KAVL
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Third Seat In The Cockpit

Wed Aug 25, 2004 6:21 pm

Something I've always wondered about, if anyone could entertain it:

I believe the cockpit of every airliner has a seat for the captain, and one for the FO, but some cockpits have a third crew position behind these two seats, facing sideways in front of an enormous panel of instruments and switches.

What does this third person do? Also, do all larger aircraft have this position,
or is it a thing of the past, being that only older aircraft seem to have it?

TIA,

-KAVL  Smokin cool
Once you have tasted flight, you will walk with your eyes turned skyward, for it is there you long to return - da Vinci
 
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Starlionblue
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RE: Third Seat In The Cockpit

Wed Aug 25, 2004 8:30 pm

That would be the flight engineer position. As you correctly surmise, it is a thing of the past. In the old days, engines required more nursing and care than today. Nowadays, FADEC (Full Áuthority Digital Engine Control) allows the two pilots to monitor the engines while they fly the plane.

On even older planes, you would often have a navigator and/or a radio operator.

The F/E position dissapeared around the 1970s.
"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots." - John Ringo
 
iakobos
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RE: Third Seat In The Cockpit

Wed Aug 25, 2004 8:41 pm

The F/E position has not disappeared, although less a/c do have such.
Note: if there is a F/E position, the cockpit has 4 (or even 5) seats.
Example: A300-B1 / Concorde / B-747 / L-1011

The 707 and DC-8 families have 5 seats
 
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Starlionblue
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RE: Third Seat In The Cockpit

Wed Aug 25, 2004 9:22 pm

Well, it has not dissapeared. If a plane was built with one, it will still have one. But practically no new builds have an F/E position. Maybe some of the Russian/Ukrainian types?

Larger types like the 777 have 4/5 seats despite only having two pilots. There's lots of space on the flight deck.

[Edited 2004-08-25 14:31:52]

[Edited 2004-08-25 14:32:14]
"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots." - John Ringo
 
nudelhirsch
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RE: Third Seat In The Cockpit

Thu Aug 26, 2004 1:27 am

Starlionblue explained it, I also add some pictures to see the differences:

The 747 (-100 through -300 series)

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Photo © Michael Bridge
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Photo © Ivan Rodriguez - IBERIAN SPOTTERS



Russian airplanes have sometimes even 6 seats in the cockpit, here the flight deck of a Russian airliner:

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Photo © Yevgeny Pashnin



Most modern airplanes are flown by only 2 crewmembers, as the systems are much more modern than in former days. Glass-Cockpits, newer overhead panels, and more computers to control the systems, compare old 747 versus newer ones:

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Photo © Daniel Alaerts - AirTeamImages
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Photo © Sam Chui


The modern glass cockpits allow the crew to handle what the engineer did in former times, but with only 2 people flying.

To be fully correct: even the 777 has a seat for a the engineer, but it is actually for maintenance purpose and not used like the flight engineer in former airliners:

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Photo © Jeff Bigelow
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Photo © Siegfried Huss



Putana da Seatbeltz!
 
dsuairptman
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RE: Third Seat In The Cockpit

Thu Aug 26, 2004 1:29 am

Actually DL and AA didn't see an end to their FE crews until the late 1990s or early 2000s when they put the 727 out to pasture.

You still can find numerous FE equipped plans flying in third world countries and well known cargo airlines ie: FEDEX and UPS, though FEDEX does modify some used DC10s to a MD-11 style cockpit requring only two pilots.
GEAUX SAINTS!
 
MD11Engineer
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RE: Third Seat In The Cockpit

Thu Aug 26, 2004 2:44 am

UPS is phasing out their 727-100QFs. CGN will lose the last one by october. Several have already been scrapped in Rosswell, NM.

Jan
Je Suis Charlie et je suis Ahmet aussi
 
KAVL
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RE: Third Seat In The Cockpit

Thu Aug 26, 2004 6:23 am

Thanks to all of you for your well-versed replies!
Once you have tasted flight, you will walk with your eyes turned skyward, for it is there you long to return - da Vinci
 
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TripleDelta
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RE: Third Seat In The Cockpit

Thu Aug 26, 2004 6:44 pm

As Nudelhirsch pointed out, even some modern Russian aircraft have several crew stations more than on other aircraft. On some flights, the An-124 and 225 can carry a complement of 18 crew, 6 of which are responsible for flying the thing, while the other 11 + loadmaster are specialists in various aircraft systems and are equipped to fix basically any part of the plane that does not require big, highly-specialized tools.

While GPS has facilitated navigation a lot, it is still not very widespread in northern regions, Siberia to name one. Along with the lack of ground aids in the form of radio-nav stations, careful navigation is essential and to minimize errors, much as you would cross-check INS systems in old jetliners, two navigators are used on each flight. In this form, the essential flight crew on the big Antonovs is:

- pilot
- copilot
- FE
- communications officer
- two navigators
No plane, no gain.
 
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Starlionblue
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RE: Third Seat In The Cockpit

Thu Aug 26, 2004 9:08 pm

GPS is satellite based, so I don't quite see how being in Siberia would make it hard to navigate using it. As for the lack of other navaids, I agree completely.
"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots." - John Ringo
 
Klaus
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Starlionblue

Fri Aug 27, 2004 1:42 am

GPS coverage is not complete. In the polar regions you need additional navigational aids. Although I wouldn´t expect most of Sibiria to be affected.

