aileron11
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Flight Engineers, How Important Are They

Sat Dec 24, 2005 3:30 am

How important is the flight engineer instead of two pilots in control using E.I.C.A.S. The reason I bring this up is because back in the day with flight engineers the pilot just had to fly and the engineer watched over fuel, hydraulics, engine, air conditioning and what ever else I forgot to mention. If something goes wrong with an aircraft that has E.I.C.A.S. Now the pilots have to fly and monitor all the indications that is needed that means his work load doubled were as the flight engineer will do that for pilot and he can concentrate on flying.

Any thoughts on these thanks.
Jersey Lou
 
bobnwa
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RE: Flight Engineers, How Important Are They

Sat Dec 24, 2005 3:34 am

Can't be too important as just about all airlines do without them.
 
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Stitch
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RE: Flight Engineers, How Important Are They

Sat Dec 24, 2005 3:35 am

I would think the flight engineer was made superfluous when Multi-Function Displays (MFDs) were introduced, which meant that all the gauges and switches that needed to be at the Flight Engineer's station are now in 2-4 large full-color displays that fit in the center of the forward console.

And since the computers fly the plane most of the time (since they do so more efficiently), the pilot and co-pilot have plenty of time to watch.  Smile

Also, I expect the MFDs point out the problem for you, instead of you requiring to scan (as the FE had to do).
 
filejw
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RE: Flight Engineers, How Important Are They

Sat Dec 24, 2005 3:45 am

Having flown lots of A/C with both two and three pilots and now flying again with three I must say there is just that extra layer of safety with a F/E .When everything is running normal all is well with two.However throw in an abnormal or emergency the F/E is irreplaceable.
 
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HAWK21M
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RE: Flight Engineers, How Important Are They

Sat Dec 24, 2005 10:55 pm

Technology Advances knocked down the Radio Officer,Then the Navigator & then the Flight Engineer.
Whose next .
regds
MEL
I may not win often, but I damn well never lose!!! ;)
 
Matt72033
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RE: Flight Engineers, How Important Are They

Sun Dec 25, 2005 12:46 am

Quoting HAWK21M (Reply 4):
Technology Advances knocked down the Radio Officer,Then the Navigator & then the Flight Engineer.
Whose next .

well it wont be engineers MEL  Wink
we can live safe in that knowledge!
 
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Jetlagged
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RE: Flight Engineers, How Important Are They

Sun Dec 25, 2005 12:52 am

An engineer is invaluable in cases where troubleshooting is necessary. EICAS and ECAM are excellent systems but can only work as programmed and may not work correctly in unforeseen circumstances. For example, would that Air Transat A330 have run out of fuel had an engineer been on board to interpret what the ECAM was saying, and to remind the pilots to close the fuel crossfeed valve when it didn't solve the fuel imbalance?

On the other hand there can be "too many cooks" as in the case of the Eastern L1011 accident in the Everglades. In that case there were four people on the flightdeck. I would argue three is the ideal number for efficient operation in emergencies.

One advantage of a flight engineer not mentioned so far is in pre-flight. The F/E is qualified to sign the aircraft off for flight after a repair, a pilot is not qualified to do this. That assumes the F/E is a trained engineer, not a third pilot.

Personnally I'm in favour of F/E's on long haul aircraft. After all a relief pilot is required to be carried on long flights, sometimes two. These en-route relief pilots are often not qualified to takeoff or land. Instead, the F/E could act as the second crew member in the flightdeck while one of the pilots takes a rest. Also a third pair of eyes with a different training background can only add to safety on board.
The glass isn't half empty, or half full, it's twice as big as it needs to be.
 
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HAWK21M
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RE: Flight Engineers, How Important Are They

Sun Dec 25, 2005 1:09 am

Quoting Matt72033 (Reply 5):
well it wont be engineers MEL
we can live safe in that knowledge

Thats true.....Although the worry is in case we run out of ATF  biggrin 
regds
MEL
I may not win often, but I damn well never lose!!! ;)
 
jush
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RE: Flight Engineers, How Important Are They

Sun Dec 25, 2005 1:32 am

Quoting Jetlagged (Reply 6):
Personnally I'm in favour of F/E's on long haul aircraft. After all a relief pilot is required to be carried on long flights, sometimes two. These en-route relief pilots are often not qualified to takeoff or land. Instead, the F/E could act as the second crew member in the flightdeck while one of the pilots takes a rest. Also a third pair of eyes with a different training background can only add to safety on board.

I find this a very interesting idea but i think higher skilled persons on the flight deck would increase operating cost heavily...
But personally i don't feel unsafer without the third man on deck...

