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Aircraft and size

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  • Member since
    June, 2014
  • From: New Braunfels , Texas
Aircraft and size
Posted by Tanker - Builder on Friday, October 14, 2016 8:18 AM

 Hi ;

   I just got finished commenting on the Airliner / Civil aircraft thread . Made me think of something . How many of you have ever been in the cockpit of any of the great Propeller driven planes ?

   Man ! That is , by today's standards one tiny place for two crew , not to mention those that required a flight engineer as well . I thought about my visit to the " Flak - Bait " cockpit area at the Smithsonion .That was actually smaller than My B-25 !

      Now today we have these big flying towns .( might as well call them that ) Where I came from only had a population of 234 . On a good day !

   Now my question is . Here we have fly - by - wire . Better  , Maybe ! Trustworthy , Not in my opinion . We as a species get complacent when machines and electronics do the job for us . I am sure aircrews are no different overall .

    Yes , well trained , but when it comes down to the nuts and bolts ,  "Sully " said it best " I did what I was trained to do " .You can't train a machine , you can only program it ! I miss the old days , yes . Who really needs to get from one place too another at the possible cost to your health and well being ? Not I .

 I go slow and easy . Why ? Because I am old and set in my ways , Yes ! And darned proud of it . Planes though , Whatever  !, I love them all anyway ! Tanker - Builder

  • Member since
    November, 2009
  • From: Twin Cities of Minnesota
Posted by Don Stauffer on Friday, October 14, 2016 9:21 AM

Some implementations of fly-by-wire scare me.  Now, there are some that still have hard cables or rods, and the fly-by-wire works on the boost only.  but there are ones that have no direct connections- the electrons are completely in charge.  In my last job, I asked the department head of our controls group if he was comfortable letting his family fly on the new airbus, the first commercial plane with fly-by-wire.  He said he was uncomfortable with it.

But, then seeing how much effort went into the reliability of those avionics systems I began to feel better.  Triple redundant flight control systems, or in some cases three plus one, with the forth being not identical in design, provide reliability probably way beyond a human pilot.

But, the design of the human factors on some of the systems is pretty crappy.  If the pilot cannot easily decide what mode to put the system in, in a given situation, that is worse than having no autopilot at all.  That was a factor in some of those airbus crashes.

The thing that worries me is that those commercial airliner systems have megabuck avionics systems to get that reliability.  We have automobiles now with throttle by wire.  No redundancy at all. I have a car with throttle-by-wire, and I have practiced putting drive system in neutral with car moving, the suggested emergency action for a "stuck throttle."  However, the transmission controls are electronic, not direct mechanical linkage, so it definitely is not foolproof!

 

Don Stauffer in Minnesota

  • Member since
    March, 2008
  • From: Charleston, SC
Posted by kg4kpg on Friday, October 14, 2016 12:31 PM

Only old passenger aircraft I've ever gotten to sit in the cockpit of was a friends Lockheed 10 Electra. The plane was a whole lot bigger than his Beechcraft Baron but sure was a lot more crampt for space. I got to fly the Baron, it was like driving a sports car. Never got to go up in the Electra before he sold it.

  • Member since
    July, 2004
  • From: Sunny So. Cal... The OC
Posted by stikpusher on Friday, October 14, 2016 2:59 PM

but seriously, I have been fortunate enough to sit in the cockpit of a B-25, T-6, DC-3, and some various whirly birds...

 

F is for FIRE, That burns down the whole town!

U is for URANIUM... BOMBS!

N is for NO SURVIVORS...

       - Plankton

LSM

 

  • Member since
    August, 2014
  • From: Willamette Valley, Oregon
Posted by goldhammer on Friday, October 14, 2016 6:07 PM

I've been in all crew stations on B-52G,s, both pits on Phantoms, in the office of a C-130, and in Hueys and Blackhawks.   None are built for crew comfort.  Not even the bunk on the old BUFF. Nevr had a chance to stick my head in the cockpit of a civilian liner though.

 

Not much for FBW though, give me cables anyday.  Fixed enough bad wiring at various plugs and connectors in my day in the service.

