I right in saying only the operator can decide to change a syllabus of training to accent manual instrument flying skills both in the simulator and flying on the line? As the flight operations decision makers in an organisation move on and fresh blood comes in, one can only hope the new chief pilot has read enough accident reports to appreciate that manual flying skills are equally as important to maintaining a good flight safety record, as autopilot skills .
I for one, am not holding my breath on that one.

Last edited by Centaurus; 12th Feb 2018 at 13:23.
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Old 12th Feb 2018, 13:49
  #91 (permalink)  
 
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Also, when trasitioning from one type to another, the first 4 sim are raw data low level flying all the way. To ensure you get a feeling for the new airplane. This is company policy.

F-9'er: I spoke to one of your TRE's after the Asiana SFO B777 incident. He explained this stepping stone block building philosophy. Wonderful. I have always advocated, to deaf ears, that you learn first how to fly the a/c raw; then how to fly it with AFDS, then how to manage the automatics and then how to manage & handle the a/c in non-normals. Problem with that, in this cost conscious student pays for everything world, is the initial TR would be too long & too expensive. I know of some operators who have reduced the manual handling to 1.5 sessions, devices by 2 pilots. That's it, and then it's plug & play all day. Then base training, where the limited manual skills of cadets have to be revived, and then manual manipulation is discouraged on the line.
In your case, where the opposite is true, it is still considered worthwhile to offer 4 sessions, company paid, manual raw data flying to those who are converting on type; i.e. already have manual skills. Excellent and correct. Other operators are guilty of never giving their crews those manual skills in the first place.
IMHO, some companies do rely on the reliability of automatics and systems so that those missing skills are not expected to be called upon. For me that is where the debate lies. Not that all you guys should be poling around the skies Top Gunning it every where, but that when called upon you, and the company, will have the confidence you can perform as required.
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Old 12th Feb 2018, 15:25
  #92 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by wiggy
FZRA

err...with the Captain........

I agree with a lot of what you say, and personally I encourage hand flying when appropriate, and I don't hover over the controls, but.., and I'm sorry to break this to you, not all our colleagues are aces. I won't be the only one here who has had the unexpected happen just when a colleague has lulled you into a false sense of security........... and it can result in scars/phone calls/visits to the office....
True, but that goes to giving captains due authority and respect. In days gone, these minor events would get a stiff-finger speech at a bar down route; the F/O would learn; the captain would be a wee bit more on top of his co-pilots and chief pilots slept thru it all.

Nowadays, we have “snitch” machines, aka FDM, planes that record every minor exceedance which lands at someone’s desk before we do at the destination.

No one here is so outstanding to have never made a mistake, but that’s where we learn. F/Os deserve the respect and confidence to not have a captain “hovering” over the autopilot button.
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Old 12th Feb 2018, 15:39
  #93 (permalink)  
 
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However, in some of the skies where I fly, London TMA, Western Europe etc., when the airspace and the RT are so busy; hand-flying would add an unnecessary layer of potential for f**k-ups. Folk can say that PM should be able to deal with PMing even if PF is manually flying, but I would question the wisdom of doing that and possibly overloading the PM, and let’s be honest the PF too, in very busy airspace. So one would have to be sensible.

Indeed many are, and in such TMA's many operators advise the use of A/P soon on departure. Busy radio, lots of traffic on MAP, step climbs etc. So why do some operators still insist on manually flying that rare manoeuvre and often messed up, the simple GA in the very same airspace they advocate A/P SID's? Seems contradictory to me. I've heard tales from colleagues who made GA's, in crowded airspace, with low level off and 3 different 'official' GA's. The FMC was programmed for the correct one, but non-radar tower was demanding to know the reason for the GA and also giving navigation to a different beacon and a freq change all while manually flying and trying to clean up. Safest SOP's? Hm.
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Old 12th Feb 2018, 15:54
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I'll agree with you on that point, RAT5. If ATC is sending me off to some unknown fix, life would be easier with the AP on. That being said, on this side of the Atlantic, you'll never fly the published missed approach procedure, let alone go to some other fix. You'll simply be vectored back around for another approach.

Tangentially related, but holding isn't really that common here. It seems most facilities would rather vector you around all day than issue a hold.
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Old 12th Feb 2018, 16:39
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Well, I just read the entire thread in one gulp. All I can say is the following is one man's opinion.

I've been on the Airbus at a very major US carrier for 27 years. Speaking for myself, if I don't make an effort to manually fly (as in AP off, FD off, AThrust off, and Bird ON) then my skills get rusty.

I've flown with MANY first officers who are not comfortable with manual thrust landings, and that's a problem with landing an Airbus strong gusty winds. Manual thrust, and a keen eye watching the airspeed trend line will give you better speed control than the autothrust. During discussions about this, I tell guys that every Airbus pilot should be equally comfortable with AT on or off. New guys get wide-eyed at this comment, and that's a poor reflection on Airbus initial training. New guys can shoot a perfect RNAV RNP to minimums and then a coupled go-around, but put them on a high and tight base leg in VFR conditions, and you can count on a total FUBAR. They've not been trained how to FLY the airplane.

With regards to practicing hand-flown ILS approaches (either FD on AP off or totally raw data) I do NOT hand fly when the workload is high, the weather is even remotely low, or the airport is busy, or it's the last leg of a long duty day.. But if I want to pre-brief a manual approach to my home field during a low traffic, good weather time, I see no problems with that. I do NOT just click everything off with no warning to the pilot monitoring.

I know some guys who are so good that they can fly to better than ATP tolerances on a sim check with no practice, but I'm not one of them. So, I practice when appropriate.

Besides, I still like to fly by hand.
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Old 12th Feb 2018, 17:12
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Many moons ago, I was new on Challenger 604 flying with one of the type’s certification pilots. We were off to Monterey, California for a 3am arrival. He gently mentioned morning fog is common and then noted the approach plate “coupled approaches not authorized”, as he sat in the right seat. With some trepidation, off we went. Well, it was about 300-1/2 on arrival and the ILS was the best confidence builder possible.

But, these skills have to be deeply learned early and maintained. If they are only passably learned in the first 500 hours, it’s tough to learn them flying the line in today’s world. And, hand flying a departure or good weather ILS may not hack it.
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Old 12th Feb 2018, 17:32
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10,000 hours on big jets.

I hadn't flown a single in 20 years and I've just flown an Aeronca AC11 (?) taildragger with adverse yaw, 65hp and barely any instruments. THAT's the way to brush up your hand/eye flying skills!
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Old 12th Feb 2018, 17:38
  #98 (permalink)  
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Reading this lot makes me forever grateful that I finished before automation came in, every minute of my modest total was hand-flown - and I was all the better for it!

AF447 should've given the aviation world furiously to think. Has it - or do the bean-counters still rule supreme ?

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Old 12th Feb 2018, 18:26
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Is there an app for "hand flying" ?
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Old 12th Feb 2018, 18:36
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