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Hand flying in todays jet transports

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Hand flying in todays jet transports

Old 12th Feb 2018, 17:54
  #101 (permalink)  
 
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Wow, that Airbus version sure looks dull to operate!
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Old 12th Feb 2018, 17:56
  #102 (permalink)  
 
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Must be the Boeing 737 overhead panel.
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Old 12th Feb 2018, 18:02
  #103 (permalink)  
 
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Ah, thoght about the 737 refueling panel.
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Old 12th Feb 2018, 18:56
  #104 (permalink)  
 
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When our washing machine broke down I went in search of a replacement. I wanted manual - temp control, water amount, spin speed control, spin pause etc. etc. My wife wanted Prog: 1.2.3.4. She won. It seems to work; I'm not allowed to touch it.
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Old 12th Feb 2018, 19:32
  #105 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by A and C
, this is breeding a new type of pilot who is reluctant to hand fly the aircraft even when the workload is low.
This is not a new type, the type is already here and firmly entrenched.

Excrab related a story of a 13,000 hour captain that biffed an easy visual (seemingly in support of the idea that even the most experienced can't be trusted with the yoke and throttles... but I could be wrong about the point, he wasn't very clear about it. Ecxrab, could you please clarify?) But that doesn't necessarily mean that he was a salty old dog with iron skills forged in a past aeon when the men were men, sex was safe, and flying was dangerous. At 1000 hours a year, the captain in question could have started as recently as 2005, already a decade after the late Capt. Warren Vanderburgh recognized and publicized the problem in his Children of the Magenta video. Every one of those 13,000 hours could have been with the AP on until 1000 . (Or, as in the most extreme example I've flown with, 100.) (Well, I guess every one except the one in the FDM.)

I remember my sim examiner, as a new hire, telling me that they don't care about stick and rudder skills, it's all about "managing the airplane" (a phrase that increasingly makes me want to puke, as if the latter is to replace the former). This is not my sardonic retelling, he meant it exactly like that.

Then my line training instructor discouraged hand flying since "I'd get plenty of that later."

Once when I was sitting in the crew room, I overheard a line training instructor sitting with a newly upgraded captain about to fly in the left seat for the first time. He briefed him that they would focus on "managing the airplane" as he already has plenty of experience hand flying. But how was that prior experience determined? Why did the instructor assume that the new captain hadn't followed all his other captains' examples?

So when does the hand flying actually come? At every stage of the airline experience, it's supposed to come (or have come) at some other stage. And whenever hand flying experience is assumed without foundation, it's only wishful thinking and a fig leaf to allow them to avoid the uncomfortable and move on to checking all the boxes without upsetting the apple cart.

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Old 12th Feb 2018, 19:49
  #106 (permalink)  
 
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The was some talk earlier about "finger hoverers" and I definitely flew with one early on. That, combined with the rest of the automation dependent culture we're all complaining about, was an influential experience for me, so for a while I would uncomfortably ask my captains if they mind if I turn the autopilot off, as if I'm asking to borrow money or something.

After a while I managed to flip a switch in my brain and started just confidently briefing what I intended to do ("autopilot on at _______" in the departure brief, and "autopilot off at _______" and "flight director off when _______" in the approach brief) and letting them tell me otherwise if they deem it necessary.

You know that wise encouraging nugget given to nervous young people mustering up the nerve to ask someone out on a date... "let her worry about all the reasons to turn you down!" Kinda like that.

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Old 13th Feb 2018, 14:47
  #107 (permalink)  
 
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Well said Danny your #101 is very neatly put! One factor in this discussion that seems largely overlooked is that of job satisfaction, for surely any procedure that is well executed through a combination of brain power and manual skill is a much greater morale booster than one achieved by pressing buttons and/or flipping switches?

It hardly needs to be said that someone who can use skill and professionalism to do a good job and takes pride in so doing, will be the better for it. Yes automation is here to stay and used sensibly the world is better for it, but the human remains the final backup system and he/she must be able to fill that slot.
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Old 13th Feb 2018, 16:47
  #108 (permalink)  
 
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It hardly needs to be said that someone who can use skill and professionalism to do a good job and takes pride in so doing, will be the better for it. Yes automation is here to stay and used sensibly the world is better for it, but the human remains the final backup system – and he/she must be able to fill that slot.

