Sponsor Message:
Aviation Technical / Operations Forum
My Starred Topics | Profile | New Topic | Forum Index | Help | Search 
Flight Engineer Really Needed?  
User currently offlineSquid From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Posted (2 years 11 months 3 weeks 4 days 6 hours ago) and read 8276 times:

Hey Everyone,

I was just wondering if anyone would know this, but did the first generation of airliners, I.e. the 707, 727, 747-100, DC-8, DC-10, and L1011 really need a flight enginner? Or even the large props before them, i.e. the DC-6, DC-7, Lockheed 749, and 1049? Boeing did produce early 737's without the third seat, as well as Douglas and the DC-9. I was just curious if it was "really" needed or if it was a FAA weight and size issue or a union issue?

51 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineStarlionblue From Greenland, joined Feb 2004, 17039 posts, RR: 66
Reply 1, posted (2 years 11 months 3 weeks 4 days 6 hours ago) and read 8274 times:

For those props, definitely. Just starting the engines was quite the job, and they had to be constantly watched in flight. In flight shutdowns were also common. The Connie was notorious for them.

For the jets, I would say the F/E was necessary as well. Remember this was before digital engine control. A lot of data to be processed when it came to engines and other systems. Now it's all on a screen and run by computers. Then, the engineer was the computer.

737 and DC-9 came out later than 707. I think this was the start of the transition period. And a 747 is much more complex than a 737.



"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots."
User currently offlineC46 From United States of America, joined Feb 2011, 43 posts, RR: 0
Reply 2, posted (2 years 11 months 3 weeks 4 days 5 hours ago) and read 8253 times:

I thought Qantas initially kept the 3 crew layout with the B767 but I'm not sure if that was due to union demands - thought it was.

For the early jets yes, you needed the FE for what Starlionblue explained. Especially as well for the props. Remember too that way back then the navigator was a dedicated position as well. And still used for certian applications.


User currently offlineStarlionblue From Greenland, joined Feb 2004, 17039 posts, RR: 66
Reply 3, posted (2 years 11 months 3 weeks 4 days 4 hours ago) and read 8242 times:

Quoting C46 (Reply 2):
I thought Qantas initially kept the 3 crew layout with the B767 but I'm not sure if that was due to union demands - thought it was.

It was. The F/E panel was totally pointless.



"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots."
User currently offlinegemuser From Australia, joined Nov 2003, 5664 posts, RR: 6
Reply 4, posted (2 years 11 months 3 weeks 4 days 4 hours ago) and read 8218 times:

Quoting Starlionblue (Reply 3):
Quoting C46 (Reply 2):
I thought Qantas initially kept the 3 crew layout with the B767 but I'm not sure if that was due to union demands - thought it was.

It was. The F/E panel was totally pointless.

It was not QF. It was Ansett.

Gemuser



DC23468910;B72172273373G73873H74374475275376377L77W;A319 320321332333343;BAe146;C402;DHC6;F27;L188;MD80MD85
User currently offlinegemuser From Australia, joined Nov 2003, 5664 posts, RR: 6
Reply 5, posted (2 years 11 months 3 weeks 4 days 3 hours ago) and read 8212 times:

Quoting Squid (Thread starter):
I was just wondering if anyone would know this, but did the first generation of airliners, I.e. the 707, 727, 747-100, DC-8, DC-10, and L1011 really need a flight enginner? Or even the large props before them, i.e. the DC-6, DC-7, Lockheed 749, and 1049?

Short answer - YES. They were designed that way. The main reason:

Quoting Starlionblue (Reply 1):
A lot of data to be processed when it came to engines and other systems. Now it's all on a screen and run by computers

It was actually worse than StarlionBlue says. If you get a chance just look at all the dials presenting information to the pilot/co-pilot in a B707. (The former Air Force One at the Museum of Flight in Seattle, for example) The sheer number of instruments was mind boggling and there were as many, if not more at the FE station and yet more at the radio operators station and more at the navigators station. (QF operated 5 man crews on B707s until the end of B707 operations). It simply was not possible to shoe-horn that much information in front of the pilots using the technology of the time. Radios also had valves in the B707! That takes up room.

