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Flight Engineers Back In The Cockpit  
User currently offlineMriya225 From French Polynesia, joined Nov 2011, 0 posts, RR: 0
Posted (14 years 3 months 6 days 9 hours ago) and read 2695 times:

I'd like to know what the outlook for Flight Engineers is in commercial aviation. I, for one, beleive they can be an invaluable - regardless of the fancy new technology. Why have they so little respect?

17 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineC172sb From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 1, posted (14 years 3 months 6 days 8 hours ago) and read 2479 times:

The is future is slim, eventually all the aircraft requiring an FE will be gone. With the advancement in technology they are not necessary and the airlines certainly don't like forking out the extra money. I wouldn't say that there is a lack of respect for them, but most of them are trying to get in the right or left seat, that is where the fun is. Where would you put them? Two crew aircraft don't have any sort of panel for them any ways, what would they do, seat in the jumpseat and fill in a coloring book.

User currently offlineMriya225 From French Polynesia, joined Nov 2011, 0 posts, RR: 0
Reply 2, posted (14 years 3 months 6 days 6 hours ago) and read 2456 times:

What is that supposed to be...wit?

This is a serious inquiry; maybe somebody old enough to be a flight engineer or have flown with one could respond.


User currently offlineVC-10 From United Kingdom, joined Oct 1999, 3702 posts, RR: 34
Reply 3, posted (14 years 3 months 6 days 6 hours ago) and read 2441 times:
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Is there any fun to be had these days in the front seats ?

User currently offlineAAR90 From United States of America, joined Jan 2000, 3476 posts, RR: 46
Reply 4, posted (14 years 3 months 6 days ago) and read 2415 times:

The FE position is dead. Killed by economics and technology. As a 727 FE [2 trips, oh wow   ] I recall how everything was done manually looking at guages and lights. As DC10 FE I was taught to push a button to perform the same function. On 757/767/F100/MD80/MD90... etc. we don't care. It is done automatically or not at all.




*NO CARRIER* -- A Naval Aviator's worst nightmare!
User currently offlineJt8djet From United States of America, joined Jul 2000, 214 posts, RR: 0
Reply 5, posted (14 years 3 months 4 days 9 hours ago) and read 2370 times:

757/767 P61 panel.... AKA "The Flight Engineers Memorial Panel"

User currently offlineGregg From United States of America, joined Jun 2000, 327 posts, RR: 0
Reply 6, posted (14 years 3 months 4 days 3 hours ago) and read 2344 times:

The early trans-atlantic 707s had 4 cock pit people. Pilot, co-pilot, FE, and navigator. Do we want to rip the GPS out of our 747-400s and bring the navigators back?

The PC does an excellent job of monitoring the aircraft systems, so I doubt if the FE will ever be back.



User currently offlineAaron atp From United States of America, joined Mar 2000, 533 posts, RR: 2
Reply 7, posted (14 years 3 months 4 days 2 hours ago) and read 2330 times:

we've discussed this before, and I've yet to see one viable reason presented for resurrecting the FE position in a modern aircraft.

Perhaps you can give me insight on why you think they could be cost-effective?

here is the short list of absurd reasons:
  • another set of eyes
  • in case the captain and FO become incapicitated
  • to tweak the throttles for efficiency
  • to monitor engine parameters


    the shorter list of viable reasons:
  • to unclog the lav
  • emergency checklists



    to make a useful modern FE, they would need:
  • microelectronics engineering degree
  • soft hands




    it's cost benefit analysis. For anything less than a jumbo, it's neither practical nor beneficial.




    aaron





  • User currently offlineDesertJets From United States of America, joined Feb 2000, 7787 posts, RR: 16
    Reply 8, posted (14 years 3 months 4 days 1 hour ago) and read 2326 times:

    I thought about your points and you are pretty right.

    You don't need the 3rd crew member....
    Anyways a relief pilot/crew is required on flights over 8 hours (correct me if I am wrong here), so you really do have another set of eyes.

