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Flight Engineers, How Important Are They  
User currently offlineAileron11 From United States of America, joined Oct 2005, 183 posts, RR: 0
Posted (8 years 8 months 1 day 2 hours ago) and read 4142 times:

How important is the flight engineer instead of two pilots in control using E.I.C.A.S. The reason I bring this up is because back in the day with flight engineers the pilot just had to fly and the engineer watched over fuel, hydraulics, engine, air conditioning and what ever else I forgot to mention. If something goes wrong with an aircraft that has E.I.C.A.S. Now the pilots have to fly and monitor all the indications that is needed that means his work load doubled were as the flight engineer will do that for pilot and he can concentrate on flying.

Any thoughts on these thanks.


Jersey Lou
33 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineBobnwa From United States of America, joined Dec 2000, 6463 posts, RR: 9
Reply 1, posted (8 years 8 months 1 day 2 hours ago) and read 4134 times:

Can't be too important as just about all airlines do without them.

User currently offlineStitch From United States of America, joined Jul 2005, 30855 posts, RR: 86
Reply 2, posted (8 years 8 months 1 day 2 hours ago) and read 4134 times:
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I would think the flight engineer was made superfluous when Multi-Function Displays (MFDs) were introduced, which meant that all the gauges and switches that needed to be at the Flight Engineer's station are now in 2-4 large full-color displays that fit in the center of the forward console.

And since the computers fly the plane most of the time (since they do so more efficiently), the pilot and co-pilot have plenty of time to watch.  Smile

Also, I expect the MFDs point out the problem for you, instead of you requiring to scan (as the FE had to do).


User currently offlineFilejw From United States of America, joined Sep 2000, 359 posts, RR: 1
Reply 3, posted (8 years 8 months 1 day 2 hours ago) and read 4119 times:

Having flown lots of A/C with both two and three pilots and now flying again with three I must say there is just that extra layer of safety with a F/E .When everything is running normal all is well with two.However throw in an abnormal or emergency the F/E is irreplaceable.

User currently offlineHAWK21M From India, joined Jan 2001, 31667 posts, RR: 56
Reply 4, posted (8 years 8 months 7 hours ago) and read 3943 times:

Technology Advances knocked down the Radio Officer,Then the Navigator & then the Flight Engineer.
Whose next .
regds
MEL



Think of the brighter side!
User currently offlineMatt72033 From United Kingdom, joined May 2005, 1617 posts, RR: 4
Reply 5, posted (8 years 8 months 5 hours ago) and read 3891 times:

Quoting HAWK21M (Reply 4):
Technology Advances knocked down the Radio Officer,Then the Navigator & then the Flight Engineer.
Whose next .

well it wont be engineers MEL  Wink
we can live safe in that knowledge!


User currently offlineJetlagged From United Kingdom, joined Jan 2005, 2546 posts, RR: 24
Reply 6, posted (8 years 8 months 5 hours ago) and read 3890 times:

An engineer is invaluable in cases where troubleshooting is necessary. EICAS and ECAM are excellent systems but can only work as programmed and may not work correctly in unforeseen circumstances. For example, would that Air Transat A330 have run out of fuel had an engineer been on board to interpret what the ECAM was saying, and to remind the pilots to close the fuel crossfeed valve when it didn't solve the fuel imbalance?

On the other hand there can be "too many cooks" as in the case of the Eastern L1011 accident in the Everglades. In that case there were four people on the flightdeck. I would argue three is the ideal number for efficient operation in emergencies.

One advantage of a flight engineer not mentioned so far is in pre-flight. The F/E is qualified to sign the aircraft off for flight after a repair, a pilot is not qualified to do this. That assumes the F/E is a trained engineer, not a third pilot.

Personnally I'm in favour of F/E's on long haul aircraft. After all a relief pilot is required to be carried on long flights, sometimes two. These en-route relief pilots are often not qualified to takeoff or land. Instead, the F/E could act as the second crew member in the flightdeck while one of the pilots takes a rest. Also a third pair of eyes with a different training background can only add to safety on board.



