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Why is there no "new flight deck option" for the A320 series?

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Why is there no "new flight deck option" for the A320 series?

Old 27th Sep 2022, 18:05
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Moving thrust levers give you tactile feedback of commanded thrust, while you are looking out the window. The gauges only work if there's someone looking at them.
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Old 27th Sep 2022, 18:19
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Yes, I realise that.

I am just an average pilot but I find it easy to scan both as PF; even during a turbulent approach.

Also, the Airbus auto-thrust is very good, and I trust it.
.

Last edited by Uplinker; 28th Sep 2022 at 09:17. Reason: clarification
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Old 27th Sep 2022, 18:31
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Originally Posted by Uplinker View Post
What, actually, do moving thrust levers tell you that the Airbus FBW family doesn't? Genuine question
.
It's not a genuine question, it's a hook for you to brag about how good you are.
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Old 27th Sep 2022, 18:39
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No, just no. Not at all.

It is a genuine question. I see the speed trend arrow dip, and I feel and/or see the engines spool up, or vice versa. I cannot be the only one who finds it easy? I am definitely not being falsely modest.
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Old 27th Sep 2022, 18:47
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The current cockpits are meant to be similar to each other. There is no major change to be expected. Look at the A350 and you get the idea. The next cockpit, EIS like around 2035, will be different. Maybe single pilot maybe optionally manned. Maybe one should better not ask for it?
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Old 28th Sep 2022, 09:56
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Originally Posted by Less Hair View Post
The current cockpits are meant to be similar to each other. There is no major change to be expected. Look at the A350 and you get the idea.
I do know that and wasn‘t asking for a total redesign. I‘m just wondering why even gradual improvements that won‘t exceed the differences allowed for variants or CCQ are absent from the 320 series. The whole A350 suite evidently wouldn’t fit but a variation of wider displays and some improvements like vertical situation display, etc. certainly would.

Thanks for all the opinions.
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Old 28th Sep 2022, 10:44
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Originally Posted by FlyingStone View Post
Moving thrust levers give you tactile feedback of commanded thrust, while you are looking out the window. The gauges only work if there's someone looking at them.
A slightly risky assumption...
They give you tactile feedback of thrust lever position, not necessarily the actual engine thrust response. See various accident reports!
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Old 30th Sep 2022, 13:31
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Hi Iggy, further to our pm exchange; No, I had nothing to do with the Airbus FBW design, (but I do think it is an extremely good design )
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Old 30th Sep 2022, 13:50
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Originally Posted by Uplinker View Post
iggy, whoa ! No, I don't assume that, and I apologise and meant no disrespect, but from your previous comments; including words such as 'slamming the thrust levers', I have to ask.

Surely, even on a turbulent approach you have the capacity to glance at the N1/EPRs when you see the speed trend arrow dip or overshoot? Surely you can see and hear and feel the engines spool up or down?

What, actually, do moving thrust levers tell you that the Airbus FBW family doesn't? Genuine question - I have flown both Airbus and B737, and cannot see any advantage in the Boeing system - for me, it added more problems than it allegedly solved.
.

Thanks Uplinker!

My comments about the moving levers come from my experience in the MD80, and then the 320.

On the MD80 you have the option of using manual thrust once you disconnect the A/P, or keep it until you flare and touchdown. If you do a go around, you advance the thrust forward to the precalculated N1 while pushing the button on the side of the lever at the same time, and then ask the PNF to set GA thrust for you.

This system "taught me" how to fly the thrust manually because, flying manually, with the A/T on, you will feel with your hand the position of the levers for a certain N1, and their displacement when the A/T adjusts the N1 to maintain the commanded speed. It will show you the lever positions of each N1 setting, and the amount of displacement needed to adjust the variations of speed that you are seeing in your IAS. After doing that for a while, you just have to let your "muscle memory" replicate the same movements when you disconnect the A/T, giving you a huge advantage over the Airbus system, where you disconnect the A/T only every 6 months, in a simulator, and usually in the middle of an ECAM procedure, and an emergency. I am also a sim instructor in the 320 and can't get my head around the fact that most pilots in the sim start sweating profusely when they have to use manual thrust, even those with high experience on type. They are aware of the pitch corrections needed to keep the airplane within the desired path, and the amount of rudder needed to correct the drift when landing in crosswind because it is something they do everyday in the line, but they are most lost when it comes to how much they need to advance or retard the thrust levers in manual flight to correct a small amount of IAS, some of them do not even know how to handle them properly, and they definitely do not have N1 included in their scan. In the line, they just fly manual with their hand on the levers, and assume the A/T is doing its job. They don't need to keep an eye on it, and it is just human nature if they stop doing it when you fly 4 sectors a day. In the sim I can spot miles away a pilot that comes from a type that requires manual thrust just by how naturally they move the levers.

