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threegreen

What did I just watch?

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Posted (edited)

Yup, I suspect it was the aforementioned 'intel' on the chart which prompted the decision, plus the inclination of the pilot, who as noted is a bit of a colourful character; a very experienced pilot but one whose actions over the years have led to more than a little controversy, including a spot of jail time in Africa.

As noted, the lower you can go, the less exposure you have to small arms fire, triple A, and mobile/portable SAMs. In fact, some SAMs cannot even fire at all if they are pivoted below a certain declination, typically anything below around 7 degrees elevation for a Strela is outside its launch envelope. This is a combination of radar/heat signature ground clutter affecting tracking and the missiles themselves experiencing ballistic drop before they accelerate to flying speed. That inability of SAMs to engage at low altitude was famously a major problem in the Falklands Conflict, where the Rapier defence missile batteries of the British forces were somewhat unwisely placed on surrounding hills, which resulted in the Argentinian strike aircraft coming in low over the water and therefore never going into the launch envelope regime of the British missile defences. You can see this on footage of attacks in that conflict, with Super Etendards of the Argentinian Navy passing low over the British fleet moored in San Carlos Water with virtual impunity. At the time, the British claims for the Rapier system were that it had achieved 14 kills, but post-conflict analysis reveals that Rapier in fact only had 1 confirmed 'kill', this being an ex-IAF Nesher (basically an upgraded copy of the Dassault Mirage V), of FAA Grupo 6. Other kill 'probables' occasionally attributed to Rapier could not absolutely be determined to have not been achieved by fire from various other defences, including small arms fire. The majority of other missile 'kills' in the conflict were typically with Sidewinder AAMs from Harriers.

Thus any pilot with a bit of military experience (official or otherwise, and you can be sure pretty much any pilot who has flown in African conflict zones will have some of that) would be well aware of the benefits of staying low where shooting was a definite possibility. In some parts of Africa, you can buy an AK-47 (or variant thereof) for about 200 Dollars less than the world average price for one of them and occasionally for less than 50 Dollars, so the possibility of being shot at in these places, is far from being a rare one.

As the wry observation in the Vietnam war went among strike pilots, the risk was from 'every peasant with a rifle who might get lucky' and not simply the known defence sites which their intelligence could warn them of, so it would often pay to assume that you were always under threat, because there was a good chance you would be. In those circumstances, I take a low loop around on finals over passing above a known threat zone any day of the week if I was confident in my ability to fly the aircraft well.

 

Edited by Chock

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On 3/23/2020 at 8:47 PM, vgbaron said:

Agreed! I was about to say that the pilot handled the a/c by actually flying it not twisting knobs. I suspect that for many airline pilots, this would be a dangerous maneuver. He basically did a 360 level turn around a point and came back where he started nicely.

Vic

 

It's amazing how this "Airbus pilots just twist knobs" thing still persists. They are just as proficient at hand flying. Hand flying an approach, which the do most of the time, is autopilot off and auto thrust off. 

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Posted (edited)
5 hours ago, martin-w said:

 

It's amazing how this "Airbus pilots just twist knobs" thing still persists. They are just as proficient at hand flying. Hand flying an approach, which the do most of the time, is autopilot off and auto thrust off. 

Disagree. It is a well known fact that the manual flying skills of pilots operating aircraft, with sophisticated integrated avionic/autopilot systems, decrease over time. This is most apparent when observing manual flying exercises during simulator sessions. The maintenance of manual flying skills is quite difficult under most airline Standard operating procedures (SOPs).

Edited by cowpatz

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Took a bit of digging, but I now know about the pilot flying. No one has mentioned his name here, so I'll continue in the same vein. He knows how to fly rather than systems manage.. :cool:

The music was added in an edit... I doubt the 727 has an 8 track, much less a cassette or CD player in the cockpit.. :wink:

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2 hours ago, HighBypass said:

Took a bit of digging, but I now know about the pilot flying. No one has mentioned his name here, so I'll continue in the same vein. 

Kenny Rogers ?

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Don't get me triggered... Oh, sorry that'd be Roy Rogers.. :tongue:


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17 hours ago, cowpatz said:

Disagree. It is a well known fact that the manual flying skills of pilots operating aircraft, with sophisticated integrated avionic/autopilot systems, decrease over time. This is most apparent when observing manual flying exercises during simulator sessions. The maintenance of manual flying skills is quite difficult under most airline Standard operating procedures (SOPs).

 

In general terms yes. But in regard to this particular manovere in the video posted. I have no doubt that a modern airline pilot could fly such a manoever proficiently. 

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2 hours ago, martin-w said:

I have no doubt that a modern airline pilot could fly such a manoever proficiently. 

I would generally feel the same way, but there have been several accidents in the last 10 years or so that came down to a lack of manual flying skills leading to actions that any pilot should know to avoid and most likely as a result of having the automation do the job for the vast part. You even have airline SOPs that specifically favor automation over manual flying for economic and safety reasons, though said safety measures may come back biting you in your rear end when manual flying skills degrade and can't be reliably called upon when needed.

I remember reading a post of a fellow avsim user some time back who said he's seeing a concerning trend among new F/O's that he trains and line checks, which is that a lot of them get visibly uncomfortable and nervous when they have to take matters into their own hands and fly fully manually in more demanding scenarios. This is a concern that seems to be coming up more and more lately.