The other thing computers have done, as well as process data faster is to compress data and data display into ever smaller spaces.

Gemuser



DC23468910;B72172273373G73873H74374475275376377L77W;A319 320321332333343;BAe146;C402;DHC6;F27;L188;MD80MD85
User currently offlineStarlionblue From Greenland, joined Feb 2004, 17039 posts, RR: 66
Reply 6, posted (2 years 11 months 3 weeks 4 days 3 hours ago) and read 8194 times:

Quoting gemuser (Reply 4):
Quoting Starlionblue (Reply 3):
Quoting C46 (Reply 2):
I thought Qantas initially kept the 3 crew layout with the B767 but I'm not sure if that was due to union demands - thought it was.

It was. The F/E panel was totally pointless.

It was not QF. It was Ansett.

Gemuser

Oops. Brainfart! I even have pics.




"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots."
User currently offlineSEPilot From United States of America, joined Dec 2006, 6907 posts, RR: 46
Reply 7, posted (2 years 11 months 3 weeks 3 days 18 hours ago) and read 8018 times:

Quoting Starlionblue (Reply 1):
737 and DC-9 came out later than 707.

But they used the exact same level of technology. I disagree that the FE was ever needed on the jets; the 4 engined propliners did arguably need them (although the DC-4 didn't have one); but jets were far more reliable and required far less attention. The 744 had more efficient engines than the earlier 747's, but I don't think the control functions were much different, or had any more automation. The same parameters still had to be monitored, and the controls were pretty much the same. I don't think that 707/747/DC-8/DC-10/L-1011 FE's ever had much to do.



The problem with making things foolproof is that fools are so doggone ingenious...Dan Keebler
User currently offlinecanoecarrier From United States of America, joined Feb 2004, 2839 posts, RR: 12
Reply 8, posted (2 years 11 months 3 weeks 3 days 17 hours ago) and read 7994 times:

Quoting Squid (Thread starter):
Or even the large props before them, i.e. the DC-6, DC-7, Lockheed 749, and 1049?

A little off topic, but didn't the Super Connie and DC-6 have a Navigator as well as a FE?


View Large View Medium
Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © Suresh A. Atapattu
View Large View Medium
Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © Hans Domjan



From what I understand several types of Russian civil aircraft still require a FE and a Navigator. Here's a Navigator's position on the II-76.


View Large View Medium
Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © Viktor Laszlo - Budapest Aviation Photography



[Edited 2011-09-29 13:15:24]

[Edited 2011-09-29 13:18:06]


The beatings will continue until morale improves
User currently offlineShyFlyer From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 9, posted (2 years 11 months 3 weeks 3 days 17 hours ago) and read 7975 times:

Quoting SEPilot (Reply 7):
I don't think that 707/747/DC-8/DC-10/L-1011 FE's ever had much to do.

The F/E had a lot more to do than take care of the engines. Electrics, hydraulics, and pressurization all needed to be controlled and monitored.


User currently offlinebueb0g From United Kingdom, joined Jul 2010, 643 posts, RR: 0
Reply 10, posted (2 years 11 months 3 weeks 3 days 17 hours ago) and read 7965 times:

Quoting Squid (Thread starter):
but did the first generation of airliners, I.e. the 707, 727, 747-100, DC-8, DC-10, and L1011 really need a flight enginner?

Yes. The workload on the Captain and FO has high enough as it was, and it would have been more than dangerous to impose the task of acting as the F/E on them. F/E's also came in hugely handy not just during day-to-day operation but especially during emergencies - remember that on modern jets, one of the pilots can focus on comms and the actual flying while the other focuses on the emergency checklists; the systems generally take care of themselves, and don't require much more than a few button pushes to configure (not to say that flying an aircraft during an emergency is anywhere near simple or easy on a modern jet). On those older types everything is manual, and for instance whereas on modern a/c you can dump fuel with a press or two it was a laborious process under the old system. So yes, they were needed - it wasn't just for the unions.


Quoting canoecarrier (Reply 8):
From what I understand several types of Russian civil aircraft still require a FE and a Navigator. Here's a Navigator's position on the II-76.

Some even require a radio operator...



