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Autoland Aerosoft Airbus in P3D V.3

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Hi,

 

I continue to experience difficulties in attempting to autoland the Aerosoft Airbus. The Aerosoft tutorial flight e-manual is not helpful enough for me in this regard. I am a novice pilot managing all phases of flight reasonably well except for the autoland. The airbus refuses to descend below the managed speed set i.e. 4000 feet.

 

I have been successful on a small number (20%-25%) of occasions performing the autoland but how I achieved this I do not know!

 

More importantly I can't understand why I fail to autoland on Cat3 equipped runways after following these "guidelines". Could it be a question of timing or possibly the order of events during this phase of flight or both?

 

I keep some important notes in front of me when attempting the autoland. These include;

 

1. Check I have filled in the missing data in the MCDU Perf Appr page.....I complete this page during cruise.

2. Descent prep can be started one minute after starting cruise. Generally I start it about 10 minutes prior to top of descent.

3. I key an altitude of around 4000 feet about the same time but do not push the knob at this time.

4. On passing top of descent I activate descent.

5. Approach Checklist becomes available for manual start on MCDU2 marked in orange.

6. After Approach Checklist is finished the Approach phase in the MCDU should be manually activated. 

7. Auto activation of the approach checklist is also possible at the Decel Pseudo waypoint.

8. When Loc Alive call made press Appr button on the FCU ensuring AGL altitude is below 8,000 feet.

 

Too often I don't receive the Loc Alive call or capture and the same applies to the glideslope alive call and capture.

 

I would be very grateful for a response enabling me to achieve a much improved consistency in the autoland so that I can progress to manual landings. 

 

Regards

 

Kevin

 

 

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Please explain what exactly does not work for you.

 

Do you mean the Airbus does not descend when you press APPR on the FCU while you maintain 4000 ft? In that case initiate a descend by dialing a lower altitude in the FCU and pull the knob for open descend. As soon as the Airbus is descending press APPR. The Airbus should then follow the ILS on autopilot. For a complete autoland you have to activate both autopilots.

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Your swift response is appreciated.

 

Whether I select the push or pull option to descend to say 4000 feet the plane invariably flies over the target runway at 4000 feet. Strange thing is I've completed autolands (not many) and cannot understand where the inconsistency(ies) lie. In other words I'm baffled or maybe a little stupid!

 

If I understand you correctly I should pull the knob to initiate descend to say 4000 feet after TOD and if nothing happens on arriving at 4000 feet I need to dial in a lower altitude and press APPR on the FCU. How long do I wait before selecting a lower altitude if the plane maintains its 4000 feet level?

 

Everything I'm currently doing is predicated on my notes as described.

 

When should I activate both autopilots?

 

Many thanks.

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I think the aircraft has to be descending when you press the APPR button for the APPR mode to work; the autopilot won't initiate a descent in APPR mode. So the aircraft will maintain your 4000 ft unless you tell the aircraft to descend.

 

For an autoland you activate the second autopilot after pressing APPR. Otherwise the autopilot will disconnect shortly before touchdown and you have to flare manually.

 

Apart from that, if you are new to the Airbus I suggest you practice manual landings first, before fiddling around with autoland.

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Hello there Kevin,

 

For starters, it sounds to me as though you are trying to establish on the ILS much too far out. 8000ft AGL would typically place you some 25-30NM out on a normal 3 degree descent profile, which is well beyond the promulgated range of any ILS system (you may receive a signal but there is no guarantee that it is protected from interference or usable at that range).

 

Ultimately you need to manage the descent yourself to ensure that you arrive at the final approach fix at the altitude indicated on the chart. Again, 4000ft is pretty high -- more typically I would expect to see something in the region of 2000-3000ft QNH (assuming a typical near sea level airfield) The aircraft may or may not be able to do this in managed descent mode without intervention: it depends entirely upon the vertical profile of the STAR/approach you are attempting to fly and the ambient conditions (most notably wind). Ninety nine times out of a hundred you will have to intervene manually (i.e. using selected modes such as VS or pulling the altitude knob for OP DES) to make the aeroplane go where you want it: this is not a bug, it is just the reality of flying a jet transport!