What I didn't like about the MD80 is that you have to press the button on the side in a GA, otherwise the levers will go back to their previous thrust setting, but at the same time you can't advance the levers all the way to the end because you will exceed the EGT, so most pilots in the MD80 got used to advance the thrust levers, and then release them so the PNF would set GA thrust. If they forgot to press the button on the side after advancing the levers, the airplane would stall if the PNF was not quick enough to correct it. This is what happened to the MD80 that crashed in Phuket in 2008, they made a GA in wind shear, but forgot to press the button on the side, the levers did not stay in GA thrust, and the airplane stalled.

I also flew the ERJ145, a type that has FADEC, but no autothrust. You still had the benefit of advancing the levers all the way forward in a GA without having to think about exceeding the EGT limit, something I really missed when I changed to the MD80 afterwards.

Do I hear the engines from the cockpit? Not in a 320, wearing the headsets, and landing in heavy rain. Do I glance at the N1? Yes, if my scan allows me to. I just flew some days ago in a really shitty weather, on final the turbulence and crosswind was such that I could barely keep the airplane centered on the runway trak (NPA approach), and all my focus was to handle the side stick in the correct way so I would not enter into PIO. Did I glance at the N1? Just enough to know that we were stabilised, but after that, in a high stress situation, I just let the A/T do its job, and monitor the IAS while I fly the pitch. BUT, energy is the sum of IAS plus thrust, right? How was the energy of the airplane during the approach? I have no idea. I don't know if, to maintain Vapp, the engines were at the usual range of N1, or they were 20% higher, meaning that I was getting short of energy. The IAS was correct, but I was not aware of the excess of energy available. We did a GA at around 200'AGL, and the transition from 5 degrees to 15 was quite rough, initially the pitch went up too quickly (I guess because we were light and the engines are placed under the wings, so the increase of thrust adds momentum to the pitch up), and I had to find my way with side stick to find a proper balance between pitching up not too quickly, not to let the IAS go below target, and pitching up quickly enough so we wouldn't stop climbing, all that in turbulence. Did I panic? No, but I pushed the levers all the way forward, happy not to have to monitor the EGT or ask the FO to set up GA N1. I was clenching my fist on the levers, I can tell you that.

Don't forget that you come from Boeing, so you already have the skill required to fly the thrust manually, in all circumstances, same as me with my experience on the MD80, but it is very common these days to find pilots that start flying the Airbus and stay there all their life. Count the times you flew the Boeing with the autothrust off, and compare it with someone that has only flown the Airbus. You must have hundreds of time more experience than them, and thus, your awareness of the N1 settings, lever positions, relation between trim setting and N1 on final, relation between weight, landing flaps, and N1, how quick the engine spools up depending on where the N1 is... all that is in your muscle and brain memory, it is something that you do without thinking. A pure Airbus pilot, who has flown only Airbus his whole life, just doesn't have that benefit.

What I would like to know is the reason why the system was designed that way. I understand the FBW concept and I can see the huge benefits it brings along. If to have a FBW flight controls you need to cut the pilot out of trimming the airplane, so be it, it adds safety as a whole. But, Airbus could have let the levers move along the N1 without losing any of the FBW features. You don't need to make the levers move above the CLB detent, just make them move along the N1 only in SPEED mode. If the airplane stalls, let the TOGA thrust kick, as it does now even with the levers on IDLE. I don't see how a moving lever would interfere with the rest of the features...
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Old 30th Sep 2022, 14:30
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I read recently that originally, they weren't even going to put in thrust levers at all, Auto thrust is all the was going to be. Is this true?
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Old 30th Sep 2022, 18:52
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For what it's worth, I didn't fly the '73 first; I flew a series of turbo-props for my first years of commercial airline flying, followed by the BAe146, none of which had auto-thrust. I then changed airline and went onto the A320 - my first auto-thrust aircraft.

I took to it like a duck to water - my background is in electronics, and I very soon understood the way the engineers had designed the A320; it seemed very logical to me, (once I had understood the side-stick logic).
I was used to scanning the engine instruments, which we should all do anyway - even with moving levers - so I found it no bother at all.

Why don't the levers move? They don't need to, the auto-thrust is very good and it is very easy to see what the engines are doing, and Airbus innovations such as groundspeed mini, mean that the energy is retained, and the aircraft is almost always in a safe place energy-wise. The auto-thrust works very well, (apart from older A330s being "lazy" on convective approaches, but which is easy to correct), so I trust that it will do the right thing for me, and if the speed decays or increases more than a little; I just flick my eyes across to confirm that the auto-thrust is commanding the engines correctly.