Roger roger, what's our vector, victor?
User currently offline747classic From Netherlands, joined Aug 2009, 2141 posts, RR: 14
Reply 11, posted (2 years 11 months 3 weeks 3 days 16 hours ago) and read 7951 times:

Quoting SEPilot (Reply 7):
I don't think that 707/747/DC-8/DC-10/L-1011 FE's ever had much to do.

Another arm chair pilot. Where did you get that information, did you ever made a (trans-ocean) flight (in the cockpit) in one of the early jets.

Several pilots couldn't even make the transistion from the piston to the jet age, because of the increased workload (time management, speed increased almost 100% and more complex systems) and retired early. Most pilots, operating these jets, were very glad to have a profesional F/E on board.
All mentioned jets were flown with a 3 man crew , with one man dedicated to the flying task and two men dealing with problem solving during abnormal procedures. A safe operation, in an analoque cockpit with only very limited automatisation.

Regards ,

Peter, doing nothing for 30 years on the "classic" 747.

[Edited 2011-09-29 14:26:16]


Operating a twin over the ocean, you're always one engine failure from a total emergency.
User currently offlinecanoecarrier From United States of America, joined Feb 2004, 2839 posts, RR: 12
Reply 12, posted (2 years 11 months 3 weeks 3 days 16 hours ago) and read 7932 times:

Quoting bueb0g (Reply 10):
Some even require a radio operator...

One has to think that goes back to the Soviet days where everyone had to have a job and they needed a crewmember with English fluency to talk to ATC?

Quoting 747classic (Reply 11):
Another arm chair pilot. Where did you get that information, did you ever made a (trans-ocean) flight (in the cockpit) in one of the early jets.

From the photos I've seen there seems to be quite a bit to keep track of before they automated a lot of those systems.

I'm surprised none of you caught the mini-bottle of Courvoisier on the II-76 FE station.

[Edited 2011-09-29 14:26:24]


The beatings will continue until morale improves
User currently onlinetb727 From United States of America, joined Jun 2005, 1597 posts, RR: 9
Reply 13, posted (2 years 11 months 3 weeks 3 days 15 hours ago) and read 7880 times:

Quoting SEPilot (Reply 7):
I don't think that 707/747/DC-8/DC-10/L-1011 FE's ever had much to do.

lol really? Did you ever look at the FE panel on any of those? It's not for show lol! Ask a DC-8 crew how easy it is to balance the fuel or even fuel the thing on the ground. Now I have heard that the L-1011 and A300 were a little easier to plumb but it's no 767 FE panel.

As 747classic has said and I have many times before, a 3 man crew is the way to go. I love it, especially when I have a good PFE back there.



Too lazy to work, too scared to steal!
User currently offlineScooter01 From Norway, joined Nov 2006, 1204 posts, RR: 8
Reply 14, posted (2 years 11 months 3 weeks 3 days 14 hours ago) and read 7866 times:
Support Airliners.net - become a First Class Member!

I just read a bit about the Boeing B-47, a pioneering aircraft for it's day, -near sonic speed, SIX jetengines etc.
But no flight-engineer in the 3-man crew. The pilot was the pilot, the co-pilot doubled as a tail-gunner and the navigator doubled as a bombardier.

Scooter01  



"We all have a girl and her name is nostalgia" - Hemingway
User currently offlinestratosphere From United States of America, joined Sep 2007, 1653 posts, RR: 4
Reply 15, posted (2 years 11 months 3 weeks 3 days 14 hours ago) and read 7836 times:

The Concorde absolutely needed an FE i have a two part video of the Concorde and its operation. The complexity of that airplane for sure required it...Now could todays technology if a similar supersonic passenger aircraft were developed do away with the FE? Probably...


NWA THE TRUE EVIL EMPIRE
User currently offlineStarlionblue From Greenland, joined Feb 2004, 17039 posts, RR: 66
Reply 16, posted (2 years 11 months 3 weeks 3 days 14 hours ago) and read 7833 times:

Three factors really, already mentioned but I'll summarize.
- Due to limited automation, the workload was MUCH higher in the 50s and 60s designs.
- Space contraints. Now one screen can hold tons of info. You can flick pages and drill down. All that had to be analog gauges and lights back in the day. No way you could cram that in front of the pilots.
- Miniaturization. A radio on the 707 was a big thing that used tubes. Now it's a tiny thing that uses semiconductors. Again, no way to cram it in there.