 

Once you are there, the SOP says once cleared for the approach, press the APPR button and engage the second autopilot. There is normally no need to press LOC first, unless you are establishing beyond the promulgated usable range of the glideslope (about 17NM).

 

There are two things that you must remember with APPR mode:

 

1) GS (glideslope) mode will not engage unless LOC mode is active. This is a safety feature to prevent the autopilot from descending you on the glideslope without being established on the localiser -- the glideslope is only guaranteed to be obstacle/terrain safe within a relatively small margin either side of the localiser.

 

2) GS mode will not engage if you are above the glideslope (i.e. the GS diamond is below centre). You can intercept the glideslope from above, but this is a relatively high-workload procedure that brings with it the risk of a rushed approach, and there are several traps for the unwary, so especially if you are new to the Airbus and flying in general you are much better off ensuring that you establish yourself on final below the glideslope (i.e. with the GS diamond above centre, in level flight, at anything from F speed to about 160 knots with config 2 set. Thus as you continue along the localizer, the diamond will move down as you fly "towards" the glideslope. As the diamond reaches the centre GS mode will activate and you will start descending towards the runway. Select the gear down, arm the ground spoilers and then Flap 3 and Flap Full so that you are stabilised at Vapp in the landing configuration no later than 1000ft AGL.

 

Airbus have a series of "golden rules" that they publish for pilots -- #5 is know your FMA at all times. The FMA is the area on the PFD (Primary Flight Display) immediately above the artificial horizon, and it tells you which modes are engaged and/or active.

 

Take a little time to read up about the FMA and its philosophy -- it is absolutely crucial to flying this aeroplane! The FMA is the law -- it tells you what the aeroplane thinks it is doing, and what it is about to do. Which buttons you press are irrelevant, all that matters is what the FMA says!

 

In brief -- FMA armed modes (i.e. not currently active, but will become active once the criteria for their activation are met) are displayed in blue and magenta. Active modes (i.e. what the aeroplane is doing right now) are displayed in green and white.

 

Likewise, selected targets (i.e. things that you have put in the FCU) are displayed on the PFD in blue. Managed targets (computed by the FMGC) appear in magenta. 

 

Watch out for ALT magenta! This is telling you that there is a constraint in the FMGC between where you are now and the altitude that you have put in the FCU, and when you reach it the aircraft will level off (analogous to Boeing's VNAV ALT). Sometimes you might want this behaviour, of course, but sometimes you might not -- just be aware of what it means.

 

There is, obviously, much more to it than that, but hopefully this will have got you started.

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I think the aircraft has to be descending when you press the APPR button for the APPR mode to work; the autopilot won't initiate a descent in APPR mode. So the aircraft will maintain your 4000 ft unless you tell the aircraft to descend.

 

For an autoland you activate the second autopilot after pressing APPR. Otherwise the autopilot will disconnect shortly before touchdown and you have to flare manually.

 

Apart from that, if you are new to the Airbus I suggest you practice manual landings first, before fiddling around with autoland.

Thank you for your response.

 

I will give it due consideration when I have a chance to sim tomorrow.

 

I would have thought autoland the best place to learn and observe how it worked before taking on manual landings.

 

Regards.

Hello there Kevin,

 

For starters, it sounds to me as though you are trying to establish on the ILS much too far out. 8000ft AGL would typically place you some 25-30NM out on a normal 3 degree descent profile, which is well beyond the promulgated range of any ILS system (you may receive a signal but there is no guarantee that it is protected from interference or usable at that range).