Spot on. Readers will know which camp I sleep in. We have beaten our gums for years on here and not a lot has changed. There is the occasional incident/crash that reignites the debate. XAA's are reluctant to legislate. They believe that their 'mandatory items' every 6 months are adequate, and they trust/believe that airlines are their own best judges of piloting capabilities beyond those minimums. One could argue that there are different groups of pilots. There are the short-haul Greek island charter guys; there are the multi-sector/day basic airfield commuter guys; there are the multi-sector LoCo flying bus to reasonably equipped airfields, some more than others; and there are the single sector long-haul sluggers who only ever see >2500m ILS radar ATC runways 8-10 times/month.
The required skills are very different, yet the recruiting, training, testing of all pilots is the same. The XAA's trust the airlines will fine-tune their crews to their own network.
We all agree that 'the job' has changed more from piloting the a/c to managing the operation. We may not like it, but it has; yet I read recruiting blurb about the characteristics of pilots sought and it hasn't changed as much as the real job has. If I was recruiting for Highlands & Islands I want a different guy than BA or AF. My interviewing filters would be very different.
As devil's advocate about the airline bosses mandating automatic flight and reduced manual flight training; they argue that, in today's reliability and ever improving infrastructure, it is perfectly possible to operate safely & efficiently in automatic mode. The in-depth manual skills are not necessary. Given the failure rates it's difficult to argue against, until that one day.............. If they are going to advocate that philosophy they need to invest in total understanding and confidence in using the automatics to their full potential and design capability. I've observed that is not the case. Students do not 'learn the automatics', they are told (SOP) which part of the automatic system's capability to use and when. That is it: at this time you say this, press that and the a/c will do this. An ideal day, until........
Murphy and his mates throw you a curve ball that means you do not start at GO...so the sequence will not work and needs modification. That's often when the 'Oops' moments start, and it can be the confused pilot make it worse and the descending spiral starts and is difficult to stop and reverse.
We pilots want to be able to pilot and enjoy our skills. We have no qualms that safety will be compromised. We feel we can judge when & what to use; we had been educated, initially and by practice. There are airlines who believe that pilots are not there to enjoy themselves but do a job on their behalf. For them safety & efficiency = automatics. They have proved reliable. Sadly it is difficult to shoot down completely, and this circular oft repeated debate will continue until all the dinosaurs die off; except for the enlightened managers who know that basic skills are still required for their network.
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Old 13th Feb 2018, 17:35
  #109 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by RAT 5
For them safety & efficiency = automatics. They have proved reliable. Sadly it is difficult to shoot down completely, and this circular
This is a legitimate paradox. Any individual flight, taken on its own, is safer on autopilot. I don't think anyone can reasonably argue against this. Even in the most benign of conditions humans are prone to dangerous attention lapses.

But, considering the effect of consistent lack of practice (and lack of learning in the first place) on flying skill, which is still the final safety backstop when things go haywire, overall safety is decreased by constant autopilot. I didn't think this could be reasonably argued against either, but some are. We are accused of treating the airline as our playground.

So how do you reconcile the two opposing effects, which are on different timescales? The problem with the short-sighted SOP writers who mandate constant automaton is that they only recognize the first of the two.

If what I've said is true, then (by turning off the autopilot) we must necessarily decrease safety for an individual flight to increase safety for all future flights. But how do you quantify the second effect to convince the bean counters that it's worth it? I don't think you can, and from this I also conclude that we're ultimately going to drone airliners, which are only prone to the first effect. It's the only solution to the paradox.

