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Is An Autopilot Landing Legal?  
User currently offlineSwisskloten From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Posted (9 years 9 months 4 weeks 16 hours ago) and read 45676 times:

I know that there are some planes that have programming so sophisticated that pilots can switch on the autopilot and have the plane land itself. Where in the world would this be legal? Why would this be necessary? Although autopilot can make corrections, it's still important to keep an eye on the area in front of the plane so split-second corrections can be made. I'm sure the pilots are doing this and I'm sure they would be dead tired after a 10-hour flight but still, isn't it probably better to make it impossible to activate autopilot to land the plane? Are there any pilots out there who have done this before? I flew into Kloten one time and the fog was so thick that visibility was zero. Even when they touched down, I could not see the landing lights on the strip. Would the crew use autopilot if they felt it necessary in this situation?

38 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineJpetekYXMD80 From United States of America, joined Jul 2003, 4389 posts, RR: 27
Reply 1, posted (9 years 9 months 4 weeks 16 hours ago) and read 45587 times:

Not only legal, but I believe it is mandatory to do every X number of cycles. They can be pretty nice, but supposedly the true greaser requires human touch!


The Best Care in the Air, 1984-2009
User currently offlineSoaringadi From United States of America, joined Apr 2004, 472 posts, RR: 0
Reply 2, posted (9 years 9 months 4 weeks 15 hours ago) and read 45572 times:

What Jepetek says is true...

Infact in some types of planes it would be "illegal" if you (the pilots) don't autoland the plane atleast once in a month.

Also I think that the number of autolandings differ from airline to airline according to their policies.

 Smile





If it ain't Boeing, I'm not going !
User currently offlineZKSUJ From New Zealand, joined May 2004, 7108 posts, RR: 12
Reply 3, posted (9 years 9 months 4 weeks 15 hours ago) and read 45550 times:

Yes they are legal.
Put it this way, would big corporations such as Boeing and Airbus promote Illegal operations by installing autoland on their aircraft?


User currently offlineCaboclo From United States of America, joined Nov 2004, 203 posts, RR: 0
Reply 4, posted (9 years 9 months 4 weeks 15 hours ago) and read 45509 times:

It's called a Category IIIC approach. It's designed for when the airport is fogged in. The Cat I approach minimums are 200 foot ceiling and 1800 feet to 1/2 mile visibility, depending on runway lighting. That's the standard ILS approach that all instrument pilots learn in primary training, using basic equipment. Then there is CAT II, and CAT III A, B, and C, each with progressively lower minimums. These obviously require special equipment, special training for the flight crews, and specific authorization for the particular airline. The procedure is to fly the approach on the autopilot down to the minimums, then procede with a manual landing if the field is in sight, with the exception of IIIC which has no minimums and is fully automated. These systems have improved over the years; I read somewhere that the 767 autolandings were pretty firm, but the T7's are much softer.


Freight dogs have more fun
User currently offlineHAWK21M From India, joined Jan 2001, 31684 posts, RR: 56
Reply 5, posted (9 years 9 months 4 weeks 15 hours ago) and read 45482 times:

Autolanding is not only Legal but also Vital in Fogged conditions.
Out here Max is cat IIIA at Del.
regds
MEL



Think of the brighter side!
User currently offlinePhilsquares From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 6, posted (9 years 9 months 4 weeks 15 hours ago) and read 45465 times:

Swisskloten
The thing you have to remember is in modern aircraft, and I will use mine the 744, when you do an auto land there is more than one auto pilot flying. When you have the auto pilot engaged and arm the approach and subsequently intercept the Localizer and G/S, the system has gone through a very intensive self check. If there is any discrepancy, the aircraft degrades it self to either CATII or NO Auto Land.

Here at SQ, the aircraft have to have an auto land every 28 days. It is not uncommon to see them done about once a week. It is a log book entry and is tracked for each aircraft. If the auto land isn't satisfactory, you write it up.

