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Hand Flying (Auto-Pilot In-operable) Question  
User currently offlineLIFFY1A From Ireland, joined Jan 2008, 120 posts, RR: 0
Posted (6 years 4 months 4 weeks 1 day 7 hours ago) and read 7906 times:

I have an uncle that is a retired pilot. One of his aircraft types was the DC-8. He told me that on many occasions he would have to hand-fly the aircraft as the auto-pilot was in-operable, between himself and the first officer taking 15 minute turns as being the Pilot Flying. He flew cargo DC-8's so passenger comfort was not exactly a priority. My question is basically to pilots, does your airline allow aircraft to go up if theres no auto-pilot?

37 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineWILCO737 From Greenland, joined Jun 2004, 9031 posts, RR: 75
Reply 1, posted (6 years 4 months 4 weeks 1 day 7 hours ago) and read 7902 times:
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Quoting LIFFY1A (Thread starter):
My question is basically to pilots, does your airline allow aircraft to go up if theres no auto-pilot?

Yes, it is allowed! BUT: it reduces the maximum allowable duty time a lot! Because it is more exhausting than using autopilot! You are not allowed to fly within RVSM airspace anymore! Means: below FL280 or above FL410! So it will cost a lot of extra fuel... You are not able to fly autmated approaches and landings (of course, how without autopilot) means: no CAT II/III anymore... But according to the MEL it is allowed...

WILCO737 (MD11F)
 airplane 



It it's not Boeing, I am not going.
User currently offlineSoku39 From United States of America, joined Nov 2000, 1797 posts, RR: 9
Reply 2, posted (6 years 4 months 4 weeks 1 day 7 hours ago) and read 7902 times:

Yes you can fly without an autopilot, as long as the autopilot is a MELable (minimum equipment list, this lets you fly with non essential, and non type certificated items inoperable) item at your airline, and for that aircraft.

However as RVSM (reduced vertical seperation minimums) in Class A airspace are starting to be introduced. You would not be able to use those airways as use of the autopilot is required.

So the answer is, yes, if the autopilot is a MELable item, and you are not in RVSM airspace, an airliner can have an inoperable autopilot, and still be dispatched for flight.



The Ohio Player
User currently offlineAogdesk From United States of America, joined Jun 2004, 935 posts, RR: 3
Reply 3, posted (6 years 4 months 4 weeks 1 day 6 hours ago) and read 7884 times:

Make sure to note the look on the flight crews faces when you mention that the A/P is MEL'd. You'll get anything from a slight grunt to a full fledged whine..........understandable when its a long flight, quite annoying when its a 30-45 min hop.  Wink

User currently offlineFlighty From United States of America, joined Apr 2007, 8535 posts, RR: 2
Reply 4, posted (6 years 4 months 4 weeks 1 day 6 hours ago) and read 7880 times:

I don't even like long car trips without cruise control. An airplane takes considerably more work...

User currently offlineTb727 From United States of America, joined Jun 2005, 1597 posts, RR: 9
Reply 5, posted (6 years 4 months 4 weeks 1 day 6 hours ago) and read 7878 times:

Depending on the individual airplane I fly, sometimes it's easier to hand fly since the autopilots are about 40 years old and a little finicky. Some of them rock though and will fly an ILS down to the bottom not that we let it, it's hard to watch it and not do it for me. It sucks but I've done 6 leg/4000 mile days with no autopilot, it's no big deal. You just can't look out and sight see as much.

Our MEL if I recall, has the autopilot as a 120 day item. These particular aircraft aren't RVSM'd but I am pretty sure if they were the A/P has to be working to go above FL280 in the US.

[Edited 2008-04-21 10:07:30]


Too lazy to work, too scared to steal!
User currently offlineWILCO737 From Greenland, joined Jun 2004, 9031 posts, RR: 75
Reply 6, posted (6 years 4 months 4 weeks 1 day 6 hours ago) and read 7877 times:
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Quoting Aogdesk (Reply 3):
Make sure to note the look on the flight crews faces when you mention that the A/P is MEL'd. You'll get anything from a slight grunt to a full fledged whine..........understandable when its a long flight, quite annoying when its a 30-45 min hop. Wink

 crazy  my face if I hear the A/P is inop! But actually I only had it once!!! 1815 flights and only one time was the A/P inop!
Was on the B737, never on the MD11 though...

WILCO737 (MD11F)
 airplane 



It it's not Boeing, I am not going.
User currently offlinePilotpip From United States of America, joined Sep 2003, 3150 posts, RR: 11
Reply 7, posted (6 years 4 months 4 weeks 1 day 5 hours ago) and read 7848 times:

Hand flying all day, at altitude sucks. It can be done, but it's not very efficient for the reasons listed above. With fuel getting so expensive it's not very practical to fly a jet in non-RVSM airspace all day in the US. Happens a lot on the 145 and sounds like it happened a lot when the 170 was new.