Pilots are quite busy today. But just as an example they can start the engines with more or less one button press. Back in the day it was a whole complex procedure which required monitoring a row of gauges and finicky adjustment.

Quoting bueb0g (Reply 10):
Quoting canoecarrier (Reply 8):
From what I understand several types of Russian civil aircraft still require a FE and a Navigator. Here's a Navigator's position on the II-76.

Some even require a radio operator...

I think that's because many pilots didn't speak English.

[Edited 2011-09-29 17:49:26]


"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots."
User currently offlinecanoecarrier From United States of America, joined Feb 2004, 2839 posts, RR: 12
Reply 17, posted (2 years 11 months 3 weeks 3 days 14 hours ago) and read 7832 times:

Last time I checked, the C-17 was the only US military transport that didn't carry a FE, as well. And, I think the C-130 still has a Navigator.

Quoting tb727 (Reply 13):
As 747classic has said and I have many times before, a 3 man crew is the way to go. I love it, especially when I have a good PFE back there.

I have a headache just looking at that picture.



The beatings will continue until morale improves
User currently offlineShyFlyer From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 18, posted (2 years 11 months 3 weeks 3 days 13 hours ago) and read 7814 times:

Quoting canoecarrier (Reply 17):
Last time I checked, the C-17 was the only US military transport that didn't carry a FE, as well.

The KC-135s have a crew of three: pilot, co-pilot, boom operator.
http://www.af.mil/information/factsheets/factsheet.asp?fsID=110

Quoting canoecarrier (Reply 17):
And, I think the C-130 still has a Navigator.

Some do, depending on the mission. Some -130s have F/Es, some don't (the J models for example).

The C-5 has two F/Es!


User currently offlineB747FE From Hong Kong, joined Jun 2004, 230 posts, RR: 4
Reply 19, posted (2 years 11 months 3 weeks 3 days 12 hours ago) and read 7760 times:

Quoting Squid (Thread starter):
Squid

The FE is the systems expert on board those aeroplanes.
In addition to handle his/her system panel; checklists; take off-cruise-landing data; weight & balance; pre & post flight inspections, he is also the "maintenance diagnostic computer" and an invaluable troubleshooting aid for the ground engineers.
Plus, is an extra set of trained eyes.

Quoting 747classic (Reply 11):
Quoting SEPilot (Reply 7):
I don't think that 707/747/DC-8/DC-10/L-1011 FE's ever had much to do.

Another arm chair pilot. Where did you get that information, did you ever made a (trans-ocean) flight (in the cockpit) in one of the early jets.

Outstanding reply 747classic. Thanks!!

Quoting tb727 (Reply 13):
As 747classic has said and I have many times before, a 3 man crew is the way to go. I love it, especially when I have a good PFE back there.

  

Regards,
B747FE



"Flying is more than a sport and more than a job; flying is pure passion and desire, which fill a lifetime"
User currently offlineHaveBlue From United States of America, joined Jan 2004, 2108 posts, RR: 1
Reply 20, posted (2 years 11 months 3 weeks 3 days 9 hours ago) and read 7710 times:

My roommate is a 747 first officer now and was a 747 FE for years before that. From his stories I can assure you his services were appreciated by the pilots before he ever become one (he was a pilot on L1011's before getting the FE job). Also if you read the transcript and narrative of UA flight 811 the FE was an indispensable asset to getting that 747 back down safely under those extraordinary circumstances.


Here Here for Severe Clear!
User currently offlinelowrider From United States of America, joined Jun 2004, 3220 posts, RR: 10
Reply 21, posted (2 years 11 months 3 weeks 3 days 5 hours ago) and read 7635 times:

Quoting Squid (Thread starter):
I was just curious if it was "really" needed

With the level of technology available on the 747 Classic, absolutely yes. I have had FE's head off problems before a red tabbed checklist was required.

Quoting SEPilot (Reply 7):
The 744 had more efficient engines than the earlier 747's, but I don't think the control functions were much different, or had any more automation.