    Hopefully the captain and f/o will never become incapcitated... that is why they should never both eat the fish, remember the movie "Airplane"?

    Most modern long haul jets have or will eventually be equipped with systems like FADEC so tweaking the throttles isn't that important... you no longer need to set mixture and prop controls anymore.

    And EICAS systems monitor the engines, along with the million other gizmos.


    Plus I don't think too many people with degrees in microelectronic engineering would want a job where a part of the job description involved unclogging lavs at 35,000'. And to have a highly specialized and trained non-piloting crew member seems to be VERY costly.

    That sound about right?



    Stop drop and roll will not save you in hell. --- seen on a church marque in rural Virginia
    User currently offlineMriya225 From French Polynesia, joined Nov 2011, 0 posts, RR: 0
    Reply 9, posted (14 years 3 months 3 days 20 hours ago) and read 2319 times:

    What's with your slack-jawed exasperation?

    You find the idea of replacing a flight qualified aircraft mechanic with a panel tedious? Hmmm, Okay...and when management decides that pilots are no longer 'cost effective' - we'll just shove them out the cockpit too (keep in mind that we already have the technology to do it).

    I've known a lot of exceptionally bright and knowledgeable pilots. I trust them, completely, to fly their aircraft well. I even trust that they'd have a damned good idea of what the problem may be if something goes wrong. But there is only one person in that cockpit who is (by definition) qualified to know exactly what the problem is and precisely what needs to be done to fix it - that would be the useless flight engineer.

    You may argue that a panel of blinking lights and warning sounds would do you about as much good when you're airborne as a flight engineer, and you'd probably be right. But no pilot is fool enough to wait until they're airborne before thinking about the mechanical integrity of their aircraft. Technology has come a long way, and yet, as good as the technology is - I've never seen a panel do a comprehensive pre-flight inspection. I've never seen a panel thoroughly inspect the repairs of a rookie flightline A&P. I've never seen a panel roll up its sleeves and help change out a DC-8 engine, on the ramp, so that the a/c would block out on time (incidentally, saving potentially tens of thousands of dollars in departure delay chargebacks).

    Technology has replaced no one, it has only shifted a considerable burden and responsiblity back into the hands of two people who already had their hands full. I cannot, in good conscience, call that progress.


    User currently offlineL-188 From United States of America, joined Jul 1999, 29805 posts, RR: 58
    Reply 10, posted (14 years 3 months 3 days 19 hours ago) and read 2307 times:

    That was the deal when I worked for Reeve.

    The FE's are all A&P's. Since there is no maintainence outside of the home base at Anchorage the FE is the one who gets the job of trying to diagnose and take care of any problems that may occour. Also more importantly he can sign off MEL items so if one breaks in the feild the aircraft can still make it back to town.



    OBAMA-WORST PRESIDENT EVER....Even SKOORB would be better.
    User currently offlineJt8djet From United States of America, joined Jul 2000, 214 posts, RR: 0
    Reply 11, posted (14 years 3 months 3 days 10 hours ago) and read 2285 times:

    From what I know, having an A&P is not a requirement for Flight Engineers. Some have them, but most do not. As a line mechanic, I have never seen a F/E unclog a lav at 30,000 ft, help with an engine change, or inspect my work. (even as a rookie) This is not ment to bash F/E's. I can't blame them for not wanting to unclog a lav. I personally like the older style A/C, but when they are gone, so will the F/E.

    User currently offlineMriya225 From French Polynesia, joined Nov 2011, 0 posts, RR: 0
    Reply 12, posted (14 years 3 months 3 days 9 hours ago) and read 2284 times:

    I've never seen a flight engineer unclog the lav - period. I've seen line guys do it & I've seen ground handlers try to do it - but never a flight engineer.

    The engine change was only one of several major repairs performed out on cargo row at DIA (old gate 13) by ATI F/E's and flightline A&P's.

    The inspections never seemed to be second guessing the line work - it always looked good natured and helpful. The F/Es seemed to have more of a mentoring relationship with these guys who were a thousand miles from the HUB, still green, and trying to make the best of things without a hangar, proper equipment or consistent guidance.