  • Member since
    November, 2009
  • From: Twin Cities of Minnesota
Posted by Don Stauffer on Saturday, October 15, 2016 9:36 AM

The cockpit that really surprised me was when I got to sit in an F-16.  During WW2 most cockpits were small, and AAF had size limits for people to be trained as fighter pilots- though some big guys managed to find ways to get around that.  But later planes got bigger, and so did cockpits- until that F-16!  I couldn't believe how tight it was.  The instrument panel is part of a bulkhead with two holes in it for legs to go through.  First thought that came to mind when I sat in it, was what happens to your feet if you have to eject?

Don Stauffer in Minnesota

  • Member since
    June, 2014
  • From: New Braunfels , Texas
Posted by Tanker - Builder on Sunday, October 16, 2016 8:06 AM

Yeah Don !

     Then besides that what if the canopy charge doesn't go off ? Do they even have a manual system ? I would like to think so . T.B.

  • Member since
    March, 2009
  • From: Yorkville, IL
Posted by wolfhammer1 on Wednesday, October 26, 2016 5:01 PM

Don, While I would have to double check, my memory is telling me that the pilots have straps attached to their boots that pull their legs back against the seat before it leaves the aircraft.  In addition, most modern ejection seats have "horns" that pop up to smash through the canopy in case it doesn't separate cleanly.  Ejection is dangeraous enough without having amputations as part of it. Stick out tongue

John

  • Member since
    January, 2009
  • From: hamburg michigan
Posted by fermis on Wednesday, October 26, 2016 10:28 PM

Ditto

 

  • Member since
    June, 2014
  • From: New Braunfels , Texas
Posted by Tanker - Builder on Saturday, November 12, 2016 7:29 AM

Hi Fermis !

 Hey ! I am sure that Humper will appreciate these seats . Nice picture , and just so you know  , so do I . Tanker - Builder

  • Member since
    May, 2008
  • From: Ypsilanti, MI
Posted by MIflyer on Wednesday, February 08, 2017 2:33 PM

I fly Learjets... you can identify the Captain and FO by which way their necks are cranked. :) My dream is to someday fly something with a real lav and a coffee maker, LOL!

As to automation, it's a complex issue. I fly old jets with analog automation that is full of gremlins. It flat-out can't be trusted and needs to be monitored constantly. About all it does it allow you to take your hand off the yoke. I've had those autopilots literally try to turn the wrong direction to intercept an ILS. I would welcome newer systems that at least do what they are advertised to do more than half the time.

The key to staying sharp is to have a solid understanding of your systems, and take the opportunity to hand fly even when you don't need to. If the automation takes a dump, flying a raw-data approach by hand is something that you should be prepared to do, at all times. Of course, a lot of companies don't like letting pilots hand fly, since they aren't as efficient as the machine. My company encourages it, and I encourage it with my FOs.

Kevin Johnson    Ypsilanti, Michigan USA

On the bench: 1/72 Eduard F6F Hellcat

  • Member since
    November, 2009
  • From: Twin Cities of Minnesota
Posted by Don Stauffer on Thursday, February 09, 2017 8:58 AM

MIflyer

I fly Learjets... you can identify the Captain and FO by which way their necks are cranked. :) My dream is to someday fly something with a real lav and a coffee maker, LOL!

As to automation, it's a complex issue. I fly old jets with analog automation that is full of gremlins. It flat-out can't be trusted and needs to be monitored constantly. About all it does it allow you to take your hand off the yoke. I've had those autopilots literally try to turn the wrong direction to intercept an ILS. I would welcome newer systems that at least do what they are advertised to do more than half the time.

The key to staying sharp is to have a solid understanding of your systems, and take the opportunity to hand fly even when you don't need to. If the automation takes a dump, flying a raw-data approach by hand is something that you should be prepared to do, at all times. Of course, a lot of companies don't like letting pilots hand fly, since they aren't as efficient as the machine. My company encourages it, and I encourage it with my FOs.