Sorry, but that is not the case. The 744 is significantly more automated and while basic systems are similar, controls and practices are significantly different.



Proud OOTSK member
User currently offlineFabo From Slovakia, joined Aug 2005, 1219 posts, RR: 1
Reply 22, posted (2 years 11 months 3 weeks 3 days 2 hours ago) and read 7567 times:

Quoting SEPilot (Reply 7):
The 744 had more efficient engines than the earlier 747's, but I don't think the control functions were much different, or had any more automation.
Quoting 747classic (Reply 11):
Quoting tb727 (Reply 13):
Quoting B747FE (Reply 19):

Thank you guys for calling him out. I was going to do it myself, but it would sound silly from another armchair/virtual pilot.

Truth is, though, that the more I drill into the various classics in the sim - B707, B747classic, Tu-154, or lately A300, I respect the work of crew more and more, wondering how some dary say - I do the work of five in one - when sim flying, say, an Il-62.



The light at the end of tunnel turn out to be a lighted sing saying NO EXIT
User currently offlineMD11Engineer From Germany, joined Oct 2003, 14026 posts, RR: 62
Reply 23, posted (2 years 11 months 3 weeks 3 days 2 hours ago) and read 7567 times:

Quoting bueb0g (Reply 10):
Quoting canoecarrier (Reply 8):
From what I understand several types of Russian civil aircraft still require a FE and a Navigator. Here's a Navigator's position on the II-76.

Some even require a radio operator...

being both a licenced radio ham and aircraft maintenance engineer, I can say that today´s radios might be simple to operate (not requiring much attention from the pilots), but the old-style radios (especially on the HF bands) were much more sensitive and a skilled radio operator could fiddle with filters and setting to establish a communication link, which today´s automated radios won´t be able to do. E.g. he could use notch fliters or noise blankers to filter out interference. Also morse code transmissions can still be heard when voice transmission would long be drowned in the static background.
My amateur radio station is still very much like an old aircraft HF installation. There are many buttons and knobs to adjust settings and it is quite sensitive on reception, but it needs the operator´s full attention, unlike the modern pilot-operated HF radios.

Jan


User currently offlineSAAFNAV From South Africa, joined Mar 2010, 276 posts, RR: 1
Reply 24, posted (2 years 11 months 3 weeks 2 days 23 hours ago) and read 7517 times:

Quoting canoecarrier (Reply 17):
Last time I checked, the C-17 was the only US military transport that didn't carry a FE, as well. And, I think the C-130 still has a Navigator.

Generally speaking, all C-130's up to the J model carries a F/E and a Nav.
J models can also be fitted with a Nav module for example Search and Rescue/Special Ops missions.

In an emergencies, you will be glad for a F/E. One pilot flies, the rest sort out the emergency.
And I do believe (based on experience) that being a multi-crew aircraft commander is the best thing. You only take-off and land. The rest is basically done for you.
The only crew that really works during the whole flight is the F/E and Nav. I'm not joking or exaggerating.

