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Who *really* uses the Autoland?

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For me it depends on the aircraft, I might use the AP more if I am a single pilot flying a plane meant to be flown by 2.  Even then I only use autoland If I am really tired, or weather requires it.  For smaller GA planes, I typically only use the AP when in cruise on long cross country trip to give my arm a break.

 

I agree with Devin's uncle that too much automation erodes basic instincts and skills.   The human ability to concentrate on something is like a muscle, if you don't exercise it, it will become weak.  For example flying navigation without a moving map, or with VOR to VOR requires a higher level of concentration.  This is very good exercise for your brain.  With a strong 'brain' you can handle higher stress situations more easily too.  

 

If you turn on the AP, moving map, GPS...etc...you can just plunk the thing on and forget about it for a while, you might as well surf the net or go make a sandwich.   The automation is handy to reduce workload in high stress situations, but should be used less in low stress situations.  

 

Cheers

TJ

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Using autoland creates extra workload for the airport where holding/taxiing aircraft have to be kept further from the runway, so it is not something that a pilot can ask for or be granted on a whim.

 

You are getting confused with the airport's Low Visibility Procedures. A pilot can carry out an autoland whenever  he wishes.

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I read in another thread a comment from someone claiming to be a RW pilot that many airline's pilot operations manuals actually discourage hand flying and require their pilots to use automation whenever possible. I think this was brought up in the Asiana T7 accident discussion.

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I've read through all the posts so far (some are clearly more useful than others ;)) . Thanks for the interesting discussion everyone!

 

I saw a brilliant KLM web 'docu' recently where the pilots perform an autoland but follow it up with (paraphrasing) "We did an autoland for demonstration purposes, obviously a manual landing is preferred."

 

here's the video - http://www.jetstreamtv.net/london-calling-737ng-to-lhr/5/ the whole series is definitely worth a watch!

 

No doubt this is airline specific though.


Neil Andrews.

Fight or Flight - YouTube | Twitter

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A pilot can carry out an autoland whenever  he wishes.

 

Yes and no -- most operators will have restrictions in place that require LVPs to be in place (and for the runway in question to be on the airline's approved list of runways for autolands).

 

You cannot carry out a CATII/III autoland in poor weather conditions unless the airfield is in LVPs, the ILS is safeguarded and the appropriate backup power supplies etc are in place. These things are not automatically available and require time and effort on the airfield's part and a loss of capacity (for instance, greater spacing must be applied between aircraft on final to prevent beam distortion issues).

 

Practice autolands in CATI conditions may be carried out for pilot or aircraft currency, but again only on approved runways under certain conditions and the crew must always be prepared to take over manually because the ILS critical areas will not be safeguarded and beam distortion may occur.

 

As for the main topic; most enlightened operators will encourage hand-flying where appropriate, and most pilots (in my experience) enjoy taking the opportunity to do so. However, there are questions about where this is appropriate, and the answers come down to airmanship. 

 

The automation is a tool to be used to reduce workload and increase the efficiency of the flight. Hand-flying is all well and good but there is a time and a place: any time you are hand-flying, you are loading up your mate with additional tasks (the PM will be handling the MCP and FMS in addition to monitoring your flying and carrying out all his/her other PNF duties). In marginal weather in a busy terminal area, taking up all this extra capacity is not necessarily good airmanship. Likewise, modern airspace infrastructure has been designed with automation in mind: RNAV SIDs, RNP procedures, RVSM etc.

 

Having said that, it is important that pilots do have the confidence and ability to hand-fly the aircraft in a range of different conditions, and use the automation as a tool rather than being controlled by the automation.

 

The point at which the autopilot goes in and comes out is largely down to personal preference (and SOP to a certain extent). Certainly in my experience manual landings are by far the norm and the autopilot will come out anywhere between 200ft and FL100 or even above. Again, it's about personal preference and airmanship: there's a great article about it here: https://mmsba.wordpress.com/2013/09/03/the-automation-paradox-making-training-relevant/

 

As far as the sim is concerned, I like to hand-fly where appropriate. If it's busy on departure, complex SID, lots of frequency changes etc: I'll probably stick the autopilot in quite early. After all, I'm one man doing the job of two! On approach, again, if it's relaxed and straightforward I'll often take the automatics out relatively early: if it's busier I'll probably wait until we're established on the ILS and more or less configured, but I like to be flying manually by no later than 1000R if possible (and the runway is in sight) as it gives me a bit more time to get a feel for the aircraft.