 

Ultimately you need to manage the descent yourself to ensure that you arrive at the final approach fix at the altitude indicated on the chart. Again, 4000ft is pretty high -- more typically I would expect to see something in the region of 2000-3000ft QNH (assuming a typical near sea level airfield) The aircraft may or may not be able to do this in managed descent mode without intervention: it depends entirely upon the vertical profile of the STAR/approach you are attempting to fly and the ambient conditions (most notably wind). Ninety nine times out of a hundred you will have to intervene manually (i.e. using selected modes such as VS or pulling the altitude knob for OP DES) to make the aeroplane go where you want it: this is not a bug, it is just the reality of flying a jet transport!

 

Once you are there, the SOP says once cleared for the approach, press the APPR button and engage the second autopilot. There is normally no need to press LOC first, unless you are establishing beyond the promulgated usable range of the glideslope (about 17NM).

 

There are two things that you must remember with APPR mode:

 

1) GS (glideslope) mode will not engage unless LOC mode is active. This is a safety feature to prevent the autopilot from descending you on the glideslope without being established on the localiser -- the glideslope is only guaranteed to be obstacle/terrain safe within a relatively small margin either side of the localiser.

 

2) GS mode will not engage if you are above the glideslope (i.e. the GS diamond is below centre). You can intercept the glideslope from above, but this is a relatively high-workload procedure that brings with it the risk of a rushed approach, and there are several traps for the unwary, so especially if you are new to the Airbus and flying in general you are much better off ensuring that you establish yourself on final below the glideslope (i.e. with the GS diamond above centre, in level flight, at anything from F speed to about 160 knots with config 2 set. Thus as you continue along the localizer, the diamond will move down as you fly "towards" the glideslope. As the diamond reaches the centre GS mode will activate and you will start descending towards the runway. Select the gear down, arm the ground spoilers and then Flap 3 and Flap Full so that you are stabilised at Vapp in the landing configuration no later than 1000ft AGL.

 

Airbus have a series of "golden rules" that they publish for pilots -- #5 is know your FMA at all times. The FMA is the area on the PFD (Primary Flight Display) immediately above the artificial horizon, and it tells you which modes are engaged and/or active.

 

Take a little time to read up about the FMA and its philosophy -- it is absolutely crucial to flying this aeroplane! The FMA is the law -- it tells you what the aeroplane thinks it is doing, and what it is about to do. Which buttons you press are irrelevant, all that matters is what the FMA says!

 

In brief -- FMA armed modes (i.e. not currently active, but will become active once the criteria for their activation are met) are displayed in blue and magenta. Active modes (i.e. what the aeroplane is doing right now) are displayed in green and white.

 

Likewise, selected targets (i.e. things that you have put in the FCU) are displayed on the PFD in blue. Managed targets (computed by the FMGC) appear in magenta. 

 

Watch out for ALT magenta! This is telling you that there is a constraint in the FMGC between where you are now and the altitude that you have put in the FCU, and when you reach it the aircraft will level off (analogous to Boeing's VNAV ALT). Sometimes you might want this behaviour, of course, but sometimes you might not -- just be aware of what it means.

 

There is, obviously, much more to it than that, but hopefully this will have got you started.

Thank you for your response.

 

A great deal more to this aspect of flight than I expected. 

 

You have provided a good deal of information which I will process over the next few days. Being retired now with time on hand to enjoy this wonderful hobby and keep the old grey matter active is a bonus.

 

I have tried 33 autolands with a success rate of just 6 completions. Why 27 failed and 6 worked I have no idea. It is frustrating not to know what I'm doing right or wrong with the autoland procedures. I am certain my problems start after the Approach Checklist completes.

 

I will take onboard all your comments and see how I get on.

 

Regards

 

Kevin

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I have tried 33 autolands with a success rate of just 6 completions. Why 27 failed and 6 worked I have no idea. It is frustrating not to know what I'm doing right or wrong with the autoland procedures. I am certain my problems start after the Approach Checklist completes.