In the video you don't just have a manually flown approach with A/P and A/T off. There's a 727 doing a 360° at maximum bank angle at around 100 ft which is just about the aircraft's wing span. What's making this even harder is the water as a flat, monotonous surface which can quickly compromise spatial orientation during a long turn, especially with regards to altitude. I think the pilot in the video is doing an absolutely fantastic job. I don't want to talk down the average pilot flying a modern Airbus or Boeing, but I'd honestly rather have a pilot flying a far less automated aircraft like the 727 which requires much more manual flying on a daily basis than modern aircraft do this type of maneuver than a pilot who is used to engaging the automation just after takeoff and disengaging it only when fully configured at 500 ft on a straight-in approach.

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Alaska  Airlines  operated a 737 combi into Dutch Harbor Alaska years ago.  Hugging the water, and a right turn  slam dunk onto a runway roughly 4000 ft long under some of the worst weather. To me , that is bush piloting. Discovery Channel had the video. My mouth dropped when i saw that one. YouTube has clips of the documentary.

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Posted (edited)
5 hours ago, martin-w said:

 

In general terms yes. But in regard to this particular manovere in the video posted. I have no doubt that a modern airline pilot could fly such a manoever proficiently. 

I believe that this is actually one manoeuvre that they certainly would not do well. The normal circling approach is one of the most poorly performed flight procedures when manually flown. Most modern airliners make use of the autopilot system during this procedure until either late base turn or finals depending on the size of the manoevring area. The scan rate of Glass cockpit crew is poor and flying to a visual horizon a thing of the past. I would suggest that most crew would screw up a low level exercise like that or at least admit that they could have done it much better.
Unlike the crew in that video we just don't fly like that any more. The following video is old but still very relevant. It was filmed during the early 767, 757, 747  era.

Edit: I should have stated that there are probably a number of smaller jet operators (737, A320) that do regular multiple sectors that would have a good scan rate and be capable of performing that manoevre well. Its just not the norm across the world.

 

Edited by cowpatz
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Posted (edited)
16 hours ago, cowpatz said:

I believe that this is actually one manoeuvre that they certainly would not do well.

 

 

Now ask yourself a question... how many times has the pilot in the video flown this approach? How well practised is he? Was he trained to fly this approach? Now subject a modern pilot to the same training and the same degree of practice. I have no doubt that with the training and practice variables the same, the modern pilot would do equally well. If he couldn't, and still had issues, we would all be flying around in modern airliners with incompetent pilots which is not the case. 

 

Quote

I would suggest that most crew would screw up a low level exercise like that or at least admit that they could have done it much better.

 

That statement doesn't really make any sense. Any pilot flying a a tricky or dangerous approach is trained to do so, in addition, they rarely fly such approaches once, they will fly those approaches many times and be well equipped to do so safely.

Thus, the only way you could test your hypothesis is to take a significant number of modern pilots and a signification number of old time pilots that fly with less automated jets, and subject both groups to the same approach with zero training and zero practice. And I should note, to draw any reasonable conclusions you would require a very large number of pilots.

You are entitled to your opinion, but in regard to the video in question, it is pure speculation. 

Where the prevalence of automation does play a role is in terms of emergency situations where the pilot suddenly finds himself having to hand fly in an emergency. That complacency when flying in an automated fashion, can result in issues in such circumstances. But in regard to the video posted here, a pilot who has no doubt flown this approach many times, and is probably trained to do so, then no, we cant claim modern pilots with the same degree of training and practice are somehow less competent and would have trouble with the approach. You could say its disrespectful to modern pilots. 

 

Edited by martin-w

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Posted (edited)
20 hours ago, threegreen said:

I would generally feel the same way, but there have been several accidents in the last 10 years or so that came down to a lack of manual flying skills

 

There have been some. Not many, not a huge number. So a very minimal sample size that doesn't really favour definitive conclusions. Most of those accidents I recall were with emergency situations. Not flying an approach, all be it a hard one, that the pilot is trained for and practised at, as in the video. 

 

Quote

In the video you don't just have a manually flown approach with A/P and A/T off. There's a 727 doing a 360° at maximum bank angle at around 100 ft which is just about the aircraft's wing span. What's making this even harder is the water as a flat, monotonous surface which can quickly compromise spatial orientation during a long turn, especially with regards to altitude. I think the pilot in the video is doing an absolutely fantastic job.

 

Which the pilot is trained to fly and has probably flown many times, thus is highly practised. So special "old time no automation skill" or simply training and practice? 

 

Quote

 I'd honestly rather have a pilot flying a far less automated aircraft like the 727 which requires much more manual flying on a daily basis than modern aircraft do this type of maneuver 

 

Really? Well firstly, automation has saved countless lives, way more than "less manual flying" has caused loss of life. Furthermore, an approach like this is way easier in a fly by wire airbus than a 727. There are a multitude of flight envelope protections to keep pilot and passengers safe when hand flying. Again... give the modern pilot in any aircraft he is trained to fly, the same training to fly a difficult approach, the same amount of practice, and there is no evidence you are less safe as a passenger. 

 

Quote

who is used to engaging the automation just after takeoff and disengaging it only when fully configured at 500 ft on a straight-in approach.

 

Not to the extent you suggest. They often don't do that you know. In order to remain practised at hand flying. 

 

Quote

doing a 360° at maximum bank angle at around 100 ft 

 

Doesn't the approach plate say 200 feet? In which case he messed up. 

 

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Edited by martin-w

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The plate does say 200 feet ASL, but lower is better where MANPADS are concerned, until such time as you put the wingtip in the sea of course..


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5 hours ago, martin-w said:

 

....we would all be flying around in modern airliners with incompetent pilots which is not the case. 

 


 

That’s a nice sentiment, though I’m not sure I quite share your confidence 😄

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