 

One key design feature is the human factors decision on how easy it is to override the modern flight control system.  Some mfgs make it harder than others.  To me, it should be very easy- a moderate over-ride force on controls should disconnect auto systems, and there should be readily apparent warnings detailing the switch.  Some of the Airbus systems seem to resist crew attempts, take too long to switch, and too complicated to take the action.

 

 

Don Stauffer in Minnesota

  • Member since
    May, 2008
  • From: Ypsilanti, MI
Posted by MIflyer on Sunday, February 19, 2017 8:55 PM

Don Stauffer

One key design feature is the human factors decision on how easy it is to override the modern flight control system.  Some mfgs make it harder than others.  To me, it should be very easy- a moderate over-ride force on controls should disconnect auto systems, and there should be readily apparent warnings detailing the switch.  Some of the Airbus systems seem to resist crew attempts, take too long to switch, and too complicated to take the action.

 

As I said, having a solid understanding of your systems, what they do and how they do it, is key... and frankly, some airplanes have systems that defy understanding. You can put the engineers that designed the thing all in the same room, ask "what if?" questions, and they can't agree on the answers. Now imagine pilots trying to sort through those gremlins in real time. Not a happy thought.

Kevin Johnson    Ypsilanti, Michigan USA

On the bench: 1/72 Eduard F6F Hellcat

  • Member since
    June, 2014
  • From: New Braunfels , Texas
Posted by Tanker - Builder on Monday, March 27, 2017 12:04 PM

Kevin ;

 I watch a program on the weather channel called " Why Airplanes Crash "

 It has definitely made me feel more srongly opposed to more electronics in the cockpit . Some bad mistakes by the pilots interacting with those systems has resulted in unecessary los of life .

     That and some airlines don't train the pilots and flight officers in " Hands On " flying techniques with the idea of keeping the airplane aloft regardless of what the instruments and such are saying .

 Especially if he knows the plane is in trouble .  T.B.

  • Member since
    September, 2012
Posted by GMorrison on Monday, March 27, 2017 12:24 PM

B-24 on take off. I'm in the RO seat.

  • Member since
    March, 2010
  • From: Boston
Posted by mach71 on Monday, March 27, 2017 3:20 PM

As a professional pilot for over 30 years I'm not in love with fly by wire. I've never flown FBW, but I have flown aircraft with no manual reversion. One had an ejection seat to solve the problem, the the other had quad hydraulic redundency.

The last 2 aircraft I've flown have manual reversion (MD-80 and 737 now) Both fly fine

without hydraulics, and its nice to know that last option is there if needed. 

Having said that, in the 25 years I've been at my airline we have had only one instance 

of an aircraft landing under manual reversion.

I've never heard of a FBW airliner having complete loss of flight controls.

Modern airliner systems are VERY reliable. 

 

What is a very real issue is aircrew intergration with automation.

In my opinion Boeing does a much better job than Airbus with this.

There are many instances of Airbus crew not understanding what the 

computers are doing. 

Boeings are better at integration, but with any FBW system its important to 

understand that the pilot never has complete control of the aircraft. The computers

are always the final authority on how the flight controls are moved.

 

On the subject of complacency, it can be a problem. Many of my flights are 6 hours long

and humans can not devote complete attention to the autopilot for that length of time.

We monitor the autopilot, and we have warnings when the system degrades/fails. 

And the systems VERY rarely fail.

sig

  • Member since
    August, 2014
  • From: Willamette Valley, Oregon
Posted by goldhammer on Monday, March 27, 2017 3:55 PM

I'll agree that integration and newer avionics and control syatems go hand in glove.  But at the same time aircrew needs to be able to hand fly the aircraft, be it by cable, hydraulic or FBW. 

As well, they need to know and understand when inputs to the system are out of whack, and take corrective measures before disaster strikes.  The above was brought into focus with the Asiania / SF deal landing short of the runway, with the airline preferring to have the system land the aircraft, rather than having crew well trained in hands on ability.

About the only thing equal to or worse than having two solid objects trying to occupy the same given space at the same given time is smacking the ground when the electronics choose the wrong time to go outhouse mouse thanks to Murphy.

