LY744 From Canada, joined Feb 2001, 5536 posts, RR: 11 Posted (4 years 10 months 1 day 4 hours ago) and read 6231 times:
I'll try to put my question as concisely as possible:
In the 1960's, what was so different about the DC-9 and the 737 that allowed them to be flown by only two pilots, while other aircraft, including widebodies that were introduced in the years following (747/DC-10/L1011/A300) stuck with the 3-man crew.
I suppose I should also mention smaller "pre-regional" and business jets such as the Jetstar, Falcon 20, BAe-125 etc. that were introduced around the same time and were also flown by 2-person crews.
I am not aware of there being a major difference in the autoflight (A/P, A/T) systems of the 737/DC-9 and early widebodies, and other than the obvious smaller number of engines (and therefore Hydraulic systems I assume), I'm having a hard time figuring out how the 737/DC-9 are simpler to fly than their bigger brothers.
SlamClick From United States of America, joined Nov 2003, 10062 posts, RR: 71 Reply 1, posted (4 years 10 months 1 day 4 hours ago) and read 6228 times:
Automation in the aircraft mechanical systems (electrical supply, fuel, pneumatic, hydraulic etc.) was the biggest factor as far as the plane goes.
Add weakening of the unions which had the effect of relaxing the "fireman on a diesel locomotive" syndrome and the flight engineer was replaced by a relay sort of thing.
There is not much about FLYING the planes that is easier, but OPERATING them is definitely easier than operating the DC-6/7 or Connies etc. The 727 is not that much easier to operate but by the time the DC-9 and the 737 were being designed they had carried system automation just a bit farther forward. Fact is, some carriers, because of their union contracts did operate the 737 with a crew of three for a while. There was just not much for the third person to do (unlike the 727 where there is nothing for the second person but lots for the third person to do)
Happiness is not seeing another trite Ste. Maarten photo all week long.
TheSonntag From Germany, joined Jun 2005, 3347 posts, RR: 30 Reply 5, posted (4 years 10 months 21 hours ago) and read 6141 times:
Maybe this is a stupid question, but why did the 727 keep its 3-men cockpit until the end? It was designed only a few years before the 737, and was later launched as a 727-200 and Advanced 727-200 model.
Why does the 727 really need the engineer, what differs it from the 737 (apart from needing one engine more)?
Jetstar From United States of America, joined May 2003, 1523 posts, RR: 10 Reply 7, posted (4 years 10 months 20 hours ago) and read 6112 times:
If I remember correctly, FAA regulations at the time the 727 was designed, that aircraft with 3 or more engines required a flight engineer. I also think there was an 80,000 MTW or more limit that required a flight engineer.
Quoting TheSonntag (Reply 5): Why does the 727 really need the engineer, what differs it from the 737 (apart from needing one engine more)?
Why did United and Western fly their 737’s with flight engineers? ALPA
Viscount724 From Switzerland, joined Oct 2006, 21465 posts, RR: 24 Reply 8, posted (4 years 10 months 19 hours ago) and read 6096 times:
Following excerpt on this subject from a 1991 history of Boeing titled "Legend & Legacy" by Robert Serling who has written many excellent books on airlines and aviation.
"The DC-9 head start was a killer for Boeing's sales force, yet it
wasn't the only handicap Boeing's new baby faced in its adolescence.
A deep hole was dug by the men who would fly the plane, and unwittingly
it was Delta's pilots who handed their brethren the shovel that almost
buried the 737. When Delta bought the DC-9, it won an agreement from its
pilots that the cockpit be designed for a two-man crew, eliminating the
flight engineer. This was permissible under an FAA regulation that
allowed any jet transport weighing less than 80,000 lbs to be flown by two
pilots. Both the original DC-9 and BAC-111 met the so-called '80,000-pound
rule,' heresy and anathema to the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA).
It could do nothing about the precedent Delta's pilots had set for the
DC-9, but the union began pressuring the FAA to change the regulation for
the 737, and at the same time warned US airlines planning to buy the
Boeing jet that future pilot contracts would specify a three-man crew for
"ALPA argued that with no flight engineer to help them, the pilots'
increased workload made it difficult to watch out for other traffic, thus
enhancing the chances for mid-air collisions, and also created more
danger during bad-weather landings. The union's case might have sounded
logical until one began wondering why a two-man crew was safe for the DC-9
and BAC-111, and not for the 737. Nevertheless, the FAA changed its
regulations to the extent of requiring Boeing to prove that the 737
could be operated safely with two pilots. The irony was that once having
been certificated for a two-man crew, three subsequent larger DC-9
models weighing far more than 80,000 pounds also were automatically
certificated for two pilots, but not the 737.
"Thus the baby Boeing's late start was saddled with a further sales han-
dicap--many airlines considering the 737 bought the DC-9 instead,
unwilling to add the expense of a third cockpit crew member who literally
was nothing except an extra set of eyeballs. United and Western,
after arbitration, agreed to a three-man crew, although that third
man was a classic case of feather-bedding--or 'feather birding,' as
then-FAA administrator Najeeb Halaby expressed it.