Regds
jush
There is one problem with airbus. Though their products are engineering marvels they lack passion, completely.
 
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Jetlagged
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RE: Flight Engineers, How Important Are They

Sun Dec 25, 2005 1:51 am

Quoting Jush (Reply 8):
I find this a very interesting idea but i think higher skilled persons on the flight deck would increase operating cost heavily...

So no pilots then either?? I believe engineer's pay was usually somewhat less than pilot's so they would be cheaper to employ.
The glass isn't half empty, or half full, it's twice as big as it needs to be.
 
MD11Engineer
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RE: Flight Engineers, How Important Are They

Sun Dec 25, 2005 2:53 am

Even if they'll have pilotless aircraft some day, they'll still need engineers to fix them! Big grin

Jan
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Dougloid
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RE: Flight Engineers, How Important Are They

Sun Dec 25, 2005 7:31 am

Nobody's indispensible. Back in the day of the Stratocruiser, the flight engineer may have been the most important man in the aircraft. Times change.

The railroads got rid of brakemen, firemen and the time honored crummy, hack, or whatever you want to call it. When they changed over from journal bearings to roller bearings there were no more hotboxes and no need to have someone on the rear of the train watching. Although the time honored custom of canasta, a coal stove and a coffee pot in the hack was a good one. I actually did see a train stopped one time in 1968 with a journal box fire but it must have been about the last one.
If you believe in coincidence, you haven't looked close enough-Joe Leaphorn
 
VC-10
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RE: Flight Engineers, How Important Are They

Sun Dec 25, 2005 8:09 am

What has been overlooked in this thread is ACARS. Nowadays the pilot can communicate with the Engineers in Maintenance Control (me) and we can download system data, have access to all the books and over advice to the crew. Naturally the Capt has the final decision, but he has access there is a huge wealth of experience, based on documemtaion and real time data from the a/c.

Not all F/E's were crusty 50 yr olds some were just out of school with little experience
 
jush
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RE: Flight Engineers, How Important Are They

Sun Dec 25, 2005 8:19 pm

Quoting Jetlagged (Reply 9):
So no pilots then either?? I believe engineer's pay was usually somewhat less than pilot's so they would be cheaper to employ.

No what i meant is. If you have relief pilots who are also engineers i reckon they will demand a certain salary which increases operating costs.

Regds
jush
There is one problem with airbus. Though their products are engineering marvels they lack passion, completely.
 
doug_or
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RE: Flight Engineers, How Important Are They

Sun Dec 25, 2005 9:20 pm

Don't forget that the 2 pilot flight crew predated EICAS, MFD/EFIS dispals and ACARS.
When in doubt, one B pump off
 
474218
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RE: Flight Engineers, How Important Are They

Sun Dec 25, 2005 11:47 pm

How important is the flight engineer?

Will if the aircraft was designed to have a flight engineer it cannot fly if one is not present.

Therefore they are very important.
 
CosmicCruiser
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RE: Flight Engineers, How Important Are They

Mon Dec 26, 2005 6:55 am

Quoting Filejw (Reply 3):
Having flown lots of A/C with both two and three pilots and now flying again with three I must say there is just that extra layer of safety with a F/E .When everything is running normal all is well with two.However throw in an abnormal or emergency the F/E is irreplaceable.

You have the only pertinent post that comes from experience. I too have flown with and without the f/e and you summed it up. The extra pair of eyes from that somewhat removed point of view was incredible. Yes, all the great systems schematics on the DUs are neat but I can tell you my workload is greater in the 2 man plane than it was in the 3 man. I could go on ...CC
 
Mir
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RE: Flight Engineers, How Important Are They

Mon Dec 26, 2005 7:11 am

Quoting Jetlagged (Reply 6):
On the other hand there can be "too many cooks" as in the case of the Eastern L1011 accident in the Everglades. In that case there were four people on the flightdeck. I would argue three is the ideal number for efficient operation in emergencies.

The Eastern crash could have been prevented if someone had been flying the plane instead of having all the crew members trying to fix a landing gear light while, unbeknowst to all of them, the plane was spiralling itself towards the ground. The number of people on the flight deck was quite irrelevant.