That said, I like hand flying when the workload is low. We've had that discussion already though.



DMI
User currently offlineLIFFY1A From Ireland, joined Jan 2008, 120 posts, RR: 0
Reply 8, posted (6 years 4 months 4 weeks 1 day 4 hours ago) and read 7817 times:

Thanks for the replies. Would it be a more uncomfortable ride for the passengers if the auto-pilots in-op?

User currently offlineWILCO737 From Greenland, joined Jun 2004, 9031 posts, RR: 75
Reply 9, posted (6 years 4 months 4 weeks 1 day 4 hours ago) and read 7811 times:
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Quoting LIFFY1A (Reply 8):
Would it be a more uncomfortable ride for the passengers if the auto-pilots in-op?

Well, depends how smooth you can control! But usually it's a little bumpier and less comfortable...  Wink

WILCO737 (MD11F)
 airplane 



It it's not Boeing, I am not going.
User currently offlineAviopic From Netherlands, joined Mar 2004, 2681 posts, RR: 41
Reply 10, posted (6 years 4 months 4 weeks 1 day 3 hours ago) and read 7796 times:



Quoting LIFFY1A (Thread starter):
My question is basically to pilots, does your airline allow aircraft to go up if theres no auto-pilot?

There is no simple Yes or No to this question.
First of all there is the MMEL(Manufacturers Minimum Equipment List), on top of that there might be Airline restrictions.
Then It depends on A/C type, configuration and what part of the system is failing.
The auto pilot is not a single box but consists out of many parts working together like Flight Control and Augmentation computers, Servo's, Actuators etc.....



The truth lives in one’s mind, it doesn’t really exist
User currently offlineEMBQA From United States of America, joined Oct 2003, 9364 posts, RR: 11
Reply 11, posted (6 years 4 months 4 weeks 1 day 2 hours ago) and read 7757 times:



Quoting LIFFY1A (Thread starter):
does your airline allow aircraft to go up if theres no auto-pilot?

Auto Pilot is an MEL items. Pilots hate it because it actually makes them work......



"It's not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog"
User currently offlineWILCO737 From Greenland, joined Jun 2004, 9031 posts, RR: 75
Reply 12, posted (6 years 4 months 4 weeks 1 day 2 hours ago) and read 7754 times:
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Quoting EMBQA (Reply 11):
Pilots hate it because it actually makes them work......

You say I don't work? how did you know that  bigthumbsup 

But I doubt any airline will send the aircraft airborne on a 12 hour long haul flight without autopilot! On short haul no big deal Happened to me as well, one day (4 flights) without A/P! it was actually fun... But sure it is more work than with the autopilot... Big grin

WILCO737 (MD11F)
 airplane 



It it's not Boeing, I am not going.
User currently offlineEMBQA From United States of America, joined Oct 2003, 9364 posts, RR: 11
Reply 13, posted (6 years 4 months 4 weeks 1 day 2 hours ago) and read 7742 times:

Quoting WILCO737 (Reply 12):
You say I don't work? how did you know that

I didn't say it would be fun.... Hand flying an MD-11 over the pond would suuuuuuuuuuuck. I had the chance to hand fly once on a ferry flight. The one thing I learned fast was not to do is chase the HSI.

[Edited 2008-04-21 14:07:30]


"It's not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog"
User currently offlinePoint8six From United Kingdom, joined Apr 2008, 94 posts, RR: 0
Reply 14, posted (6 years 4 months 4 weeks 1 day 2 hours ago) and read 7733 times:

Flew a B747-200 (pax version) manually most of the way from overhead Little Rock to London, after all 3 a/p's failed in the cruise. We took 20 mins each through the night and finished the flight with a practice Cat 3b autoland - the a/p re-engaged during descent! Not something I would like to do too often- very tiring but not too much deviation from crz alt. Strangely enough, no complaints from the stewardesses.  Wow!

User currently offlineWILCO737 From Greenland, joined Jun 2004, 9031 posts, RR: 75
Reply 15, posted (6 years 4 months 4 weeks 1 day 1 hour ago) and read 7706 times:
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Quoting EMBQA (Reply 13):
Hand flying an MD-11 over the pond would suuuuuuuuuuuck.

YOU BET!!!! The good old bitch  cloudnine 

On short haul it was ok! Sometimes I did a whole flight without A/P just for the fun of it! (if it wasn't in RVSM) and only on really short flights! Was fun Big grin

WILCO737 (MD11F)
 airplane 



It it's not Boeing, I am not going.
User currently offlineTb727 From United States of America, joined Jun 2005, 1597 posts, RR: 9
Reply 16, posted (6 years 4 months 4 weeks 21 hours ago) and read 7620 times:

Quoting LIFFY1A (Reply 8):
Thanks for the replies. Would it be a more uncomfortable ride for the passengers if the auto-pilots in-op?