 

 

 

Just to make sure:

 

You have programmed an ILS approach on the FPLAN page of the MCDU. The appropriate ILS frequency is set on the RADNAV page of the MCDU. LS is on.

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Just to make sure:

 

You have programmed an ILS approach on the FPLAN page of the MCDU. The appropriate ILS frequency is set on the RADNAV page of the MCDU. LS is on.

Roger that.

 

Thank You.

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Kevin's information is really, really good.  There are some good basic tutorials on how to intercept and fly an ILS in the A320. 

 

This video shows how to intercept the ILS only.  He has a LOT of good A320 videos covering all sorts of procedures

 

 

This is the full ILS CAT III down to landing.

 

 

As Kevin said, you shouldn't plan to intercept the ILS too far out.  Typical is anywhere from a couple of miles outside of the final approach fix (FAF) out to, say, 12 miles.  There are many more tutorials.  Go to youtube and search for "a320 how to fly an ils".  Good luck and have fun!

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3. I key an altitude of around 4000 feet about the same time but do not push the knob at this time.

4. On passing top of descent I activate descent.

 

 

You may push the ALT knob about 5 miles from the descent point using the managed auto flight technique. This will (should, if they have programmed the feature in...good test!) cause the FMGC to establish a 1000 fpm descent rate until it intercepts the calculated descent profile, as indicated on the PFD altitude tape by the "VNAV descent profile indicator" donut.

 

If you elect to manually control the descent (Pull ALT knob) what happens then is that all the automated descent indications and crossing altitude and airspeed controls are eliminated!

 

Select ILS when the ILS indicator appears on the PFD. This causes the descent profile indicator to be removed and the glide slope and localiser indices to be displayed. Then select LOC. When inside 10 miles from the airport, select APPR PHASE and the select CONFIRM APPR. This makes the  airspeed symbol on the PFD slew to the GREEN DOT. Finally when the localiser starts to move, select APPR on the FCU.

 

After that, if below 8000' select second autopilot, this arms the auto land mode. When glide slope is one dot from the horizon, select gear and landing flap. At 400' the auto land will engage. At RETARD you must select MANUALLY the thrust levers to the REVERSE GATE and on touch down select REVERSE.

 

I don't have the FSL Bus simulator on P3dv3.4. But if they coded her correctly these should work! At least they always did!   :wink:  Again like I said, good test!

 

 

Regards

 

David

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Kevin's information is really, really good.  There are some good basic tutorials on how to intercept and fly an ILS in the A320. 

 

This video shows how to intercept the ILS only.  He has a LOT of good A320 videos covering all sorts of procedures

 

 

This is the full ILS CAT III down to landing.

 

 

As Kevin said, you shouldn't plan to intercept the ILS too far out.  Typical is anywhere from a couple of miles outside of the final approach fix (FAF) out to, say, 12 miles.  There are many more tutorials.  Go to youtube and search for "a320 how to fly an ils".  Good luck and have fun!

Many thanks for your advice and videos.

 

I will use all the information supplied and see if I can get the airbus on the runway with confidence.

 

Avsim community is undoubtedly a great resource. Very grateful four your interest in my problem. Regards

 

 

You may push the ALT knob about 5 miles from the descent point using the managed auto flight technique. This will (should, if they have programmed the feature in...good test!) cause the FMGC to establish a 1000 fpm descent rate until it intercepts the calculated descent profile, as indicated on the PFD altitude tape by the "VNAV descent profile indicator" donut.

 

If you elect to manually control the descent (Pull ALT knob) what happens then is that all the automated descent indications and crossing altitude and airspeed controls are eliminated!

 

Select ILS when the ILS indicator appears on the PFD. This causes the descent profile indicator to be removed and the glide slope and localiser indices to be displayed. Then select LOC. When inside 10 miles from the airport, select APPR PHASE and the select CONFIRM APPR. This makes the  airspeed symbol on the PFD slew to the GREEN DOT. Finally when the localiser starts to move, select APPR on the FCU.

