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View Diary: Airbus vs Boeing (118 comments)

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  •  Both (33+ / 0-)

    The plane can be programmed to fly a programmed route or I can click all the automation off and fly it the old fashioned way.

    For a while the philosophy was to use the automation as much as possible.

    Today we're rethinking that and putting more emphasis on keeping our hand flying skills sharp.

    Unless we're in really busy airspace I like to hand fly the plane up to around 20,000 feet. I usually take over for at least the last 1000 feet prior to landing.

    As I like to say "the autopilot doesn't need the practice".

    If the pilot's good, see, I mean if he's reeeally sharp, he can barrel that baby in so low... oh you oughta see it sometime. It's a sight. A big plane like a '52... varrrooom! Its jet exhaust... frying chickens in the barnyard!

    by Major Kong on Sat Mar 09, 2013 at 11:24:52 AM PST

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    •  I'll tag team your comment (13+ / 0-)

      The A320/330/340/380 family's original design philosophy was for the pilot to not hand fly unless absolutely necessary. (The A320 was initially designed without thrust levers! Wiser heads prevailed.) Several airlines policies direct their crews to engage the autopilot as soon as they were safely airborne through the landing using autoland unless operational conditions required otherwise. Hand flying wasn't forbidden, just strongly discouraged.

      Always using the autopilot is a good policy from the standpoint of absolutely precise navigation and fuel efficiency but it is horrible policy for maintaining pilot proficiency. Many airlines would prefer we let the system do the work. Mine even dictated autopilot use for departures, primarily, and some arrivals at specific airports. As MK says I have heard that several airlines are wisely, in my opinion, rethinking that policy.

      Throughout my career I always followed the suggestion of our 757 training department way back in 1986: alternate how you fly each leg. I might use the autopilot from after takeoff through the approach on my first leg of a trip. Then hand fly with the flight director on the next and without the flight director on the third leg. I can safely say I never used autoland unless I had to. The modern electronic magic made flying easier but I never lost the joy of flying the jet whenever I could.

      Time makes more converts than reason. Thomas Paine, Common Sense

      by VTCC73 on Sat Mar 09, 2013 at 03:55:59 PM PST

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      •  Just curious (5+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        RiveroftheWest, Powell, wader, twigg, Simplify
        I can safely say I never used autoland unless I had to.
        when you "had to", was it for training reasons, as opposed to some actual situation you found yourself in?
        •  Several reasons (5+ / 0-)

          1. Low visibility approaches where it was required. Our FAA approved Ops Specifications required an autoland when a Category 2 or 3 approach was flown. Basically anytime the visibility was below half a mile. We could land if visibility was as low as 300' if the jet was all up and the field equipment was operational. I never saw the ground until we were down on any of the Cat 3 approaches I ever flew. These things are always a goat rope. Getting on the ground is the easy part. Finding the gate is a terrific challenge.

          2. Maintenance requirement. The airplane is required to perform an autoland every 90 days to remain certified. Certain unscheduled maintenance on certain components of the system require a successful autoland to recertify the system. That might seem odd but the validation has to be in visual conditions and the jet is not permitted to operate in less than Cat 1 conditions until an autoland is successfully flown.

          3. Pilot qualification. Annual certification is done in the simulator but company requirements may be higher. We were required to do two a year.

          4. Demonstration. I've had several jump seat passengers, generally FAA inspectors but sometimes pilots from other airlines unfamiliar with Airbus, who asked about auto landings and were interesting enough to be worthy of showing off the jet. I don't know why but the only dorked up autolands have been when I was showing off the system.

          The airplane does a fantastic job. Never subtle, it always sticks the landing solidly in the landing zone. Humans usually do better but are unable to do it in the conditions of impossibly low visibility and with the machine's consistency.

          Time makes more converts than reason. Thomas Paine, Common Sense

          by VTCC73 on Sat Mar 09, 2013 at 07:51:24 PM PST

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    •  Interesting stuff --- I have an old army buddy (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      wader, KenBee, twigg, Ed in Montana

      who flies the Airbus for A Major Airline ( go figure -- he's, as I said, an Army reservist - no AF background at all. More to the odd pile, the current CO of his reserve unit is also a commercial pilot - cargo ). I know he likes it ( and has a huge amount of experience with it -- when it first came into service he was one of the guys who ran the simulator/trainer for those making the transition - a mixed bag of both Douglas and Boeing jocks ), and given that he not only has been on the Europe routes he's, of late he's been doing Sydny. He has to have an impressive accumulation of hours by now!

       You have given me some stuff to throw at him when we get together for an annual dinner next month. I might actually be able to fake that I know what I'm talking about for a couple of minutes.....which is two minutes longer than normal.....

      it tastes like burning...

      by eastvan on Sat Mar 09, 2013 at 06:05:47 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

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