swisskloten
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Is An Autopilot Landing Legal?

Thu Dec 30, 2004 5:47 pm

I know that there are some planes that have programming so sophisticated that pilots can switch on the autopilot and have the plane land itself. Where in the world would this be legal? Why would this be necessary? Although autopilot can make corrections, it's still important to keep an eye on the area in front of the plane so split-second corrections can be made. I'm sure the pilots are doing this and I'm sure they would be dead tired after a 10-hour flight but still, isn't it probably better to make it impossible to activate autopilot to land the plane? Are there any pilots out there who have done this before? I flew into Kloten one time and the fog was so thick that visibility was zero. Even when they touched down, I could not see the landing lights on the strip. Would the crew use autopilot if they felt it necessary in this situation?
 
jpetekyxmd80
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RE: Is An Autopilot Landing Legal?

Thu Dec 30, 2004 6:07 pm

Not only legal, but I believe it is mandatory to do every X number of cycles. They can be pretty nice, but supposedly the true greaser requires human touch!
The Best Care in the Air, 1984-2009
 
soaringadi
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RE: Is An Autopilot Landing Legal?

Thu Dec 30, 2004 6:12 pm

What Jepetek says is true...

Infact in some types of planes it would be "illegal" if you (the pilots) don't autoland the plane atleast once in a month.

Also I think that the number of autolandings differ from airline to airline according to their policies.

 Smile


If it ain't Boeing, I'm not going !
 
ZKSUJ
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RE: Is An Autopilot Landing Legal?

Thu Dec 30, 2004 6:21 pm

Yes they are legal.
Put it this way, would big corporations such as Boeing and Airbus promote Illegal operations by installing autoland on their aircraft?
 
caboclo
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RE: Is An Autopilot Landing Legal?

Thu Dec 30, 2004 6:40 pm

It's called a Category IIIC approach. It's designed for when the airport is fogged in. The Cat I approach minimums are 200 foot ceiling and 1800 feet to 1/2 mile visibility, depending on runway lighting. That's the standard ILS approach that all instrument pilots learn in primary training, using basic equipment. Then there is CAT II, and CAT III A, B, and C, each with progressively lower minimums. These obviously require special equipment, special training for the flight crews, and specific authorization for the particular airline. The procedure is to fly the approach on the autopilot down to the minimums, then procede with a manual landing if the field is in sight, with the exception of IIIC which has no minimums and is fully automated. These systems have improved over the years; I read somewhere that the 767 autolandings were pretty firm, but the T7's are much softer.
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HAWK21M
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RE: Is An Autopilot Landing Legal?

Thu Dec 30, 2004 6:50 pm

Autolanding is not only Legal but also Vital in Fogged conditions.
Out here Max is cat IIIA at Del.
regds
MEL
I may not win often, but I damn well never lose!!! ;)
 
PhilSquares
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RE: Is An Autopilot Landing Legal?

Thu Dec 30, 2004 7:02 pm

Swisskloten
The thing you have to remember is in modern aircraft, and I will use mine the 744, when you do an auto land there is more than one auto pilot flying. When you have the auto pilot engaged and arm the approach and subsequently intercept the Localizer and G/S, the system has gone through a very intensive self check. If there is any discrepancy, the aircraft degrades it self to either CATII or NO Auto Land.

Here at SQ, the aircraft have to have an auto land every 28 days. It is not uncommon to see them done about once a week. It is a log book entry and is tracked for each aircraft. If the auto land isn't satisfactory, you write it up.

Now if someone could only figure out how to clear the runway and get to the gate with 0/0
Fly fast, live slow
 
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HAWK21M
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RE: Is An Autopilot Landing Legal?

Thu Dec 30, 2004 7:13 pm

Now if someone could only figure out how to clear the runway and get to the gate with 0/0

 Smile
Common Feature at New Delhi around Fog season ie Dec-Jan.
At times the Aircrafts have to towed back veeeerrryyyy slowly.
regds
MEL
I may not win often, but I damn well never lose!!! ;)
 
FJWH
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RE: Is An Autopilot Landing Legal?

Thu Dec 30, 2004 8:57 pm

On the 11th of December I was on a BA flight from AMS to LGW.The landing was rough (thus nice). After we came to an almost complete stop the co-pilot (a woman BTW) announced certain things. One of those was: ...." and the plane landed it self".. She also said something more about the auto pilot but I forgot. Anyway the airport was all covered in fog so, obvious why they landed with autopilot.