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Old 13th Feb 2018, 17:47
  #110 (permalink)  
 
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That's my point: and that, in some airlines, the automatic ones, the pilot in their flight desks are different animals than Flt OPs were, perhaps, themselves a couple of decades ago. And they are different animals to the airline who has a more 'piloting' philosophy: but the recruitment & training/checking process is the same. There are those in the automatic camp who will disagree that their pilots lack skills, and yet they pay only lip service to teaching & encouraging those skills. A bit of honesty & transparency might be oil on troubled waters when one is trying to question their policy.
We heard from F9'er how his type conversion starts with 4 sessions of raw data stuff. We can, therefore, be confident in which camp that company sits. You only have to look at a TR syllabus, which have all been written in-house, to see what kind of company you are joining. I'm not sure the hordes of cadets have woken up to that yet. They start their expensive dream not knowing they might sometimes be conned; it depends how the dice fall.
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Old 13th Feb 2018, 19:46
  #111 (permalink)  
 
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How about training pilots with stick and rudder skills, in the first place ?

Instead of an MPL where they will fly less than 50 real hours (and none or very few on their own ?) airlines could ask ATOs to train their students modular style : 200 hours of vfr flying on an aircraft without any autopilot, EFIS, GPS or any other sophistication, including 100 alone to really get a feel of what it's like being a captain (even on a very small aircraft). Alone faced with a gusty crosswind landing or touch and go on a night vfr flight.
Then 55 hours of IR training without relying too much on the autopilot, the moving map.. Then 15 hours of CPL, VFR, no AP/FD/FMGC/other acronym, and as for the MCC/JOC : handflying operations as well. The precise details of the autoflight system will be learnt and practised every day with paying passengers.

If you never handflied on a small aircraft, are you really gonna start doing it with paying passengers ?
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Old 13th Feb 2018, 19:53
  #112 (permalink)  
 
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Alone faced with a gusty crosswind landing

Looking at the lunchtime BBC weather chat there seemed to be strong gusty SW winds hitting S. Eng. There aren't many runways head-on. I guess some guys might earn their crust today. Any news?

And I was disappointed hearing of some operators who teach only 1 technique to those new on type. FCTM has 2 or 3 techniques, each with its merits and limitations. I would use the best one, or combination, to achieve the task. In the age of automation, and only one method to be used for a given profile or manoeuvre, it does seem astonishing, that on the day when your rusty crew need all the help they can get, their quiver has only 1 arrow in it, by default.
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Old 14th Feb 2018, 00:57
  #113 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by RAT 5
In the age of automation, and only one method to be used for a given profile or manoeuvre, it does seem astonishing, that on the day when your rusty crew need all the help they can get, their quiver has only 1 arrow in it, by default.
Yet another reason I'm a proponent of airlines not doing their own in house cadet schemes. Everyone doing it the same way, and you wind up with a smaller bag of tricks. Inbreeding, if you will. Not a good thing.

By hiring pilots from a variety of backgrounds, you're less likely to be faced with the situation RAT5 mentioned.
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Old 14th Feb 2018, 01:19
  #114 (permalink)  
 
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Every airline should keep and Old 707 just for live practice all the way to 2 engines out on one side...250 hours in the 707

That will get their hearts right with jets, for sure
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Old 14th Feb 2018, 01:49
  #115 (permalink)  
 
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Bring back Darwin to aviation training.
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Old 14th Feb 2018, 06:36
  #116 (permalink)  
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One threat to safety I see possibly emerging here and being a contributory factor to an incident/accident is the 'old school' captain, who, when warning lights and warning horns sound knocks out the automatics and drops into a well rehearsed routine of issuing commands to his FO and the 'new age' FO who would have been trained to deal with non-normal and emergencies through the automatics.
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Old 14th Feb 2018, 07:06
  #117 (permalink)  
 
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You have a valid point but in part at least I think that observation got made post a certain accident in the U.K. almost 30 years ago.
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Old 14th Feb 2018, 08:26
  #118 (permalink)  
 
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Yet another reason I'm a proponent of airlines not doing their own in house cadet schemes. Everyone doing it the same way, and you wind up with a smaller bag of tricks. Inbreeding, if you will. Not a good thing.
By hiring pilots from a variety of backgrounds, you're less likely to be faced with the situation RAT5 mentioned.


There are a couple of questions raised there:

There is some sound merit, in quality, for having an external ATO doing the basic type rating introduction, even including engine failures etc. They would cover all basic handling and systems education in full. Then the company trainers takeover and add SOP's and use of company checklists onto the foundations built.