 

After that, if below 8000' select second autopilot, this arms the auto land mode. When glide slope is one dot from the horizon, select gear and landing flap. At 400' the auto land will engage. At RETARD you must select MANUALLY the thrust levers to the REVERSE GATE and on touch down select REVERSE.

 

I don't have the FSL Bus simulator on P3dv3.4. But if they coded her correctly these should work! At least they always did!   :wink:  Again like I said, good test!

 

 

Regards

 

David

Cheers David.

 

I will gladly take your advice and hopefully I'll be able to at least automatically generate silky smooth landings...... :smile:

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My problem is with the copilot. I lose him half the time after reaching set altitude. If he does not put his tray out after reaching set altitude I know he is gone for the rest of the flight. This is with a saved situation with mcdu route saved and is the exact same flight each time except for losing the copilot half of those times. 

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My main tip: never use the LOC button. It is not needed and I seem to remember that it makes things behave odd sometimes. I simply let the plane do its thing and when it finally turns into the direction of the runway, I press APPR, making sure I am below the GS indicator.

 

And btw I don't need to be actually descending in order to intercept the GS, like was suggested above. I've done LOTS of autolands without any problems. (Unless I came in too high and other obvious pilot's errors.)

 

Another tip: I usually descend all the way in manual mode (pulling the ALT knob instead of pushing it for managed mode). Two reasons: 1. when you push it and need to use the speed brake you often get a warning the speed brake is being used. This is a bug. And 2. the plane descends faster in manual mode. Using managed mode I often came in too high and had to use the speed brake a LOT (with that annoying warning). 

When you descend, take a look at the PFD and at the indicator which shows when you will reach your set altitude: when you pull and push the alt button you will see that indicator change position. This often can make a difference between a failed or stressful approach and an easy approach.

 

Remember: you are the pilot and you do not HAVE to use the managed modes if doing it manually is better or more convenient.  :wink:

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My main tip: never use the LOC button. It is not needed and I seem to remember that it makes things behave odd sometimes. I simply let the plane do its thing and when it finally turns into the direction of the runway, I press APPR, making sure I am below the GS indicator.

 

And btw I don't need to be actually descending in order to intercept the GS, like was suggested above. I've done LOTS of autolands without any problems. (Unless I came in too high and other obvious pilot's errors.)

 

Another tip: I usually descend all the way in manual mode (pulling the ALT knob instead of pushing it for managed mode). Two reasons: 1. when you push it and need to use the speed brake you often get a warning the speed brake is being used. This is a bug. And 2. the plane descends faster in manual mode. Using managed mode I often came in too high and had to use the speed brake a LOT (with that annoying warning). 

When you descend, take a look at the pdf and at the indicator which shows when you will reach your set altitude: when you pull and push the alt button you will see that indicator change position. This often can make a difference between a failed or stressful approach and an easy approach.

 

Remember: you are the pilot and you do not HAVE to use the managed modes if doing it manually is better or more convenient.  :wink:

Thanks for the info.

 

I will implement as you suggested and be very happy when it works.  

 

One thing for sure all the responses i have received prove this autoland stuff is not "black and white" stuff. I expected to observe how the autoland worked so that I could progress to manual landings. Ah well I'm so grateful for all the feedback I have received. Patience and practice is the name of the game!

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My main tip: never use the LOC button. It is not needed and I seem to remember that it makes things behave odd sometimes. I simply let the plane do its thing and when it finally turns into the direction of the runway, I press APPR, making sure I am below the GS indicator.

 

True.  I haven't seen anyone mention the LS button which is, obviously, very helpful since it shows where you are in relation to the LOC and GS before you begin the approach.  Definitely should turn than on while monitoring the FMA.  Question: will the aircraft begin GS descent while the FMA indicates LOC* or must it say LOC without the * before it will descend?

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