FlightS in the next 3 months: MSP, PHX, MEM, NCE, TFS, BCN. All round trips from AMS
 
mhodgson
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RE: Is An Autopilot Landing Legal?

Fri Dec 31, 2004 2:23 am

I was on an AMM flight in 1998 (AMM761D ALC-BHX IIRC!), on a 757. The pilot announced we would be doing an automatic landing at Birmingham, before explaining it was something they had to do every so often.
No trees were harmed by this message. However, several million electrons were terribly inconvenienced
 
asteriskceo
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RE: Is An Autopilot Landing Legal?

Fri Dec 31, 2004 4:50 am

The runway, airplane, and pilot have to be rated in order to perform a CAT3 "auto-land". I believe it would be illegal if you tried one without all these three being rated.  Big grin
 
air2gxs
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RE: Is An Autopilot Landing Legal?

Fri Dec 31, 2004 5:54 am

Asteriskco, the operator (airline) must also be rated or approved to operate aircraft in a CAT II or III environment.
 
PhilSquares
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RE: Is An Autopilot Landing Legal?

Fri Dec 31, 2004 6:02 am

Just to clarify, you can do an auto land on any runway that has an ILS. We do it all the time. However, to do a CATII or CATIII, then the crew, aircraft and runway have to be CATII or CATIII qualified.

The fail operational on the "glass" aircraft is actually 3 auto pilots. If one fails, then you still have dual autopilot and CATII or no autoland status.

Fly fast, live slow
 
DeltaGuy
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RE: Is An Autopilot Landing Legal?

Fri Dec 31, 2004 6:26 am

On the 737, it's two autopilots....on the MD-80 series jets, it's just one autopilot actually on (there are two, just not on at the same time)

DeltaGuy
"The cockpit, what is it?" "It's the little room in the front of the plane where the pilot sits, but that's not importan
 
beechnut
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RE: Is An Autopilot Landing Legal?

Fri Dec 31, 2004 9:22 am

"What Jepetek says is true...

Infact in some types of planes it would be "illegal" if you (the pilots) don't autoland the plane atleast once in a month.

Also I think that the number of autolandings differ from airline to airline according to their policies."


It would not be "illegal" for the crew to not do their minimum # of autolands.

But it would de-certify them from CAT III operations.

Mike
 
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Starlionblue
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RE: Is An Autopilot Landing Legal?

Fri Dec 31, 2004 10:27 am

The procedure is to fly the approach on the autopilot down to the minimums, then procede with a manual landing if the field is in sight, with the exception of IIIC which has no minimums and is fully automated.

Well, not quite. IIIC is a vision category, not a landing method category. As Philsquares points out, landing with IIIC (0/0 viz) can be done but what is the point if you can't taxi to the gate.

Automated landings can done at all Cats. That is, if you autoland you autoland. You don't take over when the field is in sight. You can very well land manually even without the field in sight at the start of the approach, as long as minimums requirements are met.


And here is some more info (most of it stolen from old posts  Big grin )

Aviation - ILS Categories

xxx
Cat.I - 200 feet DH - 2,400 feet (or 1,800 feet) RVR
Metric: 800 metres of 550 meters RVR...
xxx
Cat II Restricted - 150 feet DH - 1,600 feet RVR
metric: 500 metres RVR
xxx
Cat II - 100 feet DH - 1,200 feet RVR
Metric: 350 metres RVR
xxx
Cat.IIIa - 700 feet RVR - no DH (alert height generally 50 feet)
Metric: 250 meters RVR
xxx
Cat.IIIb - 600 feet RVR - no DH (alert height generally 35 feet)
Metric: 175 metres RVR
xxx
Cat.IIIc - zero ceiling, zero visibility - "blind" landing...

RVR is Runway Visual Range, basically a distance in feet that the pilot can expect to see forward in his airplane.


The ILS equipment at the airport must be certified for it, as well as aircraft type (actually individual aircraft) and crew have to be certified.