    User currently offlineAaron atp From United States of America, joined Mar 2000, 533 posts, RR: 2
    Reply 13, posted (14 years 3 months 3 days 9 hours ago) and read 2272 times:

    Since you are throwing punches, my "slack-jawed exasperation" is a product of your blatant over glorification of the flight engineer's role.

    Let's take our archetypical modern airliner: Both the pilots hold Flight Engineer certificates, as does every other ATP I personally know. It is required that one member of the crew must hold a current FE cert in any plane over 80,000lb GTOW. The integrated modular avionics system produce is fault tolerant and fault safe, if a device fails, there exists adequate redundancy to continue safe flight without need for inflight repairs or even inflight diagnosis; because aside from the data recorder, the parameters of the flight are logged by the modern day BITE, to accompany any fault codes that are produced by the equipment. So what is the FE going to tell the mechanics other than what they can read for themsleves?

    The third crewman you propose in this airliner would only be presented the information produced by the computer. FE instinct isn't as relevant as it was in an old 727 environment. All of the exact same data that the FE witnesses in flight can be recalled in raw format on the ground. Besides, time-critical data is brought to the pilots attention automatically

    Maintenance control on the ground is certainly adequate, and it isn't the FE's duty to sign off repairs made by unqualified personnel. Do you think that pilots are incapable of a thorough preflight inspection? How many incidents per year do you think a dedicated FE could prevent for a major 121 operator?


    Do you really think it is cost beneficial to have a flight engineer? In other words, will their job increase profit margins for the company? No. How many times is that theoretical 777 FE going to save the company tens of thousands of dollars by helping line mechanics? None.

    I realize that the ordinary pilot doesn't have "FE experience" or an A&P license, but I don't think it would be easy to find/keep people with those qualifications in that job, given today's gold rush for pilots.

    Does my panel give me the info I need to perform safe operations? yes.


    As for you cynicism regarding the lack of need for pilots, I invite you to read my posts on the topic...
    http://www.airliners.net/discussions/general_aviation/read.main/215955/



    aaron


    User currently offlineMriya225 From French Polynesia, joined Nov 2011, 0 posts, RR: 0
    Reply 14, posted (14 years 3 months 3 days 6 hours ago) and read 2264 times:

    Throwing punches, eh?... Not yet darlin', not yet.  

    Please re-read my first post (which is the one you responded to) and point out my "blatant over-glorification" of flight engineers, humor me. It was, at one time, a simple question regarding the outlook for flight engineers in general. Your memory seems to be conveniently selective; if you look again you'll see that it was only after you made a point of flippantly debasing the F/E role and taunting me to engage:

    "Perhaps you can give me insight on why you think they could be cost-effective?"

    that I even decided to reply. I aim to please.

    I don't know why you bothered with the "in flight" scenarios, when I'd previously conceded that once you're airborne - there's probably not a hell of a lot an F/E or a heavily fortified avionics unit can do to fix the problem.
    I'm happy for you that you're in an environment where the maintenace is always available and adequate - count yourself lucky! There are plenty of pilots flying around out there who would welcome the luxury of having any mechanic on the block when they arrive - much less an adequate one.
    Where, in any of my messages do you read into them the implication that pilots are incapable of performing a thorough pre-flight? What I said is that no panel can do it.
    How can you possibly claim to know that an F/E will never save an operator money by helping out on the line? Over the course of a year, tens of thousands could turn out to be a grossly conservative estimate, for all you know. Again, I wonder how you managed to arrive at the conclusion that an F/E could not ultimately increase profit margins - do you have some kind of longitudinal data to back that claim up, or are you just hoping it'll wash?