Electronics have taken over people's lives in todays world, at times to our detriment.  We are becoming too reliant on them, rather than keeping "man in the loop". 

I fully expect in the next 10-15 years when we look into some offices, we will see the head and shoulders of the pilot and second officer, but they will be well dressed and made up "busts" tied to the seats, and the highest ranking individual on the aircraft will be the head flight attendent.  It will be all computer from gate to gate.

  • Member since
    March, 2010
  • From: Boston
Posted by mach71 on Monday, March 27, 2017 7:16 PM

First and formost is the basic stick and rudder skills. Most of us are very proficient in this.

You don't get hired at a major US airline without it.

We handfly a lot. Every year we practice hand flying in various states duress.

 

The autopilot does have its uses, like at the end of a 12 hour duty day. It's a tool, nothing more.

 

And don't get me started on the Asiana accident. That was criminal missuse of the auto throttle and gross negligence on 3 pilots. They used an auto throttle mode that any pilot should have known was complete wrong and dangerous.

 

Just as bad was the Airbus Air France crash off of Brasil. Three pilots did nothing to recover that aircraft that was perfectly flyable. The computers were giving them very bad information, but basic airmanship should have allowed them to recover.

 

 

 

 

sig

  • Member since
    September, 2012
Posted by GMorrison on Monday, March 27, 2017 7:38 PM

Thinking Air France was worse of the two.

Both examples support my lay persons opinion that FBW beats a poorly trained pilot any day.

one of the smallest cockpits I've ever seen is the Lockheed EC 121.

  • Member since
    November, 2009
  • From: Twin Cities of Minnesota
Posted by Don Stauffer on Tuesday, March 28, 2017 9:21 AM

As mach71 said, modern commercial avionics is very reliable, what with triple and quad redundancy. I wonder, if the auto industry starts building driverless cars or cars with an autopilot more complicated than a simple speed control, will they have anywheres near the reliability of modern commercial stuff?

Don Stauffer in Minnesota

  • Member since
    December, 2002
  • From: Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, England
Posted by Bish on Tuesday, March 28, 2017 9:30 AM

I have been fortunate enough to sit in the cockpit of a C-47 and Lancaster. The lanc is one tight squeeze.

All this automation does worry me. I think driverless cars and all that is not the way to go. There was a programe on the BBC a while back about it, and they were talking aboput pilotless planes. One guy raised the issue of what happens when things go wrong and he used the french airliner which crashed in the Atlantic ofroute from Brazil as an example. It had been on auto pilot when a fault occured and the auto switched off. The crew did not know what to do, only being used to landing and taking off, and they litterally flew it into the sea.

We see the same on our roads with sat nav when people follow it blindly and get into all sorts of problems. No one thinks to check a map or road signs.

IMHO the tech should be there as a back up for us, not taking over with us as a back up to the tech.

 ''I am a Norfolk man, and I glory in being so''

  

On the bench: Hasegawa 1/32nd Ju 87G-2

  • Member since
    March, 2010
  • From: Boston
Posted by mach71 on Tuesday, March 28, 2017 11:10 AM

The most cramped cockpit I've been in was the B-1. You wear that aircraft. The 

Mig-21 was tight also, but you had a sort of bubble canopy to help.

Put 2 200 pound guys in a Cessna 150 and that's the definition of tight!

 

As for autodrive in cars, the problem is MUCH more complicated than an

aircraft autopilot. The enviroment that cars operate in is a whole order of

magnatude more complicated. Cars have to contend with other drivers, 

twisty roads, pedestrians, very complicated weather. All of these are changing

in a very illogical way very quickly.

 

An autopilot just does a few things. It holds an airspeed, course, track, or 

altitude. Add in an flight managment computer(FMC) and it will climb, descend,

or change airspeed within very strict paramiters. Most of these have to be allowed

by the pilots. 

It has no outside sensors to detect dangers like other aircraft or the ground.