Now if someone could only figure out how to clear the runway and get to the gate with 0/0


User currently offlineHAWK21M From India, joined Jan 2001, 31684 posts, RR: 56
Reply 7, posted (9 years 9 months 4 weeks 14 hours ago) and read 45428 times:

Now if someone could only figure out how to clear the runway and get to the gate with 0/0

 Smile
Common Feature at New Delhi around Fog season ie Dec-Jan.
At times the Aircrafts have to towed back veeeerrryyyy slowly.
regds
MEL



Think of the brighter side!
User currently offlineFJWH From Netherlands, joined May 2004, 969 posts, RR: 3
Reply 8, posted (9 years 9 months 4 weeks 13 hours ago) and read 45321 times:

On the 11th of December I was on a BA flight from AMS to LGW.The landing was rough (thus nice). After we came to an almost complete stop the co-pilot (a woman BTW) announced certain things. One of those was: ...." and the plane landed it self".. She also said something more about the auto pilot but I forgot. Anyway the airport was all covered in fog so, obvious why they landed with autopilot.




FlightS in the next 3 months: MSP, PHX, MEM, NCE, TFS, BCN. All round trips from AMS
User currently offlineMhodgson From United Kingdom, joined Dec 2002, 5047 posts, RR: 25
Reply 9, posted (9 years 9 months 4 weeks 7 hours ago) and read 45088 times:

I was on an AMM flight in 1998 (AMM761D ALC-BHX IIRC!), on a 757. The pilot announced we would be doing an automatic landing at Birmingham, before explaining it was something they had to do every so often.


No trees were harmed by this message. However, several million electrons were terribly inconvenienced
User currently offlineAsteriskceo From United States of America, joined May 2004, 483 posts, RR: 0
Reply 10, posted (9 years 9 months 4 weeks 5 hours ago) and read 44902 times:

The runway, airplane, and pilot have to be rated in order to perform a CAT3 "auto-land". I believe it would be illegal if you tried one without all these three being rated.  Big grin

User currently offlineAir2gxs From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 11, posted (9 years 9 months 4 weeks 4 hours ago) and read 44804 times:

Asteriskco, the operator (airline) must also be rated or approved to operate aircraft in a CAT II or III environment.

User currently offlinePhilsquares From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 12, posted (9 years 9 months 4 weeks 4 hours ago) and read 44775 times:

Just to clarify, you can do an auto land on any runway that has an ILS. We do it all the time. However, to do a CATII or CATIII, then the crew, aircraft and runway have to be CATII or CATIII qualified.

The fail operational on the "glass" aircraft is actually 3 auto pilots. If one fails, then you still have dual autopilot and CATII or no autoland status.



User currently offlineDeltaGuy From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 13, posted (9 years 9 months 4 weeks 3 hours ago) and read 44715 times:

On the 737, it's two autopilots....on the MD-80 series jets, it's just one autopilot actually on (there are two, just not on at the same time)

DeltaGuy


User currently offlineBeechNut From Canada, joined Apr 2004, 726 posts, RR: 10
Reply 14, posted (9 years 9 months 4 weeks ago) and read 43687 times:

"What Jepetek says is true...

Infact in some types of planes it would be "illegal" if you (the pilots) don't autoland the plane atleast once in a month.

Also I think that the number of autolandings differ from airline to airline according to their policies."


It would not be "illegal" for the crew to not do their minimum # of autolands.

But it would de-certify them from CAT III operations.

Mike


User currently offlineStarlionblue From Greenland, joined Feb 2004, 17068 posts, RR: 66
Reply 15, posted (9 years 9 months 3 weeks 6 days 23 hours ago) and read 43432 times:

The procedure is to fly the approach on the autopilot down to the minimums, then procede with a manual landing if the field is in sight, with the exception of IIIC which has no minimums and is fully automated.

Well, not quite. IIIC is a vision category, not a landing method category. As Philsquares points out, landing with IIIC (0/0 viz) can be done but what is the point if you can't taxi to the gate.

Automated landings can done at all Cats. That is, if you autoland you autoland. You don't take over when the field is in sight. You can very well land manually even without the field in sight at the start of the approach, as long as minimums requirements are met.


