Gary McCluskey

I'm confused about Aircraft Control

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This video is really getting to me because the person recording it is saying that the aircraft should be "pretty much" always flown IFR. I was on the understanding that at least 1 in 3 landings on at A320 should be done manually - so does that mean that is not the case?

I crashed in LIRQ (Florence) - but I didn't know it was such a difficult airport.

Should we only use IFR if we have aircraft such as the A320??

Gaz

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4 minutes ago, Gary McCluskey said:

This video is really getting to me because the person recording it is saying that the aircraft should be "pretty much" always flown IFR. I was on the understanding that at least 1 in 3 landings on at A320 should be done manually - so does that mean that is not the case?

I crashed in LIRQ (Florence) - but I didn't know it was such a difficult airport.

Should we only use IFR if we have aircraft such as the A320??

Gaz

Airliners fly in heavy congested airspace, bad weather, high altitude, high speeds, and at night.  Also just because you are IFR doesn’t mean you can not perform manual landings.

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I think the confusion here is in the meaning of "IFR".  A flight which is flown "IFR" simply means it is flown under a certain set of rules known as Instrument Flight Rules.  Those rules say nothing about how an aircraft is handled (an IFR flight may be completely hand-flown) or what type of approach is flown.  Typically, in good weather, for example, a completely IFR flight terminates in a "Visual Approach".  But it will still be IFR, unless the pilot chooses to cancel when he/she has the field in sight.

Scott

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1 hour ago, mpw8679 said:

Airliners fly in heavy congested airspace, bad weather, high altitude, high speeds, and at night.  Also just because you are IFR doesn’t mean you can not perform manual landings.

Air Carriers (airliners) in the U.S. mostly operate under FAR (Federal Aviation Regulations) Part 121. The Operations Specifications within 121 usually require IFR regardless of weather. 

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Thanks everyone. I'm getting the impression that it's a case of the pilot deciding what to do when close to the airport. Given that the weather was terrible (could hardly see the runway) and I'm not that used to VFR landings (I suppose I should be used to them first), I should not have been there!

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36 minutes ago, Gary McCluskey said:

Thanks everyone. I'm getting the impression that it's a case of the pilot deciding what to do when close to the airport. Given that the weather was terrible (could hardly see the runway) and I'm not that used to VFR landings (I suppose I should be used to them first), I should not have been there!

As somebody else pointed out, VFR and IFR has nothing to do with whether you’re doing a manual or instrument landing. VFR and IFR relates to a set of rules that applies to your flight in general, not to how you fly the plane. As was said, an IFR flight can be entirely hand flown,  and a VFR flight can be flown entirely on autopilot. Likewise, whether you are doing an automated or handflown (manual) landing has nothing to do with whether your flight was an IFR or VFR flight. So a landing can’t be a ‘VFR landing’. That’s sort of saying that you are painting on a canvas with loud music (I.e. the one has little to do with the other). I’m can do a visual approach, meaning you’re not following a published procedure. But again, this has nothing to do with whether you did a VFR or IFR flight.

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As others have said:

IFR = Instrument Flight Rules

VFR = Visual Flight Rules.

IMC = Instrument Meterological Conditions

VMC = Visual Meterological Conditions.

Flying under VFR means, broadly, that you as the pilot are responsible for collision avoidance by means of looking out the window to see and avoid other aircraft. To facilitate this it stands to reason that the visibility needs to be sufficient to make this practical and so the VFR weather limits (which will vary depending on where you are in the world but broadly are around 5000m visibility and no entry in to cloud at all) are set to facilitate that. If the weather is within these minimums this is known as Visual Meteorological Conditions (VMC).

Of course, if we could only ever fly when the weather was this good then we wouldn't get very far, so there needed to be a way to facilitate this and this is known as Instrument Flight Rules (IFR). This allows flight in to Instrument Meteorological Conditions (IMC) which is basically any time the weather is below VMC minimums.

You can fly IFR in VMC but you cannot fly VFR in to IMC.

Flying under Instrument Flight Rules has a much more stringent set of requirements and procedures because it is predicated upon the concept that after taking off you could conceivably be in cloud all the way until breaking out at the decision height on approach. In essence:

  • A full set of flight instruments
  • Serviceable radio navigation and communications equipment (VOR/ADF/COM/Transponder etc)
  • An Instrument Rating qualification

You also need to have filed an IFR flight plan with Air Traffic Control and obtained an IFR clearance. This is because obviously without any means of seeing outside you are reliant on Air Traffic Control to separate you from other aircraft.

Legally amongst other things you will also need to adhere to any published minimum safe altitudes throughout your flight. There are also stricter requirements around fuel planning, selection of alternate airports and the weather forecast at those alternates (and indeed your destination) at the time you are expecting to arrive and so on.

The advantage of flying IFR is that you are allowed in to controlled airspace and you have ATC separating you from other aircraft, plus the more stringent requirements around alternates and minimum heights etc should mean there is no chance of you bumping in to any terrain etc. For this reason most airlines' insurers would require commercial operations to take place under IFR!

Note that none of the above has any bearing on whether the aircraft is flown manually or through the automatics. You can fly an aircraft VFR with the autopilot in or you can hand-fly under IFR (and indeed the training for the instrument rating is predicated on being able to hand-fly by sole reference to the instruments with no outside visual reference). You can fly a visual approach on an IFR flight plan and clearance if you so desire (and the visibility is sufficient to permit this).

Regarding your approach in to Florence, you should normally fly an Instrument Approach of some description which is designed to bring you from the en-route environment to a position where you can see the runway sufficiently in order to land manually. Provided you comply with all the minimum heights published on the chart and conform accurately to the lateral track you should not hit anything!