Most airliners have low speed protection if the auto throttles are engaged AND

in the correct mode. The Asiana pilots had the auto throttles in the "Level Change"

mode which always gives either max thrust or idle thrust. Since they were descending

it commanded idle thrust. They did not understand this and tried to control the flight

path by pitching the nose up. The FBW prevented them from stalling the aircraft, but it

did not have the energy to safely land at the airport so it hit the sea wall. In this case 

the FBW saved many lives because the pilots were so clueless that they would have 

stalled the aircraft well before the airport and dropping into the bay killing everyone.

 

 

sig

  • Member since
    March, 2013
Posted by patrick206 on Tuesday, March 28, 2017 12:42 PM

It's been a while, but I think I can recall the details fairly well. A 767, (maybe SAS,) enroute to US East coast, Somewhere around the equal time point some vague instances of pixelation "sparklies" began, then would return to normal indications.

As flt progressed the vagaries became more frequent and more severe. Weather was best at Boston Logan and crew appropriately decided to choose that, as their ride was apparently about to go on strike. EFIS panel soon enough went black, only instruments left were the standard mechanical standby, artificial horizon, altimeter, airspeed, compass, etc. About as sophisticated as your average Ercoupe instrument panel.

Emergency was declared, navigated safely to BOS, because of the systems lost they had no brakes other than standby emergency, no anti-skid, no reverse thrust, maybe no flaps, (can't be sure of that one.) Anyone with more details chime in.

Crew peformed superbly, tires/wheels were ground down to the axles, the airplane only over ran the field length by a short distance and was not severely damaged, as I remember.

Once I transitioned to the FMS-FMC-EFIS computerized aircraft later in career, I often wondered if I REALLY understood all there was to know about the systems. Even after years in them and until retirement, I sometimes came across something that I never realized, but darn sure wished I had.

I think in the old 727 days we were more challenged physically and the work load seemed a bit more intense, but we stayed a bit more confident about our skills. In the flying computer airplanes I surely felt much more technically challenged, and a bit less proficient. Likely chalk that up to my being an old goat by that time in career, younger guys seemed more adaptable.

Now long retired, 2001, flying a BEC. (Big Easy Chair)

Patrick

 

  • Member since
    September, 2012
Posted by GMorrison on Tuesday, March 28, 2017 4:04 PM

Mach71 you might remember JAL Flight 2. Pilots were on approach to SFO on 11/22/68 on an ILS coupled landing in a brand new D.C.-8.

Landed in the Bay about 2 1/2 miles short.

Got everybody out ok. UAL maintenance got her cleaned up and back on her feet. Dad was in on that.

  • Member since
    December, 2002
Posted by 7474 on Thursday, March 30, 2017 7:42 PM
My last airplane was the MD-11, given it's age, it's still a very advanced aircraft as per automation is concerned. Now I'm flying a 737-300/400, I feel really good and safe flying that; as long as I remind myself not to get complacent, it's back to steam gauges and no moving maps, but it keeps my situational awareness sharp. The hardest airline job was flying a BE1900 in the Cleveland area, low and slow in the weather, hand flying EVERYTHING. Definitely needed to stay focused on that, especially with flying an approach down to minimums with a strong crosswind. Automation is great, as long as you're not lazy or complacent with it, and you know what it's doing. I hand fly every take off through 10,000' AGL, and the approach/landing prior to starting to make configuration changes. As a really great captain once told me "it's good to use all the automation, but ALWAYS keep a healthy mistrust of it." Garbage in = garbage out.
  • Member since
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  • From: Twin Cities of Minnesota
Posted by Don Stauffer on Friday, March 31, 2017 9:07 AM

I have heard that one of the problems with the Airbus series is that it took too long to go from computer control to hand flying, in an emergency.  I heard it was much easier in an MDC product, never heard about Boeing.  Is it quick and easy to go from autopilot to manual control?

 

Don Stauffer in Minnesota

  • Member since
    March, 2010
  • From: Boston
Posted by mach71 on Friday, March 31, 2017 9:54 AM

I've never flown an Airbus, but I have spent much time in the cockpit on the jumpseat.

It seems just as easy to click off the autopilot in an Airbus as any airliner. 

It's a certification thing. There is a button on the control yolk or stick, a switch on the 

autopilot panel, Overridding the controls manually (not easy), or activating the pitch

trim. All of these will disconect the autopilot. 