 

On a visual or an approach with lots of manoeuvring involved, I'll judge it based on the situation: often I find the easiest thing to do is to lose the automatics and make at least the turn to final manually, as I can judge the turn better that way.

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I use to hand fly the NGX at all times except cruise. But since I now do all of my flying on Vatsim I find it difficult to hand fly, keep a solid altitude and heading, and change the radio. I still always hand fly the landing. Rarely does ASN require an Autoland. Does anyone know of a pop up for the radio panel in the NGX?

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CrewF16, the pedestal is shift 2 or 3 I think. Looks like FS2Crew or MCE might be a good investment for you, so that things like radios can be handled by a virtual copilot, while you fly the plane.

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For me, it really depends on how I am feeling!

 

Sometimes if I am tired and landing in the small hours of the morning, I might let the aircraft land automatically. Although, I do try as often as possible to at least hand fly the final approach and landing. 

 

It really does depend! It is interesting to see what other simmers like to do.

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I read in another thread a comment from someone claiming to be a RW pilot that many airline's pilot operations manuals actually discourage hand flying and require their pilots to use automation whenever possible. I think this was brought up in the Asiana T7 accident discussion.

I know one for sure is a green airline out of Hong Kong.

 

My manual says to use the automation whenever possible especially on the RNAV sids/stars.  They stop short of requiring it.  The reason behind that if the autopilot breaks it would render the aircraft un-dispatchable.

 

As far as the autoland.  The plane requires one every 90 days otherwise it drops to CAT I status.  The company would like us to prevent that from happening.  So they ask us to do a competency check.

 

Autolanding requires certain things:  Less headwind/crosswind than the human can land in. 

 

If the ceiling is higher than 800' the tower won't protect the ILS critical area.  Why that matters -is that when a 747 taxis off, it can cause your localizer to peg full scale if you are close in.

 

The runway must be at least CAT II/III.  You just can't go to any airport and hit "AUTOLAND".

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 Well my primary aircraft these days are a DC-9 and a PA-28, so my autolands are fairly rare! In general I try to keep it realistic when it comes to autopilot usage. DC-9 sees extensive use, the Cherokee relatively little. I tend to seek out published visual approaches on airliner flights, which forces me to avoid autolands even when I do fly an appropriately equipped aircraft ... 


Daniel Miller

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As far as the autoland.  The plane requires one every 90 days otherwise it drops to CAT I status.  The company would like us to prevent that from happening.  So they ask us to do a competency check.
 
Autolanding requires certain things:  Less headwind/crosswind than the human can land in. 
 
If the ceiling is higher than 800' the tower won't protect the ILS critical area.  Why that matters -is that when a 747 taxis off, it can cause your localizer to peg full scale if you are close in.
 
The runway must be at least CAT II/III.  You just can't go to any airport and hit "AUTOLAND".

 

Info like this is pure gold and one of the reasons why I love AVSIM, Thanks! I'm assuming you're a RW Pilot?


Neil Andrews.

Fight or Flight - YouTube | Twitter

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RW  pilots know too much.  They ahead of even our most advanced simmers...by a long shot... :excl:

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I have a friend that's a pilot for a US airline. We don't get to talk as often as I'd like, he flies internationally a lot. Whenever we talk I always have a list of questions raised in these type of forums. Hmm... maybe that's why he doesn't call more often.

 

Anyway, just the other night I asked him about this. They have to practice autoland, but seldom use it for real. He told me he normally kicks off the autopilot around the time they turn onto the base leg. One thing I hadn't thought about - he told me that hand flying the whole approach increases the PNF's workload. So, if you want to keep your copilot happy you don't make him work harder than necessary.

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Unless you have a addon copilot, you may be flying a 2 pilot jet by yourself. I would bet a lot of pilots would take advantage of autoland if their copilot was incapacitated. It may even be negligent not to if it was available in that situation. ;)

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