That is one of the motivations behind the upcoming european Galileo system: As it is primarily civilian, it will not be limited to latitudes of probable military conflicts...  Wink/being sarcastic
 
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Starlionblue
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RE: Third Seat In The Cockpit

Fri Aug 27, 2004 10:33 pm

Thx Klaus, that explains it.
"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots." - John Ringo
 
iakobos
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RE: Third Seat In The Cockpit

Sat Aug 28, 2004 12:50 am

I do not see why GPS (the US Navstar version) would not be complete, the 24 or so satelites cover the globe.
I suppose anyway that Russian planes are depending on (or also) on their own GPS system (Glonass).
 
pilotpip
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RE: Third Seat In The Cockpit

Sat Aug 28, 2004 6:48 pm

Someone mentioned to me that the primary reason that many russian aircraft have 6 stations (navigator, radio operator, F/E, Mechanic, Captian, F/O etc) is mainly because they didn't have to worry about the bottom line in the communist days as much as their western counterparts. You have to provide work for people, why make two pilots multitask?

I laughed the first time I heard it, but DC-9s had two pilots long before anything like RNAV was common in aircraft.
DMI
 
Klaus
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Iakobos

Sat Aug 28, 2004 9:40 pm

Iakobos: I do not see why GPS (the US Navstar version) would not be complete, the 24 or so satelites cover the globe.

They cover all longitudes, but their orbits are not tilted high enough to cover the poles - there simply is no satellite in a polar orbit (maximum inclination is only 55 degrees, as far as I know).

Galileo will have some of the satellites in polar orbits to cover the poles as well. That could make it unnecessary to rely mainly on the other navaids on the transpolar flight routes when it´s operational.
 
iakobos
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RE: Third Seat In The Cockpit

Sat Aug 28, 2004 11:24 pm

Klaus,
I checked, there are 29 Navstar sats in orbit at 20,200km, basically echeloned in six different planes of 4 each + spares.
At any point on the globe and at any time, at least 5 satellites are visible.
Only 3 are needed to get a position report.

Still, the Russians have their own system.
 
Klaus
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Iakobos

Sun Aug 29, 2004 1:52 am

NASA Quest - Antarctic Navigation: 20.1 Global Positioning System

There are still some problems with using GPS in the field. Coverage at the higher latitudes is limited to certain, yet predictable, hours of the day. At times accuracy is diminished by the low incident angles of the satellites to the horizon. In addition, parties using GPS have reported interruption of service for as long as 72 hours at a time when the system was down for maintenance. Before planning to use GPS, use the software provided with your system to check availability of coverage at your expected location. If GPS is a part of your work in the field, you will likely have to plan your work day around the "windows" of satellite coverage.


You can probably find older a.net threads that confirm this as far as aviation is concerned.

Among Galileo´s aims are better coverage and higher reliability than GPS is offering.
 
PPGMD
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RE: Third Seat In The Cockpit

Sun Aug 29, 2004 2:16 am

You know I have never heard so much grossing over a free system, as I have heard from Europe and GPS.
At worst, you screw up and die.
 
Klaus
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Ppgmd

Sun Aug 29, 2004 4:40 am

PPGMD: You know I have never heard so much grossing over a free system, as I have heard from Europe and GPS.

Simply ask a few of the long-haul pilots flying transpolar routes if they could or would rely on GPS up (or down) there. That´s it.

GPS was simply not planned for that and it still was a spectacular success everywhere else.

And of course it´s noteworthy in this context that this particular weakness is being addressed with the new system. I see no reason to be indignant about anything either way.
 
iakobos
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RE: Third Seat In The Cockpit

Sun Aug 29, 2004 8:23 am

Hi Klaus,
I remained sceptic about the supposed unusefulness of Navstar at the poles.
This is the conclusion I found at gpsworld.com, it was drawn by a specialist Canadian team making extensive testing for the benefit of NATO.

High-Latitude Performance. Regarding satellite geometry at high latitudes, we found that, in general, newer-generation receivers with multiple tracking channels (many with 12 or more channels) appeared to show very little performance difference at high latitudes, most likely due to the increased redundant information provided by tracking all satellites in view. Also, vertical dilution of precision (VDOP) at the North Pole is only slightly lower than corresponding values at lower latitudes, making GPS a truly global system.

 
Klaus
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Iakobos

Sun Aug 29, 2004 10:30 am

Sounds interesting... however it remains the question if it can reach the quality needed for a primary polar navigation tool...
 
iakobos
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RE: Third Seat In The Cockpit

Sun Aug 29, 2004 11:30 am

You never sleep Klaus ? ...it makes two
The INS is certainly the primary tool, and it is already twice redundant I think, the GPS could be the secondary.
I guess only a pilot with transpolar experience could tell.

Still, since we started there..., the Russians have their own system, which for sure works in the arctic latitudes.
...I do give up sometimes, but not often.
Bye
 
BA84
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RE: Third Seat In The Cockpit

Sun Aug 29, 2004 11:35 am

Notice that the Flight Engineer of the Tupolev TU-154M has the throttles.

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Photo © Stefan Welsch


Are flights between New Zealand and Chile in communication the whole way, or are there dead spots?
 
Klaus
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Iakobos

Sun Aug 29, 2004 11:50 am

Iakobos: You never sleep Klaus ? ...it makes two

I do sleep a relatively normal amount, just at "ungodly" hours...  Nuts

Good night!
 
iakobos
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RE: Third Seat In The Cockpit

Sun Aug 29, 2004 11:52 am

Sleep well Klaus

BA84 long range communication take place on the HF bands, and theoritically there are no "dead spots".
 
Night_Flight
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RE: Third Seat In The Cockpit

Thu Sep 02, 2004 5:07 am

I didn't know if anyone mentioned it, the third seat (Jumpseat) is also used by FAA, pilots, and others to either evaluate the crew/systems/operations or to just bumb a ride.

Not all jumpseats are as nice as the 777's!

-Night_Flight-
Remember when sex was safe and flying was dangerous?

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