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scandinavian13

The EXEC Button and Perfection

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While I know it may seem like I just sit around the forum a bunch during the weekdays to answer questions and try to keep people in line with the signature rule (a rule that is seeing a rash of non-compliance, so if you're reading this, take note), but I do notice trends as they happen, which is part of how the Support Team identifies issues that we need to look into (see statistical significance).

Sometimes, if the frequency is lower, I resolve to just answer it whenever it pops up. Other times, if it involves more of a visual process, I'll make a video. Some cases, I'll just write some lengthy post here to challenge the mind. Today is just one of those latter ones, but it should be an interesting bit, nonetheless.

 

Coming up with a route can be like trying to paint the latest and greatest work of art, particularly on days like this:

rcm_sm_tops.gif

 

...when you're to the west of that front, and you need to get to the east of it, and around some of that other scud, too.

 

Luckily, with access to real world routes with tools like FlightAware, anyone can benefit from the skill of a real world dispatcher to aid in weather avoidance, or at least mitigation. At the same time, I'm guessing that in a large number of cases, people simply accept the route a VA, or PFPX Find-a-route hands them, despite the weather. Either way, and in line with my last thread about remaining in the loop, you have to remind yourself that there is still someone up front for a reason - computers can't do it all.

 

Sim pilots, not surprisingly, end up sharing a lot of the same personality traits as real pilots, but in many cases, have magnified versions of them. Just have a look around at some of the threads here: you have threads that concentrate on the smallest details of the perfect route, or perfect wind data, or perfect derate, or even the perfect takeoff trim setting. In the real world, though, you're exposed to a lot more of nature's chaos getting in the way of that perfection, and you simply have to accept it and develop and idea of where the line of diminishing returns exists. In the sim, though, it seems most simmers dismiss that chaos as caused by bad predictions, bad weather modeling, or often, the accuracy of the aircraft.

 

I'll admit to sharing the perfection sentiment myself early on, even when I was starting to fly in the real world. I got so caught up in calculating everything perfectly that it would take hours to finish even a VFR flight plan (I'm talking calculating what altitude I'd be at when I knew I'd be in a climb over a waypoint, and how much fuel I would be burning at that point). Better yet was my initial aversion to writing/drawing on my charts to maintain their perfection, despite knowing that I'd be tossing it in the recycling bin in a few more months. Perfection and accuracy, it seems, is a trait that many pilots and sim pilots possess.

 

The problem is, though, that the world is imperfect: the perfect direct point to point route is often not available; weather exists, and changes; wind data is so unpredictable that we still list it on the forecast section, and not under observations; passengers are usually heftier than most airlines', and the FAA's guidance (still at about 170); and safety is greyer than most people want to admit.

 

 

 

When it comes to PMDG aircraft, I think part of it comes with the mystical power of the FMC. A good number of the posts here seem to give it a nod of reverence, where it must be handed the perfect data the first time, and it must not change.

 

 

I think some of it stems from the finality that comes with hitting the EXEC button. It's almost as if you say "okay, here is what I'm giving you, oh Deep Thought - please provide us with your guidance and wisdom for our flight." In order to avoid enraging the deity, changes should be avoided.

 

Except not.

 

An example of this is the HYPER6 arrival into IAD, along with most EU STARs. The HYPER6 is runway dependent - as are most EU STARs - but in the case of the HYPER6, it starts for some of the Atlantic Crossers up to 290 miles away at BAF. Because of that, you have to simply guess, and potentially change it rather late in the game (ZNY hands off between DELRO and LIRCH, where the Potomac controller will assign a runway). That means that there's a good chance of hitting EXEC at least once after the initial route selection. Procedure varies based on the carrier as to what the best method for this is (since you're going to be replacing the STAR part of the routing while you're currently flying it), but various avenues exist, and the edits are necessary: enter it in RTE2, line select the next downline fix and copy over; drop to HDG SEL to follow the intended path before accepting the DEP ARR page edits, until you line select the next fix; or any other methods out there.

 

Approaches are another sticking point. Some, in an effort to have the whole flight planned out, like to have an approach selected even prior to departure. The only time this becomes a sticking point is if you're flying online and the controller selects a different runway, particularly during an event. It's really as simple as going to the DEP ARR page and selecting a different approach, though many seem to be intimidated by the thought of doing that. Luckily, it seems more and more pilots on VATSIM are becoming accustomed both to the STAR changes, and approach changes.