    In answer to your question - Yes; I do believe that having a flight engineer as part of the flight crew is ultimately cost beneficial. An ounce of prevention... If it makes you feel good somehow to mistake my spirited argument in favor of keeping all qualified people in the cockpit, for fiscal foolishness - go right ahead. I can cozy up to the idea that you're displeased with my desire to see the responsibilities distributed equally among the flightcrew. To want for better than to overburden people because we have a little technology that can do 70% of what the F/E used to do. What a bargain - the company saves a few bucks and all you have to do is pick up another fiftren percent of the load - hey, who do they thank first?

    Avionics is groovy - but that science is nowhere near as valuable as a well trained and experienced human mind. I'm willing to bet that even you would have to admit there's merit in that.




    User currently offlineAaron atp From United States of America, joined Mar 2000, 533 posts, RR: 2
    Reply 15, posted (14 years 3 months 3 days 4 hours ago) and read 2245 times:

    aren't you just a little bit too patronizing?

    >>>Again, I wonder how you managed to arrive at the conclusion that an F/E could not ultimately increase profit margins - do you have some kind of longitudinal data to back that claim up, or are you just hoping it'll wash?

    I think the burden of proof to disprove that fact lies with you. A quick look at the number of modern narrow-body airliners with two person crews is the proof I bring with me in this 'corporative' cost-cutting world. Maybe I didn't major in operations research, but I think the trend was caused by efficiency studies, certainly not by a lack of qualified personnel to fill the third seat.


    >>>re-read my first post (which is the one you responded to) and point out my "blatant over-glorification" of flight engineers, humor me

    Don't semantics get tiresome? My second post was a response to your post on 2000-07-26 at 10:57:26. I believe the fourth paragraph in its entirety meets the litmus test for over-glorification. If I have selective memory, you are guilty of selective reading. I don't think I'd read your next post when I posted my second response.


    >>>If it makes you feel good somehow to mistake my spirited argument in favor of keeping all qualified people in the cockpit, for fiscal foolishness - go right ahead. I can cozy up to the idea that you're displeased with my desire to see the responsibilities distributed equally among the flightcrew

    I wouldn't mind having less work in the cockpit, I've logged more than enough single pilot IFR to last a lifetime. I concede that the FE would be expected to do more than fill in a coloring book in the jumpseat, but I think restoring a third person to the cockpit is a flawed idea from its conception.

    < bitch >
    Why not restore the navigator and add a radar operator to make the flight safer, and by spreading the workload the job will be less stressful for all. We'll also add another engine to reduce the workload on the other 2; it will also increase redundancy and therefore be conducive to safety.
    < /bitch >

    See the absurdity there? I understand that there is a point at which adding crewmembers and engines becomes inefficient. That point is known as the point of maximum returns. It is my professional opinion, as well as my CEO's, that 2 engines and 2 crewmembers in the cockpit is optimal. Increasing the number of either results in diminishing returns.


    >>>because we have a little technology that can do 70% of what the F/E used to do. What a bargain - the company saves a few bucks and all you have to do is pick up another fiftren percent of the load

    Have pilots' salaries increased since the 3 place cockpit of the 727 was modern? Yes. Is it because the mega-corporations were generous? Hell No. I'm in a union, and very happy with the bargaining power it possesses.


    >>>science is nowhere near as valuable as a well trained and experienced human mind

    I think we both know that computers only run the processes they are programmed to do. I must have more faith in mine.



    I suppose we'll just have to be at odds on this one.





    aaron


    User currently offlineMriya225 From French Polynesia, joined Nov 2011, 0 posts, RR: 0
    Reply 16, posted (14 years 3 months 3 days 3 hours ago) and read 2247 times:

    Yes, semantics do get tiresome - but that business you're refering to - that isn't semantics, it's revisionist history.

    Re: bitch.../bitch; yes, I do see the absurdity there and I'm just glad it wasn't my logic that gave birth to it.

    So, if we're through trading body blows, we'll agree to disagree and move on.




    User currently offlineGunny301 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
    Reply 17, posted (13 years 11 months 4 weeks 1 day 2 hours ago) and read 2158 times:

    Anyone truly interested in this topic should also refer to the topic which is hyperlinked below !

    http://www.airliners.net/discussions/general_aviation/read.main/316595/


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