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brucek

B744 Autoland Procedures (ATC); and more...

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I recently returned from a trip to Melbourne Australia, flying UA on a B744 (UA 815/816). As usual, ATC comms was available on channel 9, whenever those flight attendants weren't talking. :)On arrival into KLAX from YSSY, I heard our aircraft talking to SoCal Approach, and requesting permission to do an autoland. When we were turned over to Tower, APP said that they had notified Tower of our request, although I never heard it mentioned again on the radio. Is this normal procedure to request an auto-land from ATC, maybe only in the US or anywhere? Are there greater in-trail seperations required for an auto-land, besides those applying to a "heavy"?I decided to note the aircraft's control closely, since I had the heads up that this would be an auto-landing. The only major thing that I noted was at the start of the flare, when a burst of thrust overcame momentarily what must have been more drag with the higher angle of attack.I also listened on the ATC channel on the Australian internal legs YSSY-YMML and YMML-YSSY. On both occasions, and different crew, our UA flight crew mistakingly interpreted Australian ATC, and were corrected after the readback. One instance was a "taxi into position and hold" at YSSY that was intended for another aircraft- and which by the time this was corrected by Sydney Tower we were moving over the hold-short line on 34L. Several other miscommunications on both legs with less possibly dangerous results. It was almost like our pilots were not hearing what they exepcted to hear at different phases of the flight, and several mistaken intersection fixes that required the controllers to spell out the 5 character names. I wonder if this is normal for any flight crew in a different country? Thanks for any comments. The B744 internal legs in Australia were only an hour duration, so even with what I assumed would be derated take-off thrust I thought we had a space launch- a very steep climb out until climb thrust was applied. :)Bruce.

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G'day BruceI dropped you a reply prior to you heading down to enjoy the ride.The UAL crews more often than not go out of YSSY at pretty close to full thrust which makes for great viewing and no doubt an even beter ride!!The request for the autoland is so that aircraft will not go past the CAT hold points and the autoland may be conducted.At rwy's which have ILS capabilty equal to or better than CAT1 there are 2 hold point lines.One for normal ops and the CAT1 line.Aircraft are not permitted to hold over a CAT line when any CAT1 or higher approaches are in progress.Check out the hold point signs next time you go flying.You will find the CAT holds are about 15-20m(can't remember) further from the RWY.All the best.

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Hi Darren,Thanks. Yes, I recall we talked about the high take-off angle of the UA B744's on short trips.Thanks for explaining about the Cat 1 hold. Yes, I know what these are but have never had to use them (as I never fly in IMC- but my IR is well on the way so that may change :) ). I had just never connected an auto-land to a Cat 1 opetaion, but that makes sense when I think about it.Thanks again, and I really enjoyed my time down there.Bruce.

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Hi Darren.I thought that the CAT II/III holding positions only apply in CAT II/III weather conditions, and if you want to do a practise autoland in good weather you could even do it on a runway that isn't CAT II/III certified, as long as you keep in mind that the accuracy of the ILS signals isn't guaranteed, and you are prepared to take over manually if anything doesn't look right.If the above is correct I don't see why there would be a need to ask ATC to do an autoland, but of course if ATC is happy to hold other traffic at the CAT II/III signs it reduces the risk of interference with the ILS signals.Martin767 fetishistIt's a lot like life and that's what's appealing

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Hi Martin,I certainly heard the request to SoCal APP, and was very surprised to hear it. I always thought that pilots did random autolands (I know there is a currency requirement for bot a/c and crew) and no-one was the wiser. Darren's explanation made sense to me if indeed a CatI runway holding is required (although 25L at KLAX is almost always just landings). My first thought was a seperation requirement, maybe for a missed, but that would apply anyway to any landing.What it could have been, and maybe this was what Darren was alluding to: It was a VMC day and Tower may have been conducting visual approaches. An auto-land would require a clearance for an ILS approach. My best thoughts. I recall we were cleared for the ILS, but can't confirm that other a/c were cleared visual.Bruce.

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G'day BruceYou are correct that the Autoland will still work with aircraft at the normal hold.However it then becomes pilots responsibilty if there is a malfunction below 200' caused by interference from parked aircraft.Down here they normally ask aircraft to hold at the CAT1 holds if someone is doing a practice autoland,or advise the crew that aircraf have penetrated the safe area.I personally wouldn't do one given aircraft being in the wrong spot,particularly a heavy which cause all sorts of problems with signal propagation.I suppose it just comes down to choice at the end of the day for the crew involved.Take it easy

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Thanks Darren. It's always good to get some comemnts from a real ATP!One question- does an autoland require an ILS approach clearance? I would think so since it uses the LOC and GS for guidance?Thanks,Bruce.PS. That's a cool control tower at YSSY, with the winding "stairs".

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