And here is some more info (most of it stolen from old posts  Big grin )

Aviation - ILS Categories

xxx
Cat.I - 200 feet DH - 2,400 feet (or 1,800 feet) RVR
Metric: 800 metres of 550 meters RVR...
xxx
Cat II Restricted - 150 feet DH - 1,600 feet RVR
metric: 500 metres RVR
xxx
Cat II - 100 feet DH - 1,200 feet RVR
Metric: 350 metres RVR
xxx
Cat.IIIa - 700 feet RVR - no DH (alert height generally 50 feet)
Metric: 250 meters RVR
xxx
Cat.IIIb - 600 feet RVR - no DH (alert height generally 35 feet)
Metric: 175 metres RVR
xxx
Cat.IIIc - zero ceiling, zero visibility - "blind" landing...

RVR is Runway Visual Range, basically a distance in feet that the pilot can expect to see forward in his airplane.


The ILS equipment at the airport must be certified for it, as well as aircraft type (actually individual aircraft) and crew have to be certified.


Alert Height (AH) is not like a Decision Height (DH) -
At "DH" (obtained from radio altimeter for Cat.II) you have to make a DECISION to land or go-around...
xxx
In Cat.III operations, there is no DH... but you have to make a decision to land based on "what you see"... pilots find the DH "decision" very convenient for Cat.II, but did not exist for Cat.III...
xxx
So in "pratical operations", the AH is used somewhat like a DH, but is not regulatory. In other terms, we expect to "see the runway" at that point... which is about 50 feet radio altimeter, just about where the runway threshold is located, in Cat.IIIa minimums. In Cat.IIIb, happens at about 35 feet...
xxx
Many 747 are equipped for Cat.IIIa operations (not Cat.IIIb), although most of the "Classic" 747s (with 3 autopilot channels) have the LRCU that is required for Cat.IIIb... LRCU = landing roll control unit... keeps the nose wheel on the center line, using the localizer...



"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots."
User currently offlineBrick From United States of America, joined Aug 1999, 1589 posts, RR: 7
Reply 16, posted (9 years 9 months 3 weeks 6 days 20 hours ago) and read 42825 times:

Several months ago while on a United flight I heard our flight crew advise ATC that we were going to do an autoland arriving into Denver. It was one of the smoothest A320 landings I have ever experienced...

After the flight I chatted with the first officer. He said at United they have to do one at least once every 30 days.

Mark



A noble spirit embiggens the smallest man...
User currently offlineLfutia From Netherlands, joined Dec 2002, 3345 posts, RR: 30
Reply 17, posted (9 years 9 months 3 weeks 6 days 20 hours ago) and read 42803 times:
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i feel stupid asking but may i ask why you must auto land 1x a month even if you have good weather everyday for a month.


Leo/ORD -- Groetjes uit de VS! -- Heeft u laatst nog met KLM gevlogen?
User currently offlineMD11Engineer From Azerbaijan, joined Oct 2003, 14074 posts, RR: 62
Reply 18, posted (9 years 9 months 3 weeks 6 days 19 hours ago) and read 42649 times:

It is callled a flight confidence check, you´ll do an autoland in good weather conditions, to make sure that everything works as it should.

To be certified for CAT 3B approaches, the runway has to certified (ILS and everything), the aircraft, the pillots, the airline needs to have a special CAT 3 maintenance program running, with especially certified mechanics to work on and test the autopilot systems.

During an autoland, depending on the aircraft, there are several autopilots in action, e.g. on the B757 there are three independent autopilots steering the plane in parallel, each with it´s own sensors (IRU, ILS receiver, radio altimeter, air data computer...) and outputs (each has it´s own servo for each of the primary flight controls. From 1500´ AGL down, the busses will split and each autopilot will have it´s own independent power supply. Together with the autothrottle computer they´ll fly the plane until touchdown and runout. Braking will then be done automatically with the auto speedbrakes system and autobrakes, only the thrust reversers and flaps will have to be operated by hand. The autopilots also crosscheck each other.

The MD11 uses two flight control computers (FCCs), but each box has two seperate channels, which control each other. Each FCC has it´s own power supply, as well as independent inputs and outputs.

Spare parts have to be CAT 3b certified, this means especially bench tested. After maintenance on the autoland system, the whole system has to be checked and tested by a certified mechanic to upgrade the airplane to CAT 3b s
status again.