 

The Airbus has no trim. The computers take care of that, so there is no trim switch.

 

But what is disconecting the autopilot? On a FBW you can never really do that.

The computers are ALWAYS flying the aircraft. The input either comes from pilots control

movement or the FMC's. Airbus sets hard limits on what the pilots can do with the aircraft, Boeing does not. 

 

Does this help?

sig

  • Member since
    March, 2013
Posted by patrick206 on Friday, March 31, 2017 12:10 PM

Never flew an Airbus, jump seat a few times, crew didn't seem entirely in love with the A/C. Strange and less than comforting noises from under the floor, as we left the gate and rolled down the taxiway. CPT couldn't wait until mandatory two years was up, then he'd bid back to whatever Boeing or MD he could hold a line on.

As in all systems, failure not only can happen but predictably will, at some point. Certification requirements dictate that manual control must be possible, but as Mach71 rightfully points out, fly by wire means there is not literally full manual control available in the 'Bus. Don't know the airplane, but seems lot's of smoke and mirrors involved between the side sticks and actual control surfaces. No cables or push/pull tubes. WHAT???

In the 777 SFO screwup: First an experienced CPT and FO, PLUS a senior company instructor were on deck. WX VFR, cleared for visual approach, ILS inop. Crew still engaged auto airspeed/throttles, but with no glide slope, that auto feature can't function. Crew had VASI for descent guidance, continued approach flying manually, but failed to monitor airspeed.

As the VASI guided them for approach slope maintenance, no auto throttle or auto airspeed function operating, airspeed continued to erode. I think the speed got to as low as just barely over 100 KTS, then the A/C was falling out of the sky at the same time as the airport end was reached. Had this horrendous F/U happened just a few feet shorter, the A/C and all aboard would have been a big lawn dart against the steep airport boundary edge.

When flying any approach, the most basic requirement is "instrument scan." Never let an instrument within the primary essential "T" pattern, go without attention for anything longer than a brief few seconds. What that crew did was like trying to play a guitar without strings, at some point they would have seen what was missing, if they had looked.

So, no matter how technologically advanced the systems, things can go belly up. Nice that the lastest can do everything but pay for themselves, but still the basic piloting skills are required to fly them when systems go renegade. The job was certainly more enjoyable when it required more of those sight, touch, stick and rudder skills, with less flipping switches and turning knobs. Just saying.

Maybe the next generation airplanes will require a crew of a Captain and a dog. The Captains job will be to feed the dog, the dogs job will be to bite the Captain if he touches the controls.

Patrick   

 

  • Member since
    July, 2004
  • From: Sunny So. Cal... The OC
Posted by stikpusher on Friday, March 31, 2017 4:42 PM

patrick206

Maybe the next generation airplanes will require a crew of a Captain and a dog. The Captains job will be to feed the dog, the dogs job will be to bite the Captain if he touches the controls. 

Now that sounds an awful lot like the chimps in the Mercury program...

 

F is for FIRE, That burns down the whole town!

U is for URANIUM... BOMBS!

N is for NO SURVIVORS...

       - Plankton

LSM

 

  • Member since
    September, 2012
Posted by GMorrison on Friday, March 31, 2017 4:58 PM

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LIavbI0i5HQ

Chief Scientist (Werner Von Braun type): I agree with those who say we could launch a pod.

Lyndon Johnson: A pot?

Chief Scientist: A POD - a, uh, capsule. Now, we would be in full control of zis pod. It vill go up like a cannonball, and come down like, uh, a cannonball, splashing down into ze water, the ocean, vith a parachute to spare the life of the specimen inside.

Lyndon Johnson: Spaceman?

Chief Scientist: SPE-CI-MEN.

Lyndon Johnson: Well, what kind of spe-ci-men?

Chief Scientist: A tough one. Responsive to orders. I had in mind a jimp.

Lyndon Johnson: JIMP? Well what the HELL is a jimp?

Chief Scientist: A jimp. A-a-a jimpanzee, Senator. An ape.

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