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About skelsey

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    Broadcast journalist and BAVirtual Director of Training.

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  1. skelsey

    Pilot license checks

    In EASA land there are "SAFA" (Safety Assessment of Foreign Aircraft - for non-EU carriers) and "SACA" (Safety Assessment of Community Aircraft -- for EU carriers) inspectors who carry out spot ramp inspections. Not particularly uncommon, I gather, and as I understand they check (or try to check, depending on the time available) absolutely everything -- from crew documentation to procedures, the aircraft library and manuals, aircraft certification, maintenance records, safety equipment etc etc etc.
  2. skelsey

    Obituary: Eric Ernst

    The father of ‘study sims’, a devoted family man and a passionate aviator, Captain Eric William Ernst was a pioneer in the development of high-fidelity add-on aircraft for Flight Simulator. Born in Nashville, Tennessee, Ernst followed his father Raymond in to a career as a pilot, flying first for American Eagle before joining American Airlines in 1999. And it was his love of flying which led him to start developing freeware panels for FS98, most notably for the Boeing 757/767 but also the MD-80. At a time when realistically-shaped 2D panels – never mind flyable virtual cockpits – were still regarded as an exotic new feature and the most advanced in-sim avionics available were a VOR receiver and (barely) 25kHz compatible COM radio – Eric Ernst’s work was ground-breaking. Not only did he create intricately detailed panels with high quality textures, he also created many of his own custom gauges. The result was a level of immersion and realism that had never been seen previously. It was this pursuit of ever greater fidelity which led Ernst to create 767 Pilot in Command in 2001. One awestruck reviewer declared at the time: “this is quite simply the best, most complete, most reliable, bug-free panel I have seen to date.” From a fully-simulated Inertial Reference System which drifted realistically over time to the most complete and complex FMC that had ever been seen in a desktop flight simulator -- plus a 224 page manual to tell you how to use it all -- 767 Pilot in Command was the first Flight Simulator add-on which could truly be described as “study level”. It was a high bar which future add-on developers would have to jump over if they were to be taken seriously. Many, since the news of his death, have described Eric Ernst as an inspiration. Without question, we would not be enjoying add-ons with the level of fidelity we take for granted today if it were not for Ernst’s revolutionary work on 767 PIC. Many simmers continue to enjoy Ernst’s creations even now in the form of the Level-D 767 revitalised for FS2004, FSX and even more recently for Prepar3D v3. It is a testament to how far the product was ahead of its time that it still stands tall, if no longer quite shoulder-to-shoulder, amongst the leviathans of modern developers. For all his passion for aviation and flight simulation, however, Eric’s greatest love was for his family and it was his devotion to his wife Randi and daughters Amanda and Cassandra that led him to place himself in to what he described as a “self-imposed exile” from the sim community some time after the release of 767 PIC. A gentleman in every sense of the word, those who corresponded with him spoke of his warmth, patience and passion in conversation. A First Officer for almost his entire airline career, Ernst finally made the move to the left hand seat in 2017, achieving his lifelong dream of commanding an American Airlines aircraft. With his death at the age of 51, the flight simulation community has lost perhaps its greatest pioneer: in a world where we now take complexity for granted, Eric Ernst was a giant upon whose shoulders all of today’s developers stand.
  3. skelsey

    Ext Air & Packs

    A good reminder that the FCOM (etc) is not a "read cover to cover and memorise it" document - it is fundamentally a reference manual and nobody could be expected to commit every word of the thousands of pages to memory. Whilst obviously the normal procedures/flows need to be memorised - everything else really, from a sim point of view, is stuff which is looked up as and when needed. ITRW it would be quite common to "read and do" many of the supplementary procedures from the manual rather than trying to remember something which one might only have done on a small number of occasions previously! The important thing is to have a very general appreciation of the content and structure of the various manuals. Generally speaking, if you have a question about how to operate the aircraft Boeing will almost always have thought about it first - you just need to find the right book and the right search term! Not an admonishment by any means as posing questions like this in the forum leads to interesting discussions for all of us: just a general observation that many are scared off by the size of the manuals. Treat the manuals like a dictionary or encyclopaedia - look up the specific things you need but don't feel as though you need to know every word on every page! If you want to know more about a particular system or subject then by all means read those sections, but beyond the normal flows and QRH memory items you don't need to store it all in your head! APU fuel should be accounted for as part of the taxi fuel (fuel for start, taxi and APU usage if significant). Remember that whatever the "fuel policy" - ultimately as the Commander you are responsible for loading the fuel that you want. Of course, that doesn't mean you have to go nuts - but if the computer hasn't accounted for APU usage then you should do yourself! As a guide, the 747-400 APU burns about 300kg/hr. This (as with pack usage on startup) s very much airline specific (and environmentally specific as well to an extent). BA turn packs off above 300 tonnes as this reduces EGT. They also turn all the packs off for start, but other airlines may leave one on (provided you have sufficient duct pressure, which I would suggest may not be the case with an external start cart).
  4. skelsey