Jan


User currently offlineFrndlySkys777 From United States of America, joined Apr 2000, 25 posts, RR: 0
Reply 19, posted (9 years 9 months 3 weeks 6 days 18 hours ago) and read 42405 times:

Like everyone else said above, an autoland is legal. Another factor why pilots don't use the autoland all the time would be to maintain "currency." I know in the US that Federal Air Regulations state that pilots must perform landings on their own every so often. Airlines may also choose to adapt tougher standards. Thus the reason why autolands don't occur often.

In fact in my logbook there is acutally a section where you record the number of landings you make.

Regards,
FrndlySkys777


User currently offlineJeb94 From United States of America, joined Oct 2004, 604 posts, RR: 5
Reply 20, posted (9 years 9 months 3 weeks 6 days 17 hours ago) and read 42362 times:

Correct me if I'm wrong but isn't Cat III a crew certification? Thus, a different pilot and F/O combo, though either or both might be Cat III certified, aren't authorized for Cat III approaches as they aren't certified as a team. I've worked for two airlines, neither being Cat III certified, the 1st was Cat II and the current is only Cat I.

User currently offlinePhilsquares From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 21, posted (9 years 9 months 3 weeks 6 days 17 hours ago) and read 42341 times:

No, there is no "crew" certification. As long as each crewmember is certified, then they are authorized to conduct CAT III apporoaches. Assuming all other requirements are met.

User currently offlineJeb94 From United States of America, joined Oct 2004, 604 posts, RR: 5
Reply 22, posted (9 years 9 months 3 weeks 6 days 17 hours ago) and read 42286 times:

Is that for US airlines?

User currently offlineAa777jr From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 23, posted (9 years 9 months 3 weeks 6 days 17 hours ago) and read 42276 times:

Not only is it legal, it's used more often than you think.

User currently offlinePhilsquares From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 24, posted (9 years 9 months 3 weeks 6 days 17 hours ago) and read 42275 times:

Jeb94,

I can't think of any regulatory body that has any requirements for a "crew" certification. In reality it's too unworkable.

I know the FAA/JAA/CAAS/DGAA/KMOT have no requirments.


25 Soaringadi : ***"It would not be "illegal" for the crew to not do their minimum # of autolands. But it would de-certify them from CAT III operations."*** Yeah that
26 Lnglive1011yyz : Here's a question for you -- For all us people who don't work in the industry, do we have a listing of airports (major ones) that are cat iiic certifi
27 Starlionblue : I can't think of any regulatory body that has any requirements for a "crew" certification. In reality it's too unworkable. No kidding. In large organi
28 By188b : I was on a First Choice a321 LGW-IBZ, it was the smoothest landing i had ever had on a aircraft and the captain announced over the pa that the autopil
29 Swisskloten : Interesting replies. That brings up another question: do you have to keep your hands on the yoke when you autoland? Or, are you supposed to keep your
30 Pictues : In the USA it is leagal to Auto Takeoff. In Canada the feature is disabled as it is not permitted in Canada. Also AMS is equiped so that aircraft can
31 Post contains links Av8trxx : Regarding crew certification, US Federal Aviation Regulations for Category III pilot authorization requirements can be found under 61.68- http://ecfr.
32 Philsquares : Just arrived in DEL and had to do a CATIIIA approach. RVR28 was down below 100 meters when we arrived, but finally came up to 200. Just to clarify wha
33 Air2gxs : There are 4 things a flight crew must do in an autoland (in no particular order): 1. Tell the aircraft to do the autoland 2. Extend flaps as required
34 Aviation : Very interesting did not know much about this subject but could someone tell me when was the first relese of the autoland system and on which a/c and
35 Starlionblue : : do you have to keep your hands on the yoke when you autoland? Or, are you supposed to keep your hands off the yoke to ensure that the autopilot is t
36 MD11Engineer : The first plane to autoland was a Trident in the 1960s. Jan
37 IAHERJ : On the 717 at AirTran, we must perform an autoland every 30 days. On the dispatch paperwork it will indicate that the CA and FO are either CAT III , o
38 Popfly : IAHERJ, Now that's the kind of useful info on the 717 I need. IAHERJ, would you be interested in helping make a 717 for Flight Simulator? The gauges a
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