However, flying any instrument procedure requires thorough preparation and you should take time to familiarise yourself with the procedure and think through how you are going to fly it at a quiet moment well before you start your descent even. As I like to say - you should be a world expert on the procedure well before you actually get to the initial approach fix!

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Posted (edited)

There is also IMC and VMC to consider (Instrument and visual meteorological conditions)  You can fly IFR in VMC, but you cannot fly VFR in IMC, even in a cessna.  predominant in the rules for VFR is that you cannot be anywhere near a cloud, and if you couldn't see the runway, you were definitely in IMC.  Also, If you couldn't see the runway at minimums, you shouldn't have landed there at all, under any flight rules, and should have diverted, or held until conditions improved.

 

edit:  skelsey answered as I was typing.

Edited by ShawnG

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Posted (edited)

Also to add, you really should not be doing autolands. I heard recently that Ryanair ask their pilots to do 3 Auto lands within 6 months and I heard they normally do all 3 within the last few weeks just to get them in. 

You should be all set and ready and turning off AP at 1000ft, from where you land it. Just forget about auto landings. CATIII etc. Just learn to land it like 98% of the time they are landed in real life....by hand.

If you having trouble doing so, do circuits and do touch and goes. In a nutshell, wait for the 30ft call out just after that flare and at 20ft call out cut the throttle. It's that simple. Above all else always land in the touchdown area. If you want to land nicely 150 vs is a good target. try not to go over 220. But above that land were your should or its a go around.

How the AS320 handles landing flight characteristics I have no idea. It could well be different to the FSL.

Edited by Nyxx

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did someone mention that using class A airspace requires IFR procedures ...

.... that for any landing, the paxs enjoy manual !!

autolands are xwind limited anyway.

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Posted (edited)

With regard to your difficulties landing at Florence in an Airbus, this is not surprising. Airbus offers a special modification kit for the A320 family specifically for airports such as Florence and it is in fact called the 'Florence Kit'. It is similar in many ways to the steep approach modification available on the A318 which allows it to fly in and out of London City airport with its 5.5 degree FPA glideslope. Essentially it automates the deployment of the spoilers to 30 degrees to act as speedbrakes on the descent, then the radar altimeter triggers their retraction to 8 degrees when at 85 feet AGL. All spoilers then deploy upon touchdown and the ailerons (on some, not all) tilt upwards to also act as lift dump devices and alleviate the chance of a wing picking up or dropping with a gust.

As others have pointed out, all airliner flights are IFR, one of the reasons for this is so that they can be tracked in order to allow the arrival airport to know what time scheduled flights will arrive and what is on board them. This info is transmitted from a number of sources, including (for us in the UK) Eurocontrol and NATS, and this info is linked to our Chroma Fusion system. Here is a pic of its display screen in our Ops office from last night:

5jO3hVU.jpg

In case you're curious, this thing updates every five mins or so automatically, with info such as current expected arrival time, provisionally allocated stand, confirmed stand etc. When a flight goes on finals, its info line is highlighted in yellow to alert us that it's on approach. The yellow bit at the top of the screen which is reporting that the Airbridge on Stand 44L is unserviceable so steps will be required, loops through various alerts and information pertinent to current operations. At the time I took this pic (about 1.30am today) it was showing that EGCC was single runway ops on 05L and that frost was likely to build up on parked aircraft (i.e. cold soaking) necessitating the possible requirement for de-icing, which did subsequently occur on one of our TC A321s on stand 32, I know, because I was out there shifting trucks out of the way for the deicer truck to get there, and it was bloody cold!

Other stuff  you can see on this screenshot are (in the right hand columns of each line) things such as ASU REQ - this means the aircraft will require an Air Start Unit, since its APU is probably unservicable, and that might mean an APU shutdown arrival, which would require the Fixed Electrical Power (or Ground Power Unit) to be connected to the aircraft when it taxies on stand with the engine(s) still running, in which case this is done before it gets chocks on the mains since you can't go near the engines when they are running. AVI/CARGO means there is some kind of live animal on board (probably in the forward hold), so a suitable trailer for it will be required on stand. COMAIL means there is company mail on the cargo manifest. There are tons of these codes for things such as wheelchairs on board, firearms on board, hazardous good etc, etc, since all these things require specific handling.

If you look at the top two flights on this screenshot (BJL and DLM), these are inbound to Manchester from Banjul (Gambia) and Dalaman (Turkey). You can see that the Dalaman flight is very light for an A321, with only 30-odd passengers on board and just 26 passenger bags, below it, the Banjul flight (also an A321) is quite heavy, with 215 pax and 225 bags on board (and these bags themselves are often very heavy on that flight, almost all of them are well over 26 kilogrammes each, often a lot more than that, so it almost always ends up getting its luggage scanned by the border force, because people often bring in foodstuffs in cans which are not permitted to be imported). As you can probably imagine, a large suitcase full of tinned food weighs a lot, so it's not fun chucking those bags all the way down the hold from right near the bulkhead against the wing all the way to the cargo door. This is why people who work on the ramp do not need a gym membership lol.

We use this information to determine what GSE (ground service equipment) to set up on the stand in readiness for the arrival. Since we know that the large curtain trailers can hold about 50 bags and the slightly smaller ones can hold about 40 bags, the light flight only had one baggage tractor with one trailer and one belt loader placed on stand 26 to await it, whereas the heavy flight had two baggage tractors, each with three curtain trailers attached, plus two belt loaders, one for the front and one for the rear hold so it could be offloaded front and rear simultaneously, these being placed on stand 25 in readiness for it. The other things you put on the stand in readiness, are six chocks (two for the left/right mains, two for the nose) and five cones (one for each engine intake, one for each wingtip and one for the tail).

Edited by Chock
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6 hours ago, Chock said:

.....six chocks....

I thought there was only one of you, Al! :happy:

An interesting read, thank you!

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