The glass isn't half empty, or half full, it's twice as big as it needs to be.
User currently offlineHAWK21M From India, joined Jan 2001, 31667 posts, RR: 56
Reply 7, posted (8 years 8 months 4 hours ago) and read 3885 times:

Quoting Matt72033 (Reply 5):
well it wont be engineers MEL
we can live safe in that knowledge

Thats true.....Although the worry is in case we run out of ATF  biggrin 
regds
MEL



Think of the brighter side!
User currently offlineJush From Germany, joined Apr 2005, 1636 posts, RR: 3
Reply 8, posted (8 years 8 months 4 hours ago) and read 3875 times:

Quoting Jetlagged (Reply 6):
Personnally I'm in favour of F/E's on long haul aircraft. After all a relief pilot is required to be carried on long flights, sometimes two. These en-route relief pilots are often not qualified to takeoff or land. Instead, the F/E could act as the second crew member in the flightdeck while one of the pilots takes a rest. Also a third pair of eyes with a different training background can only add to safety on board.

I find this a very interesting idea but i think higher skilled persons on the flight deck would increase operating cost heavily...
But personally i don't feel unsafer without the third man on deck...

Regds
jush



There is one problem with airbus. Though their products are engineering marvels they lack passion, completely.
User currently offlineJetlagged From United Kingdom, joined Jan 2005, 2546 posts, RR: 24
Reply 9, posted (8 years 8 months 4 hours ago) and read 3870 times:

Quoting Jush (Reply 8):
I find this a very interesting idea but i think higher skilled persons on the flight deck would increase operating cost heavily...

So no pilots then either?? I believe engineer's pay was usually somewhat less than pilot's so they would be cheaper to employ.



The glass isn't half empty, or half full, it's twice as big as it needs to be.
User currently offlineMD11Engineer From Germany, joined Oct 2003, 13985 posts, RR: 62
Reply 10, posted (8 years 8 months 3 hours ago) and read 3854 times:

Even if they'll have pilotless aircraft some day, they'll still need engineers to fix them! Big grin

Jan


User currently offlineDougloid From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 11, posted (8 years 7 months 4 weeks 1 day 22 hours ago) and read 3801 times:

Nobody's indispensible. Back in the day of the Stratocruiser, the flight engineer may have been the most important man in the aircraft. Times change.

The railroads got rid of brakemen, firemen and the time honored crummy, hack, or whatever you want to call it. When they changed over from journal bearings to roller bearings there were no more hotboxes and no need to have someone on the rear of the train watching. Although the time honored custom of canasta, a coal stove and a coffee pot in the hack was a good one. I actually did see a train stopped one time in 1968 with a journal box fire but it must have been about the last one.


User currently offlineVC-10 From United Kingdom, joined Oct 1999, 3700 posts, RR: 34
Reply 12, posted (8 years 7 months 4 weeks 1 day 21 hours ago) and read 3794 times:
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What has been overlooked in this thread is ACARS. Nowadays the pilot can communicate with the Engineers in Maintenance Control (me) and we can download system data, have access to all the books and over advice to the crew. Naturally the Capt has the final decision, but he has access there is a huge wealth of experience, based on documemtaion and real time data from the a/c.

Not all F/E's were crusty 50 yr olds some were just out of school with little experience


User currently offlineJush From Germany, joined Apr 2005, 1636 posts, RR: 3
Reply 13, posted (8 years 7 months 4 weeks 1 day 9 hours ago) and read 3729 times:

Quoting Jetlagged (Reply 9):
So no pilots then either?? I believe engineer's pay was usually somewhat less than pilot's so they would be cheaper to employ.

No what i meant is. If you have relief pilots who are also engineers i reckon they will demand a certain salary which increases operating costs.

Regds
jush



There is one problem with airbus. Though their products are engineering marvels they lack passion, completely.
User currently offlineDoug_Or From United States of America, joined Mar 2000, 3402 posts, RR: 3
Reply 14, posted (8 years 7 months 4 weeks 1 day 8 hours ago) and read 3722 times:

Don't forget that the 2 pilot flight crew predated EICAS, MFD/EFIS dispals and ACARS.


When in doubt, one B pump off
User currently offline474218 From United States of America, joined Oct 2005, 6340 posts, RR: 9
Reply 15, posted (8 years 7 months 4 weeks 1 day 6 hours ago) and read 3699 times:

How important is the flight engineer?

Will if the aircraft was designed to have a flight engineer it cannot fly if one is not present.

Therefore they are very important.


User currently offlineCosmicCruiser From United States of America, joined Feb 2005, 2255 posts, RR: 15
Reply 16, posted (8 years 7 months 4 weeks 23 hours ago) and read 3658 times:

Quoting Filejw (Reply 3):
Having flown lots of A/C with both two and three pilots and now flying again with three I must say there is just that extra layer of safety with a F/E .When everything is running normal all is well with two.However throw in an abnormal or emergency the F/E is irreplaceable.