Alert Height (AH) is not like a Decision Height (DH) -
At "DH" (obtained from radio altimeter for Cat.II) you have to make a DECISION to land or go-around...
xxx
In Cat.III operations, there is no DH... but you have to make a decision to land based on "what you see"... pilots find the DH "decision" very convenient for Cat.II, but did not exist for Cat.III...
xxx
So in "pratical operations", the AH is used somewhat like a DH, but is not regulatory. In other terms, we expect to "see the runway" at that point... which is about 50 feet radio altimeter, just about where the runway threshold is located, in Cat.IIIa minimums. In Cat.IIIb, happens at about 35 feet...
xxx
Many 747 are equipped for Cat.IIIa operations (not Cat.IIIb), although most of the "Classic" 747s (with 3 autopilot channels) have the LRCU that is required for Cat.IIIb... LRCU = landing roll control unit... keeps the nose wheel on the center line, using the localizer...
"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots." - John Ringo
 
Brick
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RE: Is An Autopilot Landing Legal?

Fri Dec 31, 2004 1:24 pm

Several months ago while on a United flight I heard our flight crew advise ATC that we were going to do an autoland arriving into Denver. It was one of the smoothest A320 landings I have ever experienced...

After the flight I chatted with the first officer. He said at United they have to do one at least once every 30 days.

Mark
A noble spirit embiggens the smallest man...
 
LFutia
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RE: Is An Autopilot Landing Legal?

Fri Dec 31, 2004 1:28 pm

i feel stupid asking but may i ask why you must auto land 1x a month even if you have good weather everyday for a month.
Leo/ORD -- Groetjes uit de VS! -- Heeft u laatst nog met KLM gevlogen?
 
MD11Engineer
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RE: Is An Autopilot Landing Legal?

Fri Dec 31, 2004 2:14 pm

It is callled a flight confidence check, you´ll do an autoland in good weather conditions, to make sure that everything works as it should.

To be certified for CAT 3B approaches, the runway has to certified (ILS and everything), the aircraft, the pillots, the airline needs to have a special CAT 3 maintenance program running, with especially certified mechanics to work on and test the autopilot systems.

During an autoland, depending on the aircraft, there are several autopilots in action, e.g. on the B757 there are three independent autopilots steering the plane in parallel, each with it´s own sensors (IRU, ILS receiver, radio altimeter, air data computer...) and outputs (each has it´s own servo for each of the primary flight controls. From 1500´ AGL down, the busses will split and each autopilot will have it´s own independent power supply. Together with the autothrottle computer they´ll fly the plane until touchdown and runout. Braking will then be done automatically with the auto speedbrakes system and autobrakes, only the thrust reversers and flaps will have to be operated by hand. The autopilots also crosscheck each other.

The MD11 uses two flight control computers (FCCs), but each box has two seperate channels, which control each other. Each FCC has it´s own power supply, as well as independent inputs and outputs.

Spare parts have to be CAT 3b certified, this means especially bench tested. After maintenance on the autoland system, the whole system has to be checked and tested by a certified mechanic to upgrade the airplane to CAT 3b s
status again.


Jan
Je Suis Charlie et je suis Ahmet aussi
 
FrndlySkys777
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RE: Is An Autopilot Landing Legal?

Fri Dec 31, 2004 4:04 pm

Like everyone else said above, an autoland is legal. Another factor why pilots don't use the autoland all the time would be to maintain "currency." I know in the US that Federal Air Regulations state that pilots must perform landings on their own every so often. Airlines may also choose to adapt tougher standards. Thus the reason why autolands don't occur often.

In fact in my logbook there is acutally a section where you record the number of landings you make.

Regards,
FrndlySkys777
 
jeb94
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RE: Is An Autopilot Landing Legal?

Fri Dec 31, 2004 4:19 pm

Correct me if I'm wrong but isn't Cat III a crew certification? Thus, a different pilot and F/O combo, though either or both might be Cat III certified, aren't authorized for Cat III approaches as they aren't certified as a team. I've worked for two airlines, neither being Cat III certified, the 1st was Cat II and the current is only Cat I.
 
PhilSquares
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RE: Is An Autopilot Landing Legal?

Fri Dec 31, 2004 4:28 pm

No, there is no "crew" certification. As long as each crewmember is certified, then they are authorized to conduct CAT III apporoaches. Assuming all other requirements are met.
Fly fast, live slow
 
jeb94
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RE: Is An Autopilot Landing Legal?