The last comment, about hiring experience from varied backgrounds to give variety of techniques, wouldn't work in the rigid SOP environment.

Since 60's there have been airlines that had their own training schools and took students from zero - frozen ATPL - line jet. They were groomed & steeped in company culture. They knew only the company way. I've been in >8 airlines in various countries, and been astonished how narrow those guys' thinking was about 'skinning the cat'. There was one way and, as they were the 'big boys on the block' with the biggest training dept', their way must be correct. Incestuousness in perfection. You'll find all the national majors are like that because once in no-one ever leaves. Some of them try to re-invent the wheel. (Prune readers will be familiar.) However, that is not to say it doesn't work. They have more resources and so their pilots have solid in-depth training on whatever type. The training dept' dictates the standards, and pays for it.
However, in the outside 'commercial' world of self-funding pilots the thinking is different. Incestuous cloning is on display, but sometimes the in-depth (time consuming more expensive) training of a/c handling & systems knowledge is missing. Rigid SOP's plus a rudimentary knowledge are deemed satisfactory.
In these days of improved reliability & infrastructure the statistics are what count. The romantic arguments by 'old school' are dismissed. I think the recruiters should be more honest with the dreamers. Today flying is all about a life style. Who you work for, what type you fly, what other types does the company offer, what progressions are available and even if it is an operator for a whole career.
Unless you are 'taken under the wing' from the beginning, cadets start on an expensive adventure to an unknown destination. Some are disappointed in the early years, but most adapt; they have to. It's good money at an early age, compared to other professions, but it can become mundane for some and not so glamorous or wiz-bang as expected. Zipping over the countryside VFR without a care was fun; even aerobatics. Then the world of automation and sitting up in the wild blue yonder for hours staring at little changing TV screens becomes your life.
I met many plots whose real enjoyment was not the work, but the time off and the money to use on leisure. Think how much emphasis is placed, by some pilots of limited experience in airlines, on a fixed roster pattern so they can plan their time off. The joy of going to work is less than the joy of days off. Then you hear of those who are so knackered that the days off are not so much for leisure and balance as for recovery.
I also have LH mates who play more golf down route than at home. The wife sees to that. There are those who have more adventures down route than on days off. They look forward to the work to bring them to their adventure playground.
Then there are the multi-sector days on end grind with only 1/2 a nights sleep each day. Chalk & cheese.
It's all about the life style on offer.
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Old 14th Feb 2018, 09:38
  #119 (permalink)  
 
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Some of these Posts make me think loads out there have either never sampled the sheer delights of hand flying,but when I try to point out that thats what FLYING is all about-IS IT NOT??Then one of you states in maybe irritation, or anger, he feels that my 7 points of Airmanship can be dismissed as ARROGANCE!PHEW!!!When I ran a ATPL/CPL/QFI Training School(We had one of the best rates of passes of IRT/GFT) in the early 80s between Overseas and UK based Aviating,I would have sent him away to find his way elsewhere as a visit to Stand 32 CAAFU would have been a disaster.Such people who are happy to sit in an office monitoring TV screens wearing the Uniform of a Qualified Pilot,that have never enjoyed the joy of zooming around the sky high above clouds in the glorious sunshine,in the company of others in the same mind set,have certainly missed out of the experience and sensations,and yes a certain amount of fear and trepidation!!Canopies iced up at night,taking gloves off hoping to clear a patch to try to see the stars with JPT climbing and slight rumbles,that no one forgets.I was lucky to have had 45 years of aviating in exciting times,but though the last 5 in your now commonplace 3rd level Airliners,as I think they are referred to,made me very glad to see the back of it.So if stick and rudder guys are now a thing of the past ,then woe betide you lot who hope to cope when all the Bells and Whistles with the Charge of the Light Brigade hurt your ear drums,have the confidence to control your Aircraft,maybe in IMC with no horizon.What does your backside think you are?Upside down ,Climbing, Descending,VSIs playing up,Mach meter showing constant,yet altimeters going up?????A nightmare scenario you seem happy to think will not happen to you.Just a thought from one of your dinosaurs that tried to maintain a high standard of Handling Aeroplanes ,making life a little easier within the constraints of the Bean Counters!!!I am happy to go now!
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Old 14th Feb 2018, 10:22
  #120 (permalink)  
 
