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View Diary: How Airliners Work - Instrument Approaches (121 comments)

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  •  Fascinating diary. Thanks. (2+ / 0-)
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    Mr Robert, Simplify

    I was a little taken aback by some comments from SFO that there should be no concern about the ILS system being out of service because pilots have other onboard systems to help them land. Presumably this system serves a useful safety function. Otherwise, why would it exist? Yes, lots of planes have been making safe landings at SFO with this system down, but the reason for redundancies in any system like this is to limit the potential for human errors or mechanical problems to cause events like this. Like most aviation accidents, the NTSB will likely identify more than one contributing factor.

    •  It's mostly there for bad weather (4+ / 0-)
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      annieli, Mr Robert, Treg, suzq

      You are correct, however. Even during good weather we use it as a safety feature.

      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 Sun Jul 07, 2013 at 05:23:10 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I heard some random comment on the news to the (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Mr Robert, Simplify, Treg, suzq

        effect that the NTSB has in the relatively recent past complained/commented that automated landing (presumably using ILS rather than any on-board GPS or similar system) has become so common that pilot proficiency in manual visual approaches was suffering.  

        Seems a bit hard to believe, although my main contact with pilots was with NASA astronauts, who always wanted us to give them the option to turn off the computer so they could fly the spacecraft by hand.

        We must drive the special interests out of politics.… There can be no effective control of corporations while their political activity remains. To put an end to it will neither be a short not an easy task, but it can be done. -- Teddy Roosevelt

        by NoMoJoe on Sun Jul 07, 2013 at 05:36:22 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  It's true (5+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          NoMoJoe, Mr Robert, Treg, suzq, VTCC73

          It's easy to use the automation so much that you become dependent on it.

          I like to use it at busy airports because it frees me up to concentrate on other things.

          If I'm going into some place like Casper Wyoming I prefer to kick all that stuff off and hand fly the jet.

          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 Sun Jul 07, 2013 at 06:44:04 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Hand flying... (0+ / 0-)

            what a concept! Just kidding, had fly when you can.

            "We will never have the elite, smart people on our side."~Little Ricky Santorum

            by Dahankster on Sun Jul 07, 2013 at 07:03:41 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I'm old school (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              ban nock

              I cut my teeth on jurassic jets like the B-52. I'd been flying for over 20 years before I ever saw an auto-throttle.

              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 Sun Jul 07, 2013 at 07:09:17 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Yep... (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Major Kong

                that is old school.  My first auto-throttle airplane was the 727...they called for climb thrust and I provided it!  My C-model Eagle didn't even have it.  It did however have a lame two axis autopilot.  Not even tied to the altimeter.

                "We will never have the elite, smart people on our side."~Little Ricky Santorum

                by Dahankster on Sun Jul 07, 2013 at 07:32:57 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

    •  According to BBC (0+ / 0-)

      "Among the questions investigators are trying to answer was what, if any, role the deactivation of a ground-based landing guidance system played in the crash. "

      By deactivation, I understood deliberate out of service, as in repair or maintenance, etc. Presumably there would be notice of that. Others here have said this crash caused the outage but that isn't what I would take this sentence to mean.

      Could the pilots mistakenly have been waiting for some sort of guidance that never came?

      •  There was a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) out on the (0+ / 0-)

        ILS outage.  So it would have been common knowledge.  You shouldn't be flying commercial planes if you don't check the NOTAMs.  

        He still had the Precision Approach Path Indicator (PAPI) which is a little visual cue of how you are doing in regards to the preferred glidepath.  More red lights than white indicate that you are off course.

        Beginning pilots learn "WHITE you're light, RED you're dead."

        Thing is, with the sheer size of the plane, did the PAPI give him enough time, soon enough, to make a decision to abort and go around?

        Given that no go-around request was made until the plane began stalling--just one second before the tail hit the seawall, maybe not.

    •  They may rethink that for 777s in light of this (0+ / 0-)

      accident.  Turns out, the pilot had only 45 hours and this was his maiden flight into SFO.  

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