Topic Author
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Hand Fly Or AP On Catiii

Thu Nov 01, 2001 2:15 am

Would you land an a/c by hand or use the AP down to flare at a CATIII Airport?
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RE: Hand Fly Or AP On Catiii

Thu Nov 01, 2001 2:37 am

From my understanding, if the weather is at Cat III minimums, then the autopilot must be used. Take a Cat IIIC approach for example: There are no cieling or RVR minimums. The airplane can land in 0/0. Only an autopilot could consistently and safely perform that type of approach.
Jack @ AUS
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RE: Hand Fly Or AP On Catiii

Thu Nov 01, 2001 2:52 am

Cat 3b approach decision height is 50 feet, and there isn't enough time for the pilot to transition from seeing nothing, to taking in enough of the outside world (and there won't exactly be much) to be able to assimilate it and land with reference to it.

This is why Cat 3 approaches have to end in autolands. Typically the FO is designated the handling pilot down to decision height, at which point he calls "decide". The Capt. has been looking out front since 150 feet, and if, at "decide" he can see the relative position of the runway is appropriate, he calls "land" and lets it do its thing.

There is nowhere near enough to see outside to be able to establish the required depth perception to flare. All that can be seen is a few runway lights, so the "land" call is in effect simply a confirmation that the aircraft's flightpath, which it has been flying with monitored accuracy all the way down, is actually going to land the aircraft in the right place. It may be a meter or so left or right, but thats good enough.

Although to continue the approach below 1000 feet there must have been at least 150 meters visibility (RVR), any reported vis reduction after this point is advisory, and the approach continues. The forward visibility required to avoid a go-around is to see ONE runway light. Bearing in mind the centreline lights are 15 meters apart, you can appreciate that a manual landing is impractical, and how little is going to visible out there.

Even after touchdown, when the captain has assumed control, the FO monitors localiser deviation and calls "left" or "right" if appropriate. Taxiing must be done at a snail's pace.

Cat 2 approaches have to be flown by the autopilot, and can conclude with a manual landing, and decision height is typically 100 feet above the surface. The required visibility (RVR) at 1000 feet is 300 meters, and to land the pilot must see 3 centreline lights plus a cross-bar, the latter required to give roll reference. There is enough time from 100 feet to take all this in and make the shift from instruments to looking outside (again the FO is handling, with automatics in, down to decision height).

Success at landing from seeing the runway at 100 feet requires (for me, at least!) a concious effort NOT to change anything until the flare. The aircraft has already trimmed itself, but the instinctive reaction on visual contact is to pitch up slightly. It is this reaction which must be avoided.

To flare, most pilots need to see a point ahead which has little or no relative movement. This reference point is therefore as far ahead as possible (this is why we teach student pilots to look at the far end of the runway during their flare. Their instinct is often to look at the runway immediately ahead of the aircraft. No depth perception! Crunch!). A more experienced aviator can pull it off without so much forward vis., which is why on a Cat 2, it can be landed manually with hardly any vis.

Regards - Musang


RE: Hand Fly Or AP On Catiii

Thu Nov 01, 2001 3:32 am

Musang wrote: "...This is why Cat 3 approaches have to end in autolands. ..."

You need to be careful on generalizations, though. I know for a fact that with CatIIIa using Head Up Display (HUD) guidance, pilots are required to land manually. Pilots have a choice of having AP engaged down to 100 ft then disconnect or manually fly the whole approach. Southwest Airlines and American Airlines are among airliners that use HUD.

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RE: Hand Fly Or AP On Catiii

Thu Nov 01, 2001 3:17 pm

UPS can do Cat3A approaches via the HUD to 700 rvr.....soon to be approved for 600 rvr. No autopilot involved....all with the HUD and hand flown by the captain.
Topic Author
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RE: Hand Fly Or AP On Catiii

Thu Nov 01, 2001 6:58 pm

Thanks for the info...is the AP very accurate?

If you had nil visibility, could you rely on the AP to guide to directly onto the centre line?

RE: Hand Fly Or AP On Catiii

Fri Nov 02, 2001 1:14 am

There's a difference between the term AP (autopilot) and the autoland. AP comes in different "sizes and shapes". An AP that is certified for Cat 3 autoland is very accurate and will get you there or warn you to do a go-around.

The basic autoland requirement is as follows. Most if not all certified systems actually performed much better than the requirements:

Guide to a touch-down box to a probability of 1x10-6 (namely only allow one outside out of a million landings)

Longitudinally: From runway threshold: 200 ft - 2700ft.
Laterally: Outboard landing gear within 70ft of runway centerline. Cat 3 runway must be at least 150ft wide.

Sink rate 10 feet per second or less.

There are structural limit load and bank angle requirements also but I won't mention herein.

Of course, it's not possible to actually do a million landings to certify the system. For cat 3, the FAA would typically require about 1000 landings using a simulator, using different pilots and about 150 actual landings in various environmental and airplane failure (e.g. engine out) conditions. This data is extrapolated to the 1x10-6 probability using the so-called Montecarlo method. It's pretty darn safe. As a matter of fact I don't think there was ever an accident attributed to an autoland system.

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RE: Hand Fly Or AP On Catiii

Fri Nov 02, 2001 2:53 pm

At Horizon our Dash 8's will NOT fly a coupled A/P approach. The Captain hand flies the aircraft to the 50' DH and 700 RVR.

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What's A Hud?

Sat Nov 03, 2001 2:07 am

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RE: Hand Fly Or AP On Catiii

Sat Nov 03, 2001 7:55 am

Heads Up Display; projects info on a glass screen in front of the windsheidl
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RE: Hand Fly Or AP On Catiii

Sun Nov 04, 2001 12:49 am

Just a couple of notes. I believe a CAT IIIB approach does not have a "decision height", but an "alert height", which is usually 50 feet, where, if there are no failures, the autoland is completed. Also, I would suggest that the "touchdown zone" for an "acceptable autoland" is 27 feet left or right of centerline.

But a very good discussion none the less.
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RE: Hand Fly Or AP On Catiii

Sun Nov 04, 2001 3:28 am

Apologies to the Cat III hand-flyers, I should have qualified my input as refering to our company procedures only.

We don't have HUDs!

Regards - Musang

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