Fri Dec 31, 2004 4:44 pm

Is that for US airlines?
 
aa777jr
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RE: Is An Autopilot Landing Legal?

Fri Dec 31, 2004 4:46 pm

Not only is it legal, it's used more often than you think.
A liberal is a man who is right most of the time, but he's right too soon.
 
PhilSquares
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RE: Is An Autopilot Landing Legal?

Fri Dec 31, 2004 4:48 pm

Jeb94,

I can't think of any regulatory body that has any requirements for a "crew" certification. In reality it's too unworkable.

I know the FAA/JAA/CAAS/DGAA/KMOT have no requirments.
Fly fast, live slow
 
soaringadi
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RE: Is An Autopilot Landing Legal?

Sat Jan 01, 2005 12:46 am

***"It would not be "illegal" for the crew to not do their minimum # of autolands.

But it would de-certify them from CAT III operations."***


Yeah that is what I kind of meant.
If it ain't Boeing, I'm not going !
 
lnglive1011yyz
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RE: Is An Autopilot Landing Legal?

Sat Jan 01, 2005 4:02 am

Here's a question for you --

For all us people who don't work in the industry, do we have a listing of airports (major ones) that are cat iiic certified? (or at least, what runways are?)

I live here in YYZ, and I'm wondering if it has the capability?

Thanks!

1011yyz
Pack your bags, we're going on a sympathy trip!
 
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Starlionblue
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RE: Is An Autopilot Landing Legal?

Sat Jan 01, 2005 4:32 am

I can't think of any regulatory body that has any requirements for a "crew" certification. In reality it's too unworkable.

No kidding. In large organisations you may work with a different pilot every few flights.


For all us people who don't work in the industry, do we have a listing of airports (major ones) that are cat iiic certified? (or at least, what runways are?)

No list, but I can tell you that CAT IIIC is pretty rare. If you have zero visibility, they would have to tow the aircraft off the runway.

There are several projects in the works to make 0/0 taxiing possible, and the technology has been tested. However, given how most airports have 0/0 viz only in the most extreme conditions, the economics are currently not workable.

And before you ask, GPS is not precise enough to taxi a plane. Any fudge larger than about a meter would entail hitting the finger, other vehicles, putting wheels in the grass...
"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots." - John Ringo
 
by188b
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RE: Is An Autopilot Landing Legal?

Sat Jan 01, 2005 4:37 am

I was on a First Choice a321 LGW-IBZ, it was the smoothest landing i had ever had on a aircraft and the captain announced over the pa that the autopilot had landed the craft.
next flights : BD LHR-TXL J, FR SXF-STN Y, SN BRU-LHR Y, MA LHR-BUD Y, BA BUD-LHR J, BA LCY-SNN-JFK J, BA JFK-LHR J, BA
 
swisskloten
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RE: Is An Autopilot Landing Legal?

Sun Jan 02, 2005 10:53 am

Interesting replies. That brings up another question: do you have to keep your hands on the yoke when you autoland? Or, are you supposed to keep your hands off the yoke to ensure that the autopilot is trimming properly? Also, throughout the autoland, what is actually being done? Do the crew have to deploy the engine reversers or is absolutely everything being done by autopilot?
 
pictues
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RE: Is An Autopilot Landing Legal?

Sun Jan 02, 2005 11:01 am

In the USA it is leagal to Auto Takeoff. In Canada the feature is disabled as it is not permitted in Canada. Also AMS is equiped so that aircraft can auto taxi.
 
Av8trxx
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RE: Cat III Pilot Authorization Requirements

Sun Jan 02, 2005 1:57 pm

Regarding crew certification, US Federal Aviation Regulations for Category III pilot authorization requirements can be found under 61.68-

http://ecfr.gpoaccess.gov/cgi/t/text/text-idx?type=simple;c=ecfr;cc=ecfr;sid=8e0d85c773780dc15aff73452af9892f;region=DIV1;q1=ILS;rgn=div8;view=text;idno=14;node=14%3A2.0.1.1.2.2.1.6
 
PhilSquares
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RE: Is An Autopilot Landing Legal?

Sun Jan 02, 2005 5:05 pm

Just arrived in DEL and had to do a CATIIIA approach. RVR28 was down below 100 meters when we arrived, but finally came up to 200.