By not needing to move in auto; the engineers were able to design a series of thrust lever gates to easily and intuitively command the different phases required: Normal, Flex, Max continuous, TOGA, all the while keeping the option of conventionally and intuitively going to manual thrust if required. I found it relatively easy to operate manually: just watch the speed and adjust as necessary - just like in your car, you can easily keep the speed right by watching only the speedometer and the rev-counter.

Yes, the levers could move in the CLB quadrant, and the MCT quadrant during OEI operations, but that would add a lot of unnecessary complication with motors, clutches, feedbacks, jams, and runaways and all sorts. Also, pilots would get used to feeling the levers and would not monitor the N1/EPRs. Airbus encourages us to scan properly, which is no bad thing.

After 12 years the airline I flew for went into administration. I could only get a job on Boeing 737 freighters - the Classic -300/400.

I found the automatics of the '73 quite crude, and having to have PM's eyes inside the cockpit setting the thrust during the start of the take-off roll and a go-around struck me as very unsatisfactory and safety compromising.

After a season of the '73, I thankfully got a job with another Airbus FBW airline.

Just my take
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Old 30th Sep 2022, 20:09
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Originally Posted by Uplinker View Post
and if the speed decays or increases more than a little; I just flick my eyes across to confirm that the auto-thrust is commanding the engines correctly.
The thrust command, is in the moving thrust levers without need for your eyes. The thrust result, is reflected in the airspeed and vertical speed, both on the PFD.

Though yes the thrust indication should probably still be in the scan. Yeah I'm being a bit pedantic here, and cheeky on purpose. And while I agree that the N1 should still be in the scan, I'm in favor of moving levers (and moving stick/yoke). I say this as someone not having experience with any authothrottle system or FBW, but on the general principle that the fewer disconnections in the plane-pilot interface, the better. I do remember when I changed from rudder pedals that move with yaw damper action, to pedals that don't. And how annoying that was for such a long time.

I think the best engine feedback system (in the absence of engines loud enough to hear) would be if the computers played a music tone with pitch proportional to the N1. Now, your eyes are not required, and can focus on everything going on the PFD and out the window, without having to look over 45 degree to the side. Which brings me to another regular complaint of mine, that they don't display the engine gauges on the PFD where they can stay in constant awareness with much less workload. A little less unorthodox solution, than the music tone.

The '73 quite crude, and having to have PM's eyes inside the cockpit setting the thrust during the start of the take-off roll and a go-around struck me as very unsatisfactory and safety compromising.
On the Airbus, the PM doesn't need to verify the thrust indication on the gauges? I thought your previous argument was based on the necessity to be doing just that.
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Old 30th Sep 2022, 20:37
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On the Airbus, the thrust command is from your hand if in manual, and shown on the N1/EPR gauges if in auto. Very easy to see and assimilate as part of your normal scan - the levers do not need to move. On the '73 as PM I found I was spending far too much time setting and equalising the N1s rather than scanning the other instruments and the PF, that I found it detrimental.

On the Airbus, the auto-thrust will set the correct N1s and only needs a brief glance by PM of the N1s to confirm.

And you talk about having to concentrate solely on the PFD and want the engine instruments on there as well. Without meaning to sound clever, a competent pilot will be able to control the aircraft, monitor the PFD, look out of the window and at the N1/EPRs.

With respect, you say that you have no experience of auto-thrust or fly-by-wire, so really, your comments are merely speculation, based on what you might have heard or imagine. I am confident that if you actually flew Airbus FBW, and were properly trained to do so, you would find it just as easy as I and most others do.

Don't listen to the nay-sayers !
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Old 30th Sep 2022, 21:29
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Originally Posted by Uplinker View Post
On the Airbus, the thrust command is from your hand if in manual, and shown on the N1/EPR gauges if in auto.
I'm aware of this, but I was responding to where the thrust command is, in the context of planes with moving levers in comparison.

On the '73 as PM I found I was spending far too much time setting and equalising the N1s rather than scanning the other instruments and the PF, that I found it detrimental.

On the Airbus, the auto-thrust will set the correct N1s and only needs a brief glance by PM of the N1s to confirm.
Oh, interesting. I always figured that the 737 authothrottle system (actuated differently, as it is) would put the thrust in the right place as quickly by itself. Guess not.

And you talk about having to concentrate solely on the PFD and want the engine instruments on there as well. Without meaning to sound clever, a competent pilot will be able to control the aircraft, monitor the PFD, look out of the window and at the N1/EPRs.
Sure. But being that a design is easily available that makes the competent pilot's tools even better, then why not? Isn't the whole concept behind modern cockpit design, to make the least possible workload and the best ergonomically-fitting interfaces, for everyone?