You have the only pertinent post that comes from experience. I too have flown with and without the f/e and you summed it up. The extra pair of eyes from that somewhat removed point of view was incredible. Yes, all the great systems schematics on the DUs are neat but I can tell you my workload is greater in the 2 man plane than it was in the 3 man. I could go on ...CC


User currently offlineMir From United States of America, joined Jan 2004, 21552 posts, RR: 55
Reply 17, posted (8 years 7 months 4 weeks 22 hours ago) and read 3656 times:

Quoting Jetlagged (Reply 6):
On the other hand there can be "too many cooks" as in the case of the Eastern L1011 accident in the Everglades. In that case there were four people on the flightdeck. I would argue three is the ideal number for efficient operation in emergencies.

The Eastern crash could have been prevented if someone had been flying the plane instead of having all the crew members trying to fix a landing gear light while, unbeknowst to all of them, the plane was spiralling itself towards the ground. The number of people on the flight deck was quite irrelevant.

-Mir



7 billion, one nation, imagination...it's a beautiful day
User currently offlineWrighbrothers From United Kingdom, joined Jul 2005, 1875 posts, RR: 9
Reply 18, posted (8 years 7 months 4 weeks 22 hours ago) and read 3652 times:

Well, the F/E is (in my view) is a well needed person on the flight deck.
If you think, computer crash, and there are lots of people who can hack into computers.
Now, once you've had a computer crash , no matter how many back up back up computers there are, you will be in trouble, no navigation, no things telling what's gone wrong, just a blank screen .
Now humans can make mistakes, BUT SO CAN COMPUTERS,
when your average computer at home crashes half way through you typing a very long letter, and just blanks out and losses everything, it's annoying, and it happens, computers can wrongly calculate things, and the problem is that the pilots would go along with it, and that could mean disaster.
The F/E can discuss what's wrong with the rest of the flight crew, look at his panel and see the little gauge which shows the computers are wrong, yet he computer isn't going to jump out and say "hey, I think I'm wrong, something ain't right here".
I mean, this is the same technology which crashes computers and freezes printers when you tell it to cancel half way through printing, and gets bugged.
anyday.
I am a firm believer of humans, and would trust a human over a computer.(which is at the end of the day just a bundle of wires), and also, what sounds, better ?
3 people in the cockpit, all the vital systems under the watchful eye of a human,
View Large View Medium
Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © F van Moos


or under the control of a bundle of wires in a box ??

Wrighbrothers.

[Edited 2005-12-25 23:35:04]


Always stand up for what is right, even if it means standing alone..
User currently onlineStarlionblue From Greenland, joined Feb 2004, 17014 posts, RR: 67
Reply 19, posted (8 years 7 months 4 weeks 22 hours ago) and read 3646 times:

Quoting Wrighbrothers (Reply 18):
Now, once you've had a computer crash , no matter how many back up back up computers there are, you will be in trouble, no navigation, no things telling what's gone wrong, just a blank screen .
Now humans can make mistakes, BUT SO CAN COMPUTERS,
when your average computer at home crashes half way through you typing a very long letter, and just blanks out and losses everything, it's annoying, and it happens, computers can wrongly calculate things, and the problem is that the pilots would go along with it, and that could mean disaster.

I'm sorry, but you can't draw the parallel between a home computer and a flight computer. They are different in programming, hardware, interface, accessibility and a ton of other things.

Quoting Wrighbrothers (Reply 18):
I mean, this is the same technology which crashes computers and freezes printers when you tell it to cancel half way through printing, and gets bugged.

Eh ok...

Quoting Wrighbrothers (Reply 18):
I am a firm believer of humans, and would trust a human over a computer.(which is at the end of the day just a bundle of wires), and also, what sounds, better ?

I would trust a well programmed computer to do it's job well 100% of the time.



You obviously don't understand how computers work very well. I don't have time to go into it now, so I will leave you with the factoid that no Airbus has EVER had a fatality due to a fault in flight control software. Just like any other component, the flight control computers are not allowed to act as a single point of failure.

[Edited 2005-12-25 23:39:55]


"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots."
User currently offlineMatt72033 From United Kingdom, joined May 2005, 1617 posts, RR: 4
Reply 20, posted (8 years 7 months 4 weeks 22 hours ago) and read 3634 times:

Quoting Wrighbrothers (Reply 18):

LOL please name a situation where an aircrafts computers have crapped out and having an FE on board would have helped?


User currently onlineStarlionblue From Greenland, joined Feb 2004, 17014 posts, RR: 67
Reply 21, posted (8 years 7 months 4 weeks 21 hours ago) and read 3622 times:

Ok I'm back.