Erich



On-board Direction Consultant
25 OldAeroGuy : I doubt the B-47 accident rate would be acceptable for a civil airliner.
26 stealthz : Something not mentioned, least I didn't see it. In the days of the long haul propliners through to the early jetliners, well into the widebody age, ma
27 canoecarrier : I suspect this is true. Many FEs started their careers as AMTs.
28 tb727 : Doesn't the US military require a navigator on board for anything over water with more than I want to say it was 50 or 100 passengers on board? I had
29 Post contains images Fabo : Just came across a picture of F/E station in a Yak-40. Not sure if FE is required to fly though. Some Tu-204 also have FE stations. Story behind it is
30 fly707 : I think six eyes are better than four.
31 Post contains images Fabo : Call me when you find yourself in Europe. I didn't have the guts to talk myself up front the first - and last - time I was in a 727
32 Viscount724 : All the early jets used on longhaul international routes also had navigators until the mid to late 1960s when most carriers began replacing them with
33 Max Q : The real first Generation jet transports were the Comet and Caravelle, followed a little later by the B707 and DC8's. The other Aircraft you quote ar
34 Post contains links canoecarrier : It's actually quite sad, FEs typically worked their way into the cockpit by being mechanics first. Although I never became a pilot or a mechanic I gre
35 Max Q : I agree it is a shame to see the FE's go, they were a vital asset in the cockpit. The grounding of the DC10's after 9-11 did force the remaining FE's
36 tdscanuck : I love having more eyes and hands on a flight deck but I think "vital asset" might be overstating it. The safety rate has consistently been going up,
37 Max Q : Disagree, technology has improved automation to the point where, if everything is working normally the workload for two Pilots is reasonable. Throw i
38 gemuser : The Qantas ones certainly did and did so until retirement in the 1970s. Not sure about the TAA & Ansett's, but would think so. Actually it was 5,
39 Max Q : Thanks for the correction gemuser, but that further illustrates my point, two Pilots can be overwhelmed in certain situations.
40 wn700driver : I remember my grandfather telling me this is how he retired "twice" from PA. IMS, he was hired on sometime in the late jurassic period as a navigator
41 tb727 : Yeah, we've got a bunch in their mid 70's! That's good and bad, I really hope I'm done flying by then lol.
42 Max Q : Well said and I could not agree more.
43 sprout5199 : WOW as an Electronic Tech, I havent heard tubes called valves in a looong time. But then again, I'm the only tech where I work that actually worked o
44 Post contains images gemuser : What are tubes? Full name: thermonic valves! Diffrent places different termiinology! Gemuser
45 Post contains images SAAFNAV : Nit-pick: Thermionic Valves Just had to start my day right. Cheers
46 Post contains links tb727 : After watching this, I bet if they had an FE it maybe wouldn't have happened and they probably wouldn't have had to go around twice...just saying... h
47 stratosphere : I hate to second guess any flight crew but this seems kinda sloppy. Maybe some extra training is needed here.
48 Post contains images don : In addition to the UPS 744, Swissair 111 crash is also a classic example for having a FE. In 747-1/2/300s Cockpit smoke / evacuation checklist which
49 Post contains links and images mandala499 : This video I think suits the above joke very well! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_4TRSYhrEJE FE's Lament... Clowns to the left of me, Jokers to the
50 don : Thanks, I forgot about about that youtube video. And of course the other advantage of having a FE, In a 3 crew cockpit, you never know who farted. (S
51 tb727 : Probably my favorite video on youtube. I made that song my ringtone for FE's lol.
Top Of Page
Forum Index

Reply To This Topic Flight Engineer Really Needed?
Username:
No username? Sign up now!
Password: 


Forgot Password? Be reminded.
Remember me on this computer (uses cookies)
  • Tech/Ops related posts only!
  • Not Tech/Ops related? Use the other forums
  • No adverts of any kind. This includes web pages.
  • No hostile language or criticizing of others.
  • Do not post copyright protected material.
  • Use relevant and describing topics.
  • Check if your post already been discussed.
  • Check your spelling!
  • DETAILED RULES
Add Images Add SmiliesPosting Help

Please check your spelling (press "Check Spelling" above)


Similar topics:More similar topics...
A310 w/ flight engineer station posted Mon Jun 27 2011 10:28:51 by Chamonix
Flight Engineer On Large Modern Day Airlines posted Sat May 7 2011 12:06:48 by penguins
Can Flight Engineer Be First Officer Or Captain? posted Mon Dec 29 2008 20:30:51 by Boeingdotcom
Logging Flight Time Help Needed posted Sat Jan 6 2007 19:32:31 by AirTran737
747 Flight Engineer, Who Makes The Job Now? posted Fri Sep 1 2006 17:51:25 by F.pier
Helicopter Flight Engineer? posted Tue Oct 25 2005 15:23:38 by Wrighbrothers
Flight Engineer Position posted Fri Jul 12 2002 04:05:11 by Flyitup
Check My Numbers, Help Really Needed. posted Thu May 16 2002 04:48:27 by Ejaymd11
What Does The Flight Engineer Do? posted Fri Jun 22 2001 00:37:51 by CYKA
B767 Flight Engineer posted Sat Apr 7 2001 18:18:01 by Tito

Sponsor Message:
Printer friendly format