Not if I am flying

Quoting Point8six (Reply 14):
Flew a B747-200 (pax version)

My neighbor flew for Tower Air back in the day and said they regularly had to fly JFK-Tel Aviv with all 3 A/P's inop and have to hand fly the whole flight.

I forgot about my crappiest flight just about ever with no autopilot. YIP-CYYT-LPAZ-LEPP-LPAZ-CYYT-BGR-JAX-YIP in a Learjet 36. That was a long 2 days down low under RVSM with a lot of water under us.

[Edited 2008-04-21 19:03:42]


Too lazy to work, too scared to steal!
User currently offlineSpeedbird2263 From Jamaica, joined Jul 2006, 470 posts, RR: 1
Reply 17, posted (6 years 4 months 3 weeks 2 days 22 hours ago) and read 7291 times:



Quoting Tb727 (Reply 16):
in a Learjet 36

To think I thought my 16hr weekend trip awhile back KTMB-KTLH-KPDK-KTLH-KMLB-KTMB in a 1972 C172 without auto-pilot and half the trip time in IMC was something of a major accomplishment  silly .



Straight'n Up 'N Fly Right Son ;)
User currently offlineStratosphere From United States of America, joined Sep 2007, 1653 posts, RR: 4
Reply 18, posted (6 years 4 months 3 weeks 20 hours ago) and read 7108 times:



Quoting Tb727 (Reply 5):
Our MEL if I recall, has the autopilot as a 120 day item.

WOW 120 days? The 2 US airlines I have worked for it is a 10 day item MAX.. In the case of nwa you would be hard pressed to get a pilot to take a DC-9 autopilot on MEL unless it was the roll mode only that was inop or some other fragment of the autopilot system like heading select. If it was the pitch channel FORGET IT. In fact this item is one of a few items that are in the pilots union contract like the APU or Autopressurization that can be refused..It used to piss me off when the capt would refuse an autopilot on a real short leg like MEM-BNA and leave a plane load of pax at the gate. I guess hand flying and having to manually trim would be work but I guess I understood it better when a pilot told me his main reason he would not take an aircraft with an inop A/P was the fear of "busting altitude". However, mechanics do not have the option of refusing a task like the pilots do. You think I like going up in a cherry picker to work on the tail in a driving rain? The only thing we can take issue with is if it was unsafe in some way..i.e high winds etc..



NWA THE TRUE EVIL EMPIRE
User currently offlineTb727 From United States of America, joined Jun 2005, 1597 posts, RR: 9
Reply 19, posted (6 years 4 months 3 weeks 19 hours ago) and read 7102 times:



Quoting Stratosphere (Reply 18):
In the case of nwa you would be hard pressed to get a pilot to take a DC-9 autopilot on MEL

When my dad was a mechanic at NW he had a DC-9 Captain refuse a DTW-FNT flight because the A/P was MEL'd. I think he ended up throwing a part at it and cleared it and let him figure out if it worked in the air. It's a 50 mile flight! I think the Captain was just trying to get home a little early not doing the DTW-FNT-DTW trip at the end of his day.



Too lazy to work, too scared to steal!
User currently offlinePhilSquares From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 20, posted (6 years 4 months 3 weeks 19 hours ago) and read 7090 times:



Quoting Stratosphere (Reply 18):


Quoting Tb727 (Reply 5):
Our MEL if I recall, has the autopilot as a 120 day item.

WOW 120 days? The 2 US airlines I have worked for it is a 10 day item MAX..

Ours is C, 10 days too, but you can't enter RVSM airspace with it MEL'd. So, it gets fixed ASAP.


User currently offlineTheGreatChecko From United States of America, joined Mar 2004, 1128 posts, RR: 2
Reply 21, posted (6 years 4 months 3 weeks 18 hours ago) and read 7083 times:

Yes, and the first thing I do is declare a preemptive emergency on the ground before departure, then I cry, and then change my pants because of the shock to the system that an inop autopilot causes.

Okay, so I'm a turboprop pilot, it's a pretty darn big one at that, but I have no problem flying with an INOP autopilot. The previous job had me doing 2.5 to 3 hour legs hand flown because we had no autopilot. Was it tiring, yeah, and it added some difficulty, but it was doable.

Call me crazy, but I enjoy hand flying my aircraft. Am I going to hand fly an ILS in low IFR on raw data just for fun? No, but I'm pretty confident I could do it if I had to. Of course, every aircraft is different and some lend themselves to hand flying more than others. However, as professional pilots we should be able to hand fly our planes without really getting all bent out of shape.

Last I checked most of us got into this to fly, not to program an FMS and monitor a computer. If I wanted to do that I could go work at the nearest nuclear plant and I'd probably get paid better.