    767 PIC Creator Eric Ernst Dies

    767 Pilot in Command developer and 'study sim' pioneer Eric Ernst has died at the age of 51. Capt Ernst passed away on April 10 but news of his death has only recently reached the FS community. His freeware 757/767 panels for FS98 paved the way for the development of the hugely popular 767 Pilot in Command for FS2000 and subsequent Level-D 767. 767 PIC was the first time in-depth modelling of all major aircraft systems, along with realistic failure and autoflight modelling, had been seen in a desktop flight simulator. Its successor, the Level-D 767, won widespread acclaim as one of the best add-ons ever created for MSFS and is still in use today, having been patched for P3D v3 compatibility last year. In a post on the Level-D Simulations forum, developer Daryl Shuttleworth called Capt Ernst "an incredible guy" who "loved his family, friends, aviation, and the PIC 767" and allowed the Level-D team to incorporate much of his work. LDS forum user Egajet said Ernst was "A true artist and a gentleman", saying he would remember his first flights with the 767 PIC "with emotion". Capt Ernst started flying for American Eagle in 1991, joining American Airlines as a First Officer in 1999 and had recently been upgraded to Captain. He is survived by his wife Randi, daughters Amanda and Cassandra and parents Raymond and Virginia.
  5. Whilst I'm sure that you are correct in that carbon brake wear is likely to be much more complex than just number of applications, this seems to be the general 'pilot friendly' advice from both Boeing and Airbus. A few useful links: Happy reading!!
  6. Dan is correct -- lower brake energy is generally achieved with lower autobrake settings as other factors can assist in the deceleration (and certainly one would want to consider partial or full reverse in a brake energy limited situation). Because the autobrake targets a deceleration rate and not a constant brake pressure, use of a low autobrake setting in combination with reverse (and the other effects less under the pilot's control such as aerodynamic drag and rolling resistance) may result in very little if any brake application, particularly in the early stages of the landing roll where reverse and aerodynamic effects provide their greatest contribution. Obviously at lower speeds the wheel brakes will gradually "take over" but of course by then the total energy remaining to be converted to heat is much less (Ek = 1/2mv2). This leads on to... The reason as I was always lead to believe is that this to do with carbon brake wear. Carbon brake wear is directly proportional to the number of applications. This is significantly different to traditional steel brake wear, which is heavily linked to brake temperature. As such, with very low autobrake settings (i.e. 1) the autobrakes are liable to cycle on and off repeatedly during the landing run as the target deceleration rate may be very close to that achievable through aerodynamic/rolling resistance means alone. This increases carbon brake wear significantly, whereas using brake 2 with the resultant higher target deceleration rate is more likely to provide a single smooth automatic application of the brakes (but resulting in higher brake temperatures). So for normal ops with carbon brake equipped aircraft, brake 2 results in lower brake wear overall. However, brake 1 results in lower temperatures and therefore is useful in hot and high/brake energy-limited situations.
  7. Wilhelm will I'm sure confirm his thinking, but on the 747 at least it would be normal to use brake 1 at hot and high airfields because of the higher ground speeds involved (= more energy to be absorbed by the brakes = more heat).
  8. Ah! Your rule of thumb for rate of descent is right, but you are using the wrong speed. Remember it is ground speed x 5 to give you the approximate rate of descent. Cali, elevation 3162 ft with a temperature as I type of 24 degrees Celsius, is very much a 'high density altitude airfield' ('hot and high'). This means that your TAS (and hence GS) will be a lot higher than if you were landing at a sea level airfield, resulting in higher rates of descent and general energy management issues. For example, using today's conditions an IAS of 145 kt would result in a TAS of 156 kt and probably closer to 160 kt on the approach - necessitating a rate of descent closer to 800fpm (bearing in mind also, as Dan says, that GS x 5 is just a rule of thumb approximation and not a perfect mathematical solution so there is some definite 'fudge factor' required). During your descent were you checking your height against the DME? Ultimately you need to adjust the rate to stay on the charted profile, ie to arrive at 1.1NM from RW02 at 3560 ft. As I say, this is a touch above a 3 degree profile but should be easily recoverable.
  9. I'm slightly confused by this. Looking at the chart, the published descent path takes you to the MDA of 3560ft at 1.1NM from the runway. The final 405 ft from there is a fraction steeper than 3 degrees, but only a hair. However, I have a feeling you might be misinterpreting how to fly an NPA like this. You're not trying to fly to the missed approach point (RW02 -- the runway threshold) at 3500ft are you? If you can see the runway, you simply fly visually to it and land! However, you must not descend below the MDA until you can see the runway. If you then reach the Missed Approach Point and still haven't seen the runway, you go around. However, in practice you would fly this as a continuous descent approach rather than a 'dive and drive' -- so if you follow the descent path published on the chart (to 3560 ft at 1.1 NM from the threshold) and don't see the runway at that point you would go around (as clearly you would not be able to achieve a properly stabilised approach if you start your final descent inside 1NM).
  10. skelsey