Some people think that since their home computers crash and malfunction so frequently, every computer does. That's like bundling a Cessna 172 and an Airbus A319 and saying they are the same thing. Sure, they both have wings and stuff, but I think most would agree they are built along slightly different lines. Also, the training of the pilots is just a mite different, no?

The kind of rather crappy quality of service seen in home use is hardly the norm even in corporate datacenters, let alone aviation.

And yes, Windows can be made quite stable, thank you very much.

On a home machine, there is no telling what combination of hardware and software is used. In an aircraft the hardware/software combo is known to the letter. There is rigorous change control and testing. There's no way you will find the same sorts of errors occuring commonly.

Of course, sometimes there are screwups, like with the Ariane 5 guidance error. But it should be noted that the Ariane 5 booster isn't man rated, and thus a higher error probability is accepted.


As Matt72033 says, just because you have an F/E doesn't mean you can recover from complete computer failure.

I think that if we look at accident stats, the pilots are just as often the main reason for the accident as the hardware. I'm not saying the hardware is perfect, but only by combining improved aircraft systems with better training can aviation continue to progress towards ever greater safety. Not that it's so bad todat.

[Edited 2005-12-26 00:47:38]


"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots."
User currently offlineHAWK21M From India, joined Jan 2001, 31667 posts, RR: 56
Reply 22, posted (8 years 7 months 4 weeks 14 hours ago) and read 3582 times:

Quoting MD11Engineer (Reply 10):
Even if they'll have pilotless aircraft some day, they'll still need engineers to fix them!

I doubt you'd get Pax to Fly in them though  Smile

Quoting Starlionblue (Reply 21):
Ok I'm back.

Where/When did you go away.

I don't think it'll reduce further.Two man Flying crew will always stay.
regds
MEL



Think of the brighter side!
User currently offlineMatt72033 From United Kingdom, joined May 2005, 1617 posts, RR: 4
Reply 23, posted (8 years 7 months 4 weeks 10 hours ago) and read 3569 times:

Quoting HAWK21M (Reply 22):
I don't think it'll reduce further.Two man Flying crew will always stay.

well....you never know! especially if the cost of fuel keeps escalating!


User currently offlineVc10 From United Kingdom, joined Nov 2001, 1407 posts, RR: 16
Reply 24, posted (8 years 7 months 4 weeks 10 hours ago) and read 3564 times:

Well people are used to do a job when machines/electronics cannot, and up until recent times electronics/computers were just not up to the standard where they could control systems safely under normal conditions never mind failure conditions. The engine control complexity in the big multi engine piston engine era required an individual to look after them so as to get any sort of efficiency from them on long range flights. With the advent of the jet airliner the engine control requirement reduced but the aircrafts system became more complicated so an individual was again required.
Why use an engineer then well because these people usually came with hands on ground engineering experience which could be put to good use when things went wrong both in the air and on the ground especially in an era of poor world wide communications so preventing technical assistance being given from base. To assist with this F/E were normally given a longer technical conversion course.
Times have moved on now though and F/E now have been successfully replaced by electronics and I would not put money on it continuing to at least replace one of the pilots, after all was it not Air Anglia who legally flew a small turbo prop with just one pilot and the F/A


25 Post contains images HAWK21M : That would never happen even if the price of Fuel was more than the cost of Platinium regds MEL
26 Post contains images Starlionblue : History shows that things that will "never happen" sooner or later tend to happen. Be very careful Some examples: - Supersonic flight. - Demand for m
27 Whiskeyflyer : when we fly charters to out of the way places, we place an engineer in the cockpit, but he is simply there to fix defects on the ground at the outstat
28 Beowulf : How exactly does the communication take place via ACARS. I have not seen a keyboard in an aircraft (the A380 is an exception), except fot the keypad
29 HAWK21M : Not when it comes to Safety. Pax would want more than one pilot on board or a Safety feature that could bring the Aircraft on Ground Normally in case
30 VC-10 : I believe the topic is about FLIGHT Engineers, not Ground engineers flying with the a/c. Nick, The crew use the FMS/CMC MCDU keypad to type in the me
31 Starlionblue : Perceived wisdom of the times... When railroads were first built, there were predictions that the high speeds would make people faint or lose their m
32 Beowulf : Quite tedious, isn't it? As you say, it's a keypad and not a full grown keyboard. Nick
33 HAWK21M : Time would tell.Technology & Safety would play a big role. regds MEL
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