Just to clarify what Pictures asked; there is no such thing as an auto takeoff!
Fly fast, live slow
 
air2gxs
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RE: Is An Autopilot Landing Legal?

Sun Jan 02, 2005 8:40 pm

There are 4 things a flight crew must do in an autoland (in no particular order):

1. Tell the aircraft to do the autoland
2. Extend flaps as required
3. Extend Gear
4. Deploy reversers

May want to add extend/retract flight spoliers, but I guess that's optional.

As for auto-takeoff, I believe the only thing that can be automated on take-off is the auto-throttle system. I assume that immediately after take-off the auto-pilot can be engaged to maintain the selected profile, but gear and flaps belong to the flight crew.
 
Aviation
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RE: Is An Autopilot Landing Legal?

Sun Jan 02, 2005 10:41 pm

Very interesting did not know much about this subject but could someone tell me when was the first relese of the autoland system and on which a/c and also which airline was the first to addopt the use of the autoland system the pioneers of this system in other words?

Thanks,
Aaron J Nicoli
Signed, Aaron Nicoli - Trans World Airlines Collector
 
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Starlionblue
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RE: Is An Autopilot Landing Legal?

Mon Jan 03, 2005 12:43 am

: do you have to keep your hands on the yoke when you autoland? Or, are you supposed to keep your hands off the yoke to ensure that the autopilot is trimming properly? Also, throughout the autoland, what is actually being done? Do the crew have to deploy the engine reversers or is absolutely everything being done by autopilot?

Hands off the yoke! Throughout the autoland, the pilots are checking that everything is working properly, as well as deploying flaps as required. Reversers are deployed by some autoland systems and not by others.



As for auto-takeoff, I believe the only thing that can be automated on take-off is the auto-throttle system. I assume that immediately after take-off the auto-pilot can be engaged to maintain the selected profile, but gear and flaps belong to the flight crew.


Most autopilots cannot be engaged until a certain altitude is reached, normally around 500 feet AGL.
"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots." - John Ringo
 
MD11Engineer
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RE: Is An Autopilot Landing Legal?

Mon Jan 03, 2005 12:59 am

The first plane to autoland was a Trident in the 1960s.

Jan
Je Suis Charlie et je suis Ahmet aussi
 
IAHERJ
Posts: 527
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RE: Is An Autopilot Landing Legal?

Mon Jan 03, 2005 5:11 am

On the 717 at AirTran, we must perform an autoland every 30 days. On the dispatch paperwork it will indicate that the CA and FO are either CAT III , or CAT I. Both of us have to have the CAT III next to our name to be legal to perform an actual CAT III approach and landing. I usually knock it out on the first trip of the month. I try to perform one in Atlanta or another high density airport where we will be turned onto the final several miles outside the marker and be slowed and stabalized early in the approach. LGA, DCA and other airports where you have special visual approaches are not conducive or even legal for autolands. The airplane needs to be set up way out so autolands are not performed at airports with little traffic where you are cleared for a visual approach way out thus being able to keep your speed up and or turn a short final.

During an autoland, the flying pilot does hold on to the yoke and thrust levers and is always ready to take over and land manually if any one of several conditions are not met during different points in the approach. Each aircraft type has different limatations for an autoland to be conducted. For instance, on the 717, we can only perform an autoland if the wind is (15 knots or less x-wind) 20 knot headwind etx. We have several other limatations like runway slope, contamination levels and pressure altitude of the airport.
Basically, autolands can not be performed on windy days with heavy rain etc. They are designed for foggy conditions in still air. Ive seen the 717 grease landings and land hard off the centerline. When a landing is not deemed acceptable by the pilot, it is written up and the aircraft is downgraded to "no autoland" status until the mechanics can determine the cause.

Hope this helps.

IAHERJ
Actually flown: EMB-120 EMB-145 B717 B737 B757 B767
 
Popfly
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RE: Is An Autopilot Landing Legal?

Tue Jan 04, 2005 3:22 am

IAHERJ,

Now that's the kind of useful info on the 717 I need. IAHERJ, would you be interested in helping make a 717 for Flight Simulator? The gauges are 75% done. Since I can't email you, please contact me at...

wsgrabowski@comcast.net

This applies to any other 717 drivers out there.

Bill

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