    B777 Engine Fire on Takeoff

    Could you elaborate on how you are trying to fly the aircraft? V speeds would be useful as well (how did you calculate them?) This might help pin down whether the issue lies with your technique or somewhere else.
  11. skelsey

    PA-24 Fatal Crash caught on traffic camera

    Agreed, Scott. From the information given so far, pilot "error" may be quite a generous categorisation. "Error" implies an inadvertent mistake or slip; putting six adults + luggage + fuel for a 250nm flight in a Comanche is, I might argue, unlikely to be an "error".
  12. The only other thing I would add is that "no ATC speed restriction" is not equal to "fly 350 KIAS". If ATC lift a speed restriction, you do not automatically have to immediately wind up the engines and get the ASI pegged to the barber pole. Indeed, in many situations it would be inappropriate to do so, especially in the situations Mark and Ian allude to above; arrival and departure procedures rely upon accurate lateral tracking not only for noise preferential routes, but potentially also for terrain or airspace constraints and lateral tracking performance is directly related to airspeed. Likewise climb rate/gradient may be an issue in some cases, as will energy management on descent. Sure, if you're above MSA and clear of any tight turns then you may well wish to go for it. Or not -- by the time you've done that, how much time are you going to save by the time you've wound the speed up and faffed around with the CDU before you're above FL100 anyway? If ATC want you to fly a given speed then they'll give it to you: if all they're doing is saying "no ATC speed restriction", you are entirely within your rights to say "thank you very much" and do absolutely nothing differently if you don't feel inclined.
  13. As mentioned above - airline captains are not medical experts and this is why Medlink exist. And this is where the precise nature of the emergency makes a big difference to where one might choose to land. If you're on fire then clearly the priority is to get the aeroplane on the grounds ASAP and worry about how you're going to accommodate the pax etc later. But in a medical emergency just putting the aeroplane on the ground at the nearest airport is not necessarily going to result in the best outcome. What if there are no steps suitable for the aircraft type available? How will you get your sick pax off/paramedics on? I know nothing of Albuquerque but I know in very general terms that Dallas/Fort Worth is a much bigger place, potentially with much better medical facilities, and it is my understanding that Medlink will recommend options based on the quality and availability of facilities on the ground as much as anything. To take it to the extreme - if you're over northern Greenland on a transatlantic flight, dumping the aircraft in Sondestrom is probably not going to get your sick passenger the quickest or most effective medical assistance compared to flying a bit longer and landing in civilisation. Another favourite real-world example: B777 on a transatlantic, UK-USA west coast. Potable water runs out over the Atlantic. Crew divert to Iqaluit to uplift additional potable water. All very well, but on arrival it emerges no potable water is available - it was all frozen! Result: complete waste of time, money and fuel and the solution to the problem significantly delayed. If this is true then AA's bigger issue is likely to be the non-functioning first aid equipment rather than the captain's decision assuming Medlink's advice was followed.
  14. skelsey

    Ridiculously hard landing on LAND 3 (-771fpm)

    Steady on guys... Andrew has already said that he doesn't use autoland all the time, and implied that the visibility was such that one was warranted. Regardless, it sounds as though for whatever reason the aircraft failed to flare properly, an issue which has been reported, sporadically, by other users in the past. I don't know the technical details of how the PMDG 777 autopilot is coded but from what I know about P3D in general I would suggest that it is possible this could be scenery related in some way. Technical issues aside - it does highlight the need to be poised and ready to take action if the automation doesn't function as expected! Malfunctions can and do occur and it is vital to be in the mindset to take prompt action if e.g. no flare occurs (even if everything annunciates correctly). Not easy and there is very little time to identify the problem and intervene!