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Why Are We Really Losing The FE  
User currently offlineGalaxy5 From United States of America, joined Mar 2000, 2034 posts, RR: 23
Posted (16 years 2 months 1 week 4 days 2 hours ago) and read 2786 times:

why are the airlines really getting rid of the flight engineer. is it a cost savings measure? what about safety to the crew and passengers does that really matter
anymore. isnt it safer, even in a new airplane to have a third person dedicated
to systems understanding and help during inflight and ground emergencies.

"damn, I didnt know prince could Ball like that" - Charlie Murphy
8 replies: All unread, jump to last
User currently offlineHeavyJet From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 1, posted (16 years 2 months 1 week 3 days 22 hours ago) and read 2659 times:


User currently offlineWoxof From United States of America, joined Nov 2015, 0 posts, RR: 0
Reply 2, posted (16 years 2 months 1 week 3 days 21 hours ago) and read 2657 times:

Technology has allowed the FE's tasks to be "monitored" by computers not available in the past. Might be better to have a software engineer than a flight engineer.
You ask "isn't it safer...?" well, using that logic (and I'm not disagreeing with you, simply playing the devil's advocate) then if three is better than two, how about four? If four is better than three, what about five? and if...You get the point.
I once attended a safety seminar in Mountain View with Captain Al Haynes (or is it Hayes) where he said he would never fly an AC with fewer than three engines, or three crew members (more or less the quote). Now, in ALL DUE RESPECT to Captain Haynes, if that AC had only had three crew members, they very likely would not have been able to survive as the training crew member flying in the back came up front to handle the throttles (while the others were busy attending to other functions). Again, I ask...If three is better than two, then why not load the aircraft full of crew members, and tack a few more engines to the fuselage?
Seems a bit flippant, but at what point do you say the chance that the additional crew member (or engine) will help is so negligable, it becomes an economics issue. Hence HEAVYJET is correct, it's all about the $$$$$.

User currently offlineJust me From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 3, posted (16 years 2 months 1 week 3 days 15 hours ago) and read 2637 times:

It's not just the # of crew members on the aircraft...it's assigned duties. In the case of a flight engineer, you have a non-pilot there to handle the aircraft systems in an emergency. In addition, their responsibility to the aircraft is that of a systems expert.!.and only a systems expert (in theory). If you're flying a 2 person cockpit aircraft with 3 pilots on board for FAR purposes, it's not as ideal of a situation (in my opinion) since the third pilot doesn't really have an assigned station or responsibilities short of being "relief crew". The engineer has his/her own panel, duties, checklists, etc. and is not trying to fly the plane. In most historic cases where a flight engineer equipped aircraft crashed, you'll find that nobody was flying the aircraft and everyo e was trying to do the flight engineer's duties (case in point: UAL Salt Lake City). I really likd the idea of having someone on my crew who's sole responsibility is to the aircraft systems. It makes life much easier for me during an emergency while I'm coordinating with ATC, flying the aircraft, talking to company/pax/flight attendant, etc.

User currently offlineTrident From United Kingdom, joined Feb 2000, 484 posts, RR: 0
Reply 4, posted (16 years 2 months 1 week 3 days 15 hours ago) and read 2630 times:

There have been some accidents where having an FE on board may have been a contributory factor ie. he was not performing the duty he should have been carrying out. An example is the UAL DC-8 at Portland, Oregon which ran out of fuel. The engineer was in the passenger cabin helping out the flight attendants instead of monitoring the fuel levels.

User currently offlineHmmmm... From Canada, joined May 1999, 2114 posts, RR: 5
Reply 5, posted (16 years 2 months 1 week 3 days 14 hours ago) and read 2627 times:

All the points so far have been well made. The only thing I can add to this discussion is that the pilots in today's jets are really flight engineers in themselves. Computers have played musical chairs in the cockpit. The pilot flies, the co-pilot monitors, and the FE gets the pink slip. The last time the music stopped, it was the navigator that got left without a seat.

In today's fourth generation jets, the pilots spend almost all of their time monitoring the aircraft, not flying per se. So there is no reason really to have a FE when you already have another flight engineer in the cockpit already. On autopilot, you have two FEs in the cockpit. Generally, one pilot is a FE that flies, while the other pilot is a FE that monitors and communicates.

Which brings up the issue of the navigator. Long before most of you guys were born, there were four bodies in the cockpit, two pilots to fly,.one engineer to handle the engines, and one guy to read navigation charts and talk on the radio. Well, we got rid of that last guy about 40 years ago and nobody misses him today. Flight engineers have gone the same route.

We could eliminate pilots, too, from the loop, and since most accidents are caused by pilot error, we would save a lot of lives and be better off for it. The only reason for not evolving to that stage is that the flying public would be hesitant to board a plane without pilots. If Airline A flew aircraft without pilots, while Airline B flew aircraft with pilots, I don't have to tell you which plane would fill up first.

So, getting rid of the navigator, and getting rid of the flight engineer, was all about saving money. But keeping the pilots in the cockpit is all about saving face.


An optimist robs himself of the joy of being pleasantly surprised
User currently offlineVC-10 From United Kingdom, joined Oct 1999, 3727 posts, RR: 32
Reply 6, posted (16 years 2 months 1 week 3 days 14 hours ago) and read 2627 times:
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These days the Systems experts are on the ground in the airlines Maintenance Control. If the crew have a problem they can:-

1) Satcom Maintrol.

2) ACARS Maintrol

3) HF call Maintrol

4) VHF call Maintrol (If in range)

In addition to this, the a/c will be able to download a current Flt fault report that the sytems experts can use to analyse any faults and suggest to the crew what action to take.

User currently offlineHeavyJet From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 7, posted (16 years 2 months 1 week 3 days 14 hours ago) and read 2623 times:

Hmmmm says: >>We could eliminate pilots, too, from the loop, and since most accidents are caused by pilot error, we would save a lot of lives and be better off for it<<

While you make valid points, lets not forget that many accidents have also been prevented by the pilots when the "automation" hiccups. Your right about the public not wanting to get on an airplane without a human pilot up front...I know I wouldn't.

User currently offlineSIMUL8 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 8, posted (16 years 2 months 1 week 2 days 19 hours ago) and read 2612 times:

As a simulator instructor I spend about four hours a day watching pilots and flight engineers deal with abnormal and emergency situations.

Anyone that thinks a 2 person cockpit is as safe as a 3 probably doesn't fly big jets.

Example: Engine fire after V1- Pilot flying maintains aircraft control, pilot not flying assist with aircraft clean up ie gear,flap,slat, advises ATC, and assists in climbout procedures. This frees the FE to deal with the emergency checklists which can be several. And if a emergency return is planned all the normal checklist must be accomplished as well.

Even with 3 people in the cockpit task saturation still happens often. The glass cockpit does not make the work load less but adds more heads down time.

This all started about 20 years ago by ALPA with the idea that pilots can get in the cockpit by making the flight engineer seat a second officer seat.

I am with Al Haynes on this one. My $0.02 worth

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