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There is no doubt whatsoever that permanent full automation controlled by pilots with rigid SOP’S written by a myopic Flight Ops. Dept. will give a highly reliable, very safe operation flight after flight. Build in very conservative restrictions and limits, enforce strict adherence to SOP’s by administering the most severe penalties, punish minor mistakes and reduce the thinking required by your flight crew and you will have the safest operation in the world, year after year. Your airline will be virtually incident free month after month, year after year.

So what is the problem with that? A fantastically safe operation where possibly millions of people have been flown on tens of thousands of flights risk free. Such an airline would be an insurance company’s dream client, shareholders would pat themselves on the back for investing in such an excellent company and passengers would feel safe knowing they will always get to their destination. And if I was a betting man, I would gamble that they would as well. These are the indisputable facts.

There is only one problem with such an operation. The odd ball, the card dealt from the bottom of the pack, the unexpected failure, the weather that wasn’t predicted, strange meteorological conditions, the software glitch, hardware faults in aircraft and on the ground, failures in planning software etc. These can and do happen. So the question is, when one or two of these events occur on a flight, how will it be handled? Are the crew capable of understanding that there is a problem and secondly, how will they overcome that problem.

On a takeoff roll, will they naturally firewall the power levers and gentle ease the thing into the air after suffering from a hidden bug in the performance software? When the ILS pops off line on their way to an alternate, will they be able fly a visual approach? How well will a windshear go-around be flown? When the autothrottle fails for no reason, will it just be taken in their stride as a minor inconvenience? How will a TCAS RA or a wake vortex encounter be flown? When the FMS decides to wander off all by itself, how will they navigate? How will an unreliable airspeed indication be handled?

Despite what manufacturers might like to say, their aircraft are designed to be flown by pilots. They would love to design us out, but are unable to do so. I’m flying version 27.1 of my aircraft’s flight control software. And it’s full of bugs. As will the next version be - I’ll guarantee it. Only when we have Flight Control Software version 1.0 still running error free after 10 years will our jobs might just be in jeopardy. And even then, who is to say there are no bugs in the operating system running and/or in the physical chips in the hardware.

So we are needed as the back-up. We have to make decisions and actually fly the thing every now and again when the systems let us down. So how do we acquire and maintain the skills that enable us to take over when the automatics fail? I think the answer is very obvious. So how much is enough? Well the rules say we have to let the autopilot fly in the cruise in RVSM airspace and it should land when the visibility is below manual landing minima. And that’s it.

My suggestion is that further restrictions should be based on the actual conditions of the day, common sense and crew arrangements. Restrictions should not be placed in Ops. manuals or SOP’s. Let pilots do more. Keep them current, allow them to fly manually to maintain and develop their handling skills so cabin crew don’t know if the autopilot is engaged or not. Also, stop them from getting bored. Allow those who want to fly to do so. Our performance is degraded if all we do is spend hour after hour flyng on autopilot looking a set of flat screens. If we don’t fly enough, come the day when flying is required, our performance will be found woefully lacking.

And what will the effect be with Flight Ops. departments? After downloading QAR data I’ll guarantee they’ll runaround the place saying look at all these nasty exceedences, of which there will now be many. They’ll infer an increase in minor incidents will automatically lead to something bigger. They would love to make us stop flying manually and use the automatics. But unknown to them, these incidents will be the symptoms that will hide the fact they have a pilot workforce that is more capable of dealing with greater range of events. Visual approaches might not end up with a crash in the sea short of the runway, go arounds might be performed properly and naturally, their aircraft might not be skimming trees miles after bungling a non-precision approach etc. But the big change will be that when the card is dealt from the bottom of the pack, when component X fails it won’t be luck that saves the day, it will be the skill of the competent, fully current well rounded crews who enjoy their jobs.
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