 

Instead of looking at the EXEC key as something of finality, look at it more as a key that simply allows you time to construct your thought and plan before telling the computer to run off and start using it. Remember, as well, that the FMC is a tool to help you do your job, and not something that locks you into anything, or something to blame when things go wrong. If the FMC is coded to behave like the real ones do, then changing something should be just about as easy as setting it up in the first place.

 

If you haven't gotten a lot of experience in stepping outside the box, fly into an airport having an event on VATSIM (provided you're comfortable with the aircraft in general, of course). On Friday, I was the one providing runway assignments, the occasional speed restriction, and even a few vectors for spacing. It will definitely put you in situations to make you step off of that "perfect" solution that you thought you'd developing prior to even pushing off of the gate.

 

Seek out opportunities to see that there is beauty not only in perfection, but also in organized chaos.

...because that's what we do - we add organization, and an odd sort of beauty, to what is otherwise chaotic.

 

11208280_494058957428061_153522505_n.jpg

One Day As A Lion - Meggs

My own interpretation of this being chaotic, yet somehow awesome.

 

I promise you that, after you add order to chaos by switching a routing up to avoid weather mid-route, or late on a STAR, or sidestep and fly an approach visually instead of relying on the approach that you'd already programmed in, you'll finish the flight with a good feeling of accomplishment. EXEC doesn't mean "set in stone" and not following your route doesn't mean the flight was imperfect - it means that you addressed the imperfect environment by applying your skills to the situation at hand.

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Thanks for passing along the knowledge.  I'd personally like to see more of these types of presentations.

 

-Jim

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Sorry Kyle, but I'm a child of the magenta line circle 360!!   :Big Grin:

 

NGX360.jpg

Lmao. LNAV & VNAV it. Just live dangerously, bro. B)

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Well written and very true, Kyle.

 

On vatsim on the weekend I was departing KSFO for KSEA and had my runway changed 3 times before departure (28L, the 1L then 1R), with the ensuing recalculations and setup of the FMC. No biggie, just announce a small departure delay if need be and get on with it. (To be fair it was SFO6 departure so mostly vectors anyhow, but the point remains)

 

I see the EXEC button as my command telling the FMC, "I have new data for you to use, and I am confirming I want you to use it."

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I see the EXEC button as my command telling the FMC, "I have new data for you to use, and I am confirming I want you to use it."

 

That's a good way to put it, actually.

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The answer to The Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything is 42. Everybody knows that now thanks to Adam's HGTTU.

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Hmm, I never thought of it that way...personally I fly most of my approaches manually if the field/airport is in sight even if I'm given vectors. A perfect example would be Frankfurt's runway 25 operations - it is very common that you can get a swingover to runway 25C or 25L while you are approaching 25R, which puts you waaay to high on the slope for 25L/25C since runway 25R is shifted forward a clouple miles (just look at the charts). Most of the time this souldn't be a problem at all unless you're flying a 737NG that doesn't like to lose speed. And this is only one example of many. I don't know about you guys but I also like to watch cockpit DVD's by JustPlanes or PilotsEye and in almost every flight the runway gets changed, often even twice during the approach, weather gets in the way or you have to go-around due to bad visibility. In reality you can't predict every single aspect and step of a flight from A to B, especially long distance flights.

 

I always looked at the FMS as a great resource to aid me during the flight and improve my situational awareness, but at the end of the day it still is a stupid computer that does what you tell it to do, accepting your entries with the press of that nice shiny EXEC button. And this is actually the reason why I love the 737 NG so much - you actually can perfectly fly it from A to B without the FMS. It's harder and creates a higher workloud but it's possible and shows you what the FMS normally does for you automatically. 

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The answer to The Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything is 42. Everybody knows that now thanks to Adam's HGTTU.

Ah, but do people remember what the Ultimate Question was found to be?

 

Being pedantic the title is normally abbreviated as H2G2, like a chemical compound.

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The answer to The Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything is 42. Everybody knows that now thanks to Adam's HGTTU.

Hmmm... I thought it was the HGTTG.

 

Dave

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The letters for minor words "to the" get dropped which leaves you with HHGG. HH being for HitchHiker. That became H2G2, which is less awkward to say than HHGG. H2G2 is also the URL of the website that was created as an online "guide" of interesting, useful and utterly useless facts, www.h2g2.com.

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