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LAX
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Attention VC-10 Experts

Fri Apr 27, 2001 3:10 pm

Is it true that the VC-10 airliner from the 1960's was the very first to feature "autoland"? The autoland feature (according to a video program I saw) allows the plane to be guided in via computer with virtually no visibility.

Do today's civil planes even have this feature now.....where a jet is actually allowed to land in nearly zero-zero conditions? Visibility limitations wouldn't even allow such an attempt I would think.

What are the official visibility parameters?

Anybody out there ever ride in a VC-10 during "autoland" circumstances?
 
philb
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RE: Attention VC-10 Experts

Fri Apr 27, 2001 3:33 pm

In 1965, the DH Trident was the first aircraft to feature a fully certificated Autoland system, manufactured by Smiths Industries in the UK. It enabled pilots to land safely in some of the worst foggy weather, with their hands off the controls and with computers making the decisions. Developed versions of this early blind-landing system are installed in all modern airliners, helping to make civil aviation safer and far less subject to delays.

The aircraft could land in zero/zero conditions but the CAA set limits of, if I remeber rightly, 30ft vertical and 100ft horizontal visibility.
 
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B737-112
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RE: Attention VC-10 Experts

Fri Apr 27, 2001 3:38 pm

I always thought the first autoland was on an L-1011.
 
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LAX
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RE: Attention VC-10 Experts

Fri Apr 27, 2001 3:47 pm

Thank You, PhilB.

I stand corrected on the airliner. Yes, it was the Trident in '65....not the VC-10. I had my '60s planes mixed up in this instance.

Thanx for these tidbits on Autoland as well.

I thought there were certain restrictions for landing in fog. A 0/0 landing would never be permitted (unless under dire emergency conditions I imagine).

Ever fly on a Trident (or a VC10)?
 
philb
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RE: Attention VC-10 Experts

Fri Apr 27, 2001 3:49 pm

Many times on Trident 1s and 3s but, sadly, never on the VC10.
 
LBA
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RE: Attention VC-10 Experts

Fri Apr 27, 2001 5:29 pm

Airbus and Boeing a/c can autoland. The autpilot is set to follow the ILS, initiatate the flair and apply the brakes. Zero-zero is not the norm due to safety issues, but it can be done. The only part of flying an a/c which is not automated is take off.
 
philb
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RE: Attention VC-10 Experts

Sat Apr 28, 2001 2:37 am

Automatic take-off is possible but rarely used - the guys up front have to do something sometime  Smile
 
VC-10
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RE: Attention VC-10 Experts

Sat Apr 28, 2001 4:32 am

Although the HS Trident carried out the first commercial autoland the VC10 did help develop the system. From 1967 the Super VC10 was equipped with an autoland facility and the VC10 made its first commercial use of it in 1968. It proved very expensive the maintain the system fully serviceable and as it became apparent the cost outweighed the usefulness, the system it was de-activated.
 
galaxy5
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RE: Attention VC-10 Experts

Sat Apr 28, 2001 6:31 am

the C-5 galaxy has always had auto-land and auto-throttle and its been around since 1963.
"damn, I didnt know prince could Ball like that" - Charlie Murphy
 
philb
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RE: Attention VC-10 Experts

Sat Apr 28, 2001 6:51 am

Galaxy5,

Why call yourself after an aircraft you can't even be bothered to research.

The tentative outline for the C-5 was set down in 1963.

The aircraft itself was not rolled out until March 1968 and first flew in June 1968 - by which time Tridents had been flying commercial passengers on blind landings for nearly 3 years and Smiths work had bot been licensed to firms in the US and was also being adapted.
 
galaxy5
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RE: Attention VC-10 Experts

Sat Apr 28, 2001 6:59 am

im sorry i meant to say in 1968 . also the C-141 has had auto land since it first flew in 1964 PHILB the reason i call myself galaxy5 is because thats what i do for a living i fly C-5 galaxies.
"damn, I didnt know prince could Ball like that" - Charlie Murphy
 
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RayChuang
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RE: Attention VC-10 Experts

Sat Apr 28, 2001 9:55 am

If I remember correctly, the Smiths Autoland system used on the Trident was certified to ICAO CAT II standards, so if the fog got really bad it was still useless.

I believe that CAT III became available during the 1970's starting with the L-1011, and by the 1980's CAT IIIa/IIIb systems became available on the Boeing 757 and 767 (Boeing did a lot of qualification testing on CAT IIIa/IIIb compliant autoland systems).

Of course, today's modern commercial jets are usually at least CAT IIIa-certified. Conditions that would bring an airport to a screeching halt in the 1980's don't phaze pilots who land with CAT IIIa assistance (I belief SMF--notorious for the thick Tule fog in winter--installed a CAT IIIa landing guidance system back in the early 1990's).
 
philb
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RE: Attention VC-10 Experts

Sat Apr 28, 2001 6:43 pm

Galaxy 5,

OK. BTW, the C141 had autoland but the Avro Vulcan was the first 4 engined aircraft to make a fully automatic landing in 1959. The difference between the military's application and the civilian one is that the military use of autoland was not primarily for fog but to lessen the load on the crew in combat conditions - a lesson learned by most civilian crews in the "combat" of busy TMAs!!

The Trident had the first system designed for civil transport use and the aircraft made the first fully automatic airliner landing, the first CAT3 landing and CAT3A landing, both on test and with fare paying passengers under real conditions.

Ray, you are right about CAT2, as I stated in an earlier post but, in the context of the late 1960s, CAT2 blind landings in fog were almost miraculous. Autoland saved BEA many diversions and won them passengers due to the likelihood of arriving at the intended destination.

In the days when dozens of flights were diverted from Heathrow each winter due to fog, there were very few days after the system was certificated when Tridents could be seen diverting to MAN, BHX, GLA etc. whilst their competitors were having to bus and train passengers from their diversion airports
 
VC-10
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RE: Attention VC-10 Experts

Sat Apr 28, 2001 8:18 pm

The Sort Belfast was(is?) autoland equipped. Apparently is was so good that thay had to introduce a 'scatter' into the touchdown point because they were damaging the runway at RAF Brize Norton. The Belfats's were all touching down at the same point !
 
philb
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RE: Attention VC-10 Experts

Sat Apr 28, 2001 8:45 pm

VC10,

Not sure if the system was maintained on the aircraft that passed to Heavylift but I would assume so.

 
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RayChuang
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RE: Attention VC-10 Experts

Sat Apr 28, 2001 9:30 pm

PhilB,

I do agree that BEA did enjoy great business when they were able to operate into LHR from the middle 1960's on with the Smiths Autoland system.

In the future, there will be systems that use GPS to allow for CAT IIIb automatic landings and takeoffs with such extreme accuracy that you can land the plane within two feet accuracy of runway centerline without pilot intervention!  Wow!
 
philb
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RE: Attention VC-10 Experts

Sat Apr 28, 2001 9:42 pm

Ray,

You've heard of triple redundancy?

The pilot, first officer and flight engineer!!  Smile
 
shankly
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RE: Attention VC-10 Experts

Tue May 01, 2001 4:51 pm

I know a pilot who was part of the Trident team pioneering autoland.

He has many great stories, but the best anicdote is re: the decision height which was 12ft, which also happens to be the precise dimension of the cockpit above the runway @ the point of touchdown. He told me they would feel the tires hit the concrete, then decide to land!

Everyday stuff now, but pretty impressive when your doing it for the first time. Also, they guys that were doing it were "line" pilots, not test pilots.
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