"Western's pilots referred to the extra crew member as GIBs, for 'Guy
in Back,' but abandoned this nomenclature hastily when a pilot ran
across the word 'gib' in a dictionary and discovered it meant castrated
"Lew Wallick once asked a Piedmont captain what the third crew member did,
riding in a jump seat just behind the pilots, unable to reach any controls.
"'He doesn't do much,' the captain admitted. 'He sits back there and
spills coffee in my brainback [nickname for the briefcase holding air-
way maps and aircraft manuals]. But come next summer, he's gonna mow my
"Brien Wygle was in charge of the 737's flight test program, and worked
with engineering to design a cockpit whose workload would put the least
possible stress on two pilots.
"'We went to a lot of trouble proving this out,' Wygle said. 'We didn't
have much computer input--they weren't as sophisticated then--but we
designed a simple cockpit management system because the FAA told us that
when we came up for certification, they were going to be very tough. They
were under great pressure from ALPA, which wanted the FAA to say that
the 737 needed a flight engineer or any third crew member.'
"'The FAA made us jump through a lot of hoops,' Wygle recalled. 'There
was an unprecedented amount of testing, all kinds of simulated engine and
systems failures, low-visibility approaches and landings, and even test
flights through high-density traffic on the eastern seaboard. And to the
FAA's credit, they ruled that the 737 was completely safe to fly with a
"The ruling, however, couldn't recoup the sales Boeing had already lost
because of the ALPA campaign; the union itself eventually came around to
admitting that a sophisticated, well-designed cockpit didn't need a flight
engineer. And in one sense, ALPA did the 737 a
favor. It forced Boeing to improve the plane to the point where it would
be so good it didn't matter how many men were in the cockpit."
HAWK21M From India, joined Jan 2001, 31201 posts, RR: 58 Reply 10, posted (4 years 10 months 14 hours ago) and read 6053 times:
The Master caution system of the B737 enabled reduction of the crew workload & the elimination of the 3rd person.However read some place that in the initial years there was a 3rd person as crew on board in flying/monitoring capacity too.
So, was it only because of this FAA 80,000lb rule that the first generation widebodies were made with 3-person crews? After all, their manufacturers surely took advantage of the innovations (system automation) that they introduced on their respective narrowbodies in the 60's, and implemented them in the 747/DC-10/L1011/A300 as well?
SlamClick From United States of America, joined Nov 2003, 10062 posts, RR: 71 Reply 12, posted (4 years 10 months 8 hours ago) and read 6016 times:
Quoting Jetstar (Reply 7): I also think there was an 80,000 MTW or more limit that required a flight engineer.
Yes, the rule was the "reason" and that is why I don't like to address questions that start with "why" in this forum or any other conversation. I was addressing only functionality that made it possible for the plane to be operated by two pilots.
On a side note, the early 737s usually had a basic operating weight approaching seventy thousand pounds. If you add a modest ten thousand pound fuel load for a very short flight with reserves, your payload would be well below that of a DC-3. For this reason I doubt that the first generation of two-pilot jets were ever operated at 80K. The ten-series DC-9 for example had a MGTOW of 90700 lbs and a max landing weight of 81700.
Quoting Viscount724 (Reply 8): spills coffee in my brainback [nickname for the briefcase holding air-
way maps and aircraft manuals].
I love journalists. The guy says "brain BAG" and he hears "back" What the hell would that mean? Brainbag is a bag holding your "brain" your information. So he has a quote that makes absolutely no sense at all and he goes ahead and prints it without veryifying.
It's why I don't read aviation magazines anymore. (Or aviation books published in England for that matter. For some reason they have third-world editorial standards there and a mistake per page is not uncommon.)
Happiness is not seeing another trite Ste. Maarten photo all week long.
LongHauler From Canada, joined Mar 2004, 4275 posts, RR: 36 Reply 14, posted (4 years 10 months 6 hours ago) and read 5986 times:
A lot of interesting things were occurring with respect to pilot crew compliments before the DC-9, BAC-111 and B737.
When Trans-Canada Air Lines was selecting aircraft, they specified a few modifications allowing a two man crew. The most obvious was the Viscount. It did not require the third pilot/radio operator of the early BEA Viscounts. Also, the Vanguard. Two man crew at TCA/Air Canada with a three man crew at BEA.
I recall talking with a retired Air Canada Captain, who mentioned that it was TCA's decision to man the Vanguard with two pilots vice three that caused his lay off for two years. Ironically enough, during that time he flew as a third pilot (I don't recall what BEA called that position) for BEA on the Vanguard!
Add to that, the DC-4M2 North Star. When flying trans-border or domestic operations in the 1950s it was flown at TCA as a two man crew!
I think the most bizarre was the DC-8. When TCA was negotiating with Douglas, the cockpit design was to be built on a two man crew concept! The First Officer seat was to be placed on longer rails, allowing it to go back to the Second Officer panel for adjustment. Transport Canada finally stepped in and would not allow it. But, cockpit design for TCA DC-8s had already passed a point of construction that made TCA/Air Canada's cockpits different from any other airline's.
And, it also made the aircraft difficult to sell when the time came, as the aircraft did not match any other DC-8s around.
Never gonna grow up, never gonna slow down .... Barefoot Blue Jean Night