With respect, you say that you have no experience of auto-thrust or fly-by-wire, so really, your comments are merely speculation, based on what you might have heard or imagine. I am confident that if you actually flew Airbus FBW, and were properly trained to do so, you would find it just as easy as I and most others do.

Don't listen to the nay-sayers !
Yup it's speculation, and I enjoy thinking about flying & airplanes in all of their contexts. Where I don't have the experience I enjoy the conversation and learning, and comparison to how things work in the areas where I am experienced. And so far, all of my experience of losing tactile feedback, has left me with a bad taste in my mouth and without a desire for more.
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Old 30th Sep 2022, 22:26
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Oh, interesting. I always figured that the 737 authothrottle system (actuated differently, as it is) would put the thrust in the right place as quickly by itself. Guess not.
Uplinker is speaking of the 737-3/4/500 - which didn't have FADEC and used a fairly primitive analog electronic engine supervisory control (aka "PMC"). As a result, N1 could vary after speed set (and the autothrottle 'falls asleep' at (IIRC) 60 knots, so it couldn't adjust the thrust levers if N1 started to vary during the TO roll. It's not so much the aircraft as the engine control. At the time the 737-3/4/5 was developed, FADEC was still quite new and novel, and GE was unconvinced that FADEC was worth the trouble (GE wasn't going to do FADEC on the CF6-80C2 until Boeing told them they were not going to put throttle cables in the 747-400 so if they wanted the engine to be offered, they needed to make a FADEC version). As to why they didn't do a proper digital supervisory engine control (as was done on the CF6-80A for the 767) that would have provided proper active N1 control during TO, I don't have a clue.
The 737NG (and of course the MAX) are full FADEC - to set TO thrust it is a simple matter of setting N1 Command to the target - no need to chase N1 as it varies with forward speed. Assuming the engine/FADEC are healthy, they will automatically track commanded N1 as speed and altitude vary.
So in short, Uplinker's complaints about the 737 autothrottle are based on the four decade old version...

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Old 1st Oct 2022, 01:42
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Originally Posted by Vessbot View Post
Which brings me to another regular complaint of mine, that they don't display the engine gauges on the PFD where they can stay in constant awareness with much less workload.
In the 330 (and 340 IIRC), you have the option of displaying the engine parameters on the ND by just switching a rotary selector on the FCU. In the 320 you can transfer the ECAM to the ND as well, but in this case the info on the ECAM will not be displayed.
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Old 1st Oct 2022, 01:47
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Originally Posted by Uplinker View Post
Don't listen to the nay-sayers !
the system works for you (and for me, otherwise I wouldn't be passing my recurrents), but I see the added advantages that a moving lever would bring to the skills of the pilot and the integration with the machine. Other than "the auto-thrust works very well", I haven't read any other reason for the levers to be static, so far, so... let's agree to disagree on this one.

Blue skies for you in the mean time!
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Old 1st Oct 2022, 04:52
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Originally Posted by iggy View Post
In the 330 (and 340 IIRC), you have the option of displaying the engine parameters on the ND by just switching a rotary selector on the FCU. In the 320 you can transfer the ECAM to the ND as well, but in this case the info on the ECAM will not be displayed.
You can do it on the CRJ too, (and probably on most planes) but at the cost of losing the moving map and other MFD info. And you have to twiddle knobs every time, probably drawing weird looks at the very least. I'm talking about having them up as the normal state, where you don't have to do anything special or lose other information.
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Old 1st Oct 2022, 10:21
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I have switched the engine display onto my ND DU in the A330 during normal operations, but it was not SOP, so I only did it a couple of times. And of course you lose the ND display......

Good to know about the later '737 FADECs, and the background; tdracer .
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Old 23rd Oct 2022, 10:12
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Originally Posted by Uplinker View Post
For what it's worth, I didn't fly the '73 first; I flew a series of turbo-props for my first years of commercial airline flying, followed by the BAe146, none of which had auto-thrust. I then changed airline and went onto the A320 - my first auto-thrust aircraft.
Similar to me except after the BAe146 I flew the RJ100 which does have autothrust, a Boeing style implementation that moves the thrust levers. I have no problem with the A320 and knowing what the thrust is doing. I can hear and feel what's happening the majority of the time. I monitor the PFD for speed and if I see a trend I don't like I will glance at the engine display to see if the autothrust is doing something about it. I will generally see the thrust command (spider web) in the right place which makes me happy again. The only thing I miss about moving thrust levers is the ability to manually over-ride the autothrust just by holding the levers against the clutch. On the Airbus you can briefly move the thrust levers forwards of the climb detent for a burst of manual thrust but it's not as subtle and controllable as being able to just hold the levers where you want them. That said, if the autothrust isn't doing what you want then it should probably be disconnected rather than over-ridden.
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