Checko

[Edited 2008-04-28 21:50:59]


"A pilot's plane she is. She will love you if you deserve it, and try to kill you if you don't...She is the Mighty Q400"
User currently offlineTb727 From United States of America, joined Jun 2005, 1597 posts, RR: 9
Reply 22, posted (6 years 4 months 3 weeks 3 hours ago) and read 6988 times:



Quoting TheGreatChecko (Reply 21):
Last I checked most of us got into this to fly, not to program an FMS and monitor a computer. If I wanted to do that I could go work at the nearest nuclear plant and I'd probably get paid better.

I just had a guy they wanted me to train on the Falcon and he was one of those guys that had 2 type ratings but couldn't fly his way out of a bag. NO basic instrument skills. I had to start over on everything with him. I caught him cheating every time we were doing an approach in good weather. The one day I finally just flat out asked him if all he has ever done is fly an A/P and FMS, the answer was of course yes. That guy didn't make it and went on to jump ship at a couple more operators in a couple of months, he also seemed to be one of those the grass is greener on the other side kind of guys.

We do raw data stuff to the bottom all the time, why, because that's all we have, lol! I wouldn't trust a Lear FD further than I could throw it, they like to make up a phantom approach into a smoking hole 2 miles short of the runway and the only good Falcon FD's we have are on the ex-FedEx airplanes, all 2 of them on line right now, even then I am constantly weary of what it is gonna do next. They all work ok, maybe I am still not used to using them even after 4000 hours. Some day it will be nice to watch the plane do it, but I am glad to be getting a strong foundation for when that doesn't work that one day I really need it.



Too lazy to work, too scared to steal!
User currently offlineSaab2000 From Switzerland, joined Jun 2001, 1610 posts, RR: 11
Reply 23, posted (6 years 4 months 3 weeks 2 hours ago) and read 6974 times:

In my 4 years at my current company I have had the A/P deferred on two occasions. Both times we were lucky to have good weather with little turbulence. I am a huge autopilot junkie and normally have it on by 2000 feet AGL or so and thought it would be tough, but it's really not. At least not with the flight director, which is part of the autoflight system and gives commands electronically to the pilot, be it the person or the autopilot.

In both cases the other pilot and myself briefed the flight and how we would handle things a bit differently than normal, but really it was not a big deal. The first time was about 3 years ago on a longish (2 hours or so) flight and the most recent time was from CLT-HSV, not a very long flight, about 1 hour.

However.....

I did say that I probably would not have accepted the airplane if the weather had been poor. But saying that and doing it are two different things.

BTW, the autopilot is smoother than I am....  Big grin



smrtrthnu
User currently offlineLIFFY1A From Ireland, joined Jan 2008, 120 posts, RR: 0
Reply 24, posted (6 years 4 months 2 weeks 6 days 10 hours ago) and read 6920 times:

Another question, when pilots are doing their type rating, how much training do they do with the auto-pilot in-op?

25 LongHauler : A lot more often than on the line. Makes sense, why watch the simulator "flying itself". At AC, it is always the Captain's final decision whether to
26 Saab2000 : I cannot speak for other carriers, but at my own there is a fairly small amount of hand flying done, and for the most part training consists heavily
27 Tb727 : Depends on the plane. I never even looked at it on my type ride. Any monkey can fly a plane with an autopilot. It was briefed however by my DE on my
28 LIFFY1A : Whats an acceptable loss or gain of altitude during this turn?
29 Saab2000 : +/- 100 feet is acceptable, but it is not really good form. +/- 50 feet or less would be greatly preferred. The issue is that when you enter the turn
30 PGNCS : I can't address the MEL philosophy of NWA DC-9 Captains, but I have flown the DC-9 and other aircraft many times without the autopilot. Like others m
31 Mir : A 50 mile flight is likely to be more difficult than a 200 mile flight - a lot of things need to be done in a very short amount of time. -Mir
32 Tb727 : I'm not doubting that. Windsor to Detroit in a 727 is all a-holes and elbows when you don't have a short leg checklist apparently. This thread is pre
33 CosmicCruiser : To add to what WILCO737 said there's another thing to keep in mind. It's not the fact that hand flying "makes you work" but that it has one pilot TOT
34 CALPilot : Auto pilot (s) What many here have failed to mention is that most modern aircraft have more than one A/P. Large Boeing airplane come with 3 of them, t
35 WILCO737 : That is true. But it happens. I remember a day where we had to fly 3 flights all manually because something was wrong with the autopilots... Just rem
36 TheGreatChecko : While this is true, they often need all their air data sources to be working correctly and every one of the servos to work as well. So, if one air da
37 CanadianNorth : Airline I work for: B737s regularly use RVSM airspace so the autopilots are almost always working. HS748s haven't had an autopilot system installed fo
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