-Mir
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wrighbrothers
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RE: Flight Engineers, How Important Are They

Mon Dec 26, 2005 7:27 am

Well, the F/E is (in my view) is a well needed person on the flight deck.
If you think, computer crash, and there are lots of people who can hack into computers.
Now, once you've had a computer crash , no matter how many back up back up computers there are, you will be in trouble, no navigation, no things telling what's gone wrong, just a blank screen .
Now humans can make mistakes, BUT SO CAN COMPUTERS,
when your average computer at home crashes half way through you typing a very long letter, and just blanks out and losses everything, it's annoying, and it happens, computers can wrongly calculate things, and the problem is that the pilots would go along with it, and that could mean disaster.
The F/E can discuss what's wrong with the rest of the flight crew, look at his panel and see the little gauge which shows the computers are wrong, yet he computer isn't going to jump out and say "hey, I think I'm wrong, something ain't right here".
I mean, this is the same technology which crashes computers and freezes printers when you tell it to cancel half way through printing, and gets bugged.
anyday.
I am a firm believer of humans, and would trust a human over a computer.(which is at the end of the day just a bundle of wires), and also, what sounds, better ?
3 people in the cockpit, all the vital systems under the watchful eye of a human,
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or under the control of a bundle of wires in a box ??

Wrighbrothers.

[Edited 2005-12-25 23:35:04]
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Starlionblue
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RE: Flight Engineers, How Important Are They

Mon Dec 26, 2005 7:34 am

Quoting Wrighbrothers (Reply 18):
Now, once you've had a computer crash , no matter how many back up back up computers there are, you will be in trouble, no navigation, no things telling what's gone wrong, just a blank screen .
Now humans can make mistakes, BUT SO CAN COMPUTERS,
when your average computer at home crashes half way through you typing a very long letter, and just blanks out and losses everything, it's annoying, and it happens, computers can wrongly calculate things, and the problem is that the pilots would go along with it, and that could mean disaster.

I'm sorry, but you can't draw the parallel between a home computer and a flight computer. They are different in programming, hardware, interface, accessibility and a ton of other things.

Quoting Wrighbrothers (Reply 18):
I mean, this is the same technology which crashes computers and freezes printers when you tell it to cancel half way through printing, and gets bugged.

Eh ok...

Quoting Wrighbrothers (Reply 18):
I am a firm believer of humans, and would trust a human over a computer.(which is at the end of the day just a bundle of wires), and also, what sounds, better ?

I would trust a well programmed computer to do it's job well 100% of the time.



You obviously don't understand how computers work very well. I don't have time to go into it now, so I will leave you with the factoid that no Airbus has EVER had a fatality due to a fault in flight control software. Just like any other component, the flight control computers are not allowed to act as a single point of failure.

[Edited 2005-12-25 23:39:55]
"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots." - John Ringo
 
Matt72033
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RE: Flight Engineers, How Important Are They

Mon Dec 26, 2005 7:40 am

Quoting Wrighbrothers (Reply 18):

LOL please name a situation where an aircrafts computers have crapped out and having an FE on board would have helped?
 
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Starlionblue
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RE: Flight Engineers, How Important Are They

Mon Dec 26, 2005 8:43 am

Ok I'm back.

Some people think that since their home computers crash and malfunction so frequently, every computer does. That's like bundling a Cessna 172 and an Airbus A319 and saying they are the same thing. Sure, they both have wings and stuff, but I think most would agree they are built along slightly different lines. Also, the training of the pilots is just a mite different, no?

The kind of rather crappy quality of service seen in home use is hardly the norm even in corporate datacenters, let alone aviation.

And yes, Windows can be made quite stable, thank you very much.

On a home machine, there is no telling what combination of hardware and software is used. In an aircraft the hardware/software combo is known to the letter. There is rigorous change control and testing. There's no way you will find the same sorts of errors occuring commonly.

Of course, sometimes there are screwups, like with the Ariane 5 guidance error. But it should be noted that the Ariane 5 booster isn't man rated, and thus a higher error probability is accepted.


As Matt72033 says, just because you have an F/E doesn't mean you can recover from complete computer failure.

I think that if we look at accident stats, the pilots are just as often the main reason for the accident as the hardware. I'm not saying the hardware is perfect, but only by combining improved aircraft systems with better training can aviation continue to progress towards ever greater safety. Not that it's so bad todat.

[Edited 2005-12-26 00:47:38]
"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots." - John Ringo
 
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HAWK21M
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RE: Flight Engineers, How Important Are They

Mon Dec 26, 2005 3:21 pm

Quoting MD11Engineer (Reply 10):
Even if they'll have pilotless aircraft some day, they'll still need engineers to fix them!

I doubt you'd get Pax to Fly in them though  Smile

Quoting Starlionblue (Reply 21):
Ok I'm back.

Where/When did you go away.

I don't think it'll reduce further.Two man Flying crew will always stay.
regds
MEL
I may not win often, but I damn well never lose!!! ;)
 
Matt72033
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RE: Flight Engineers, How Important Are They

Mon Dec 26, 2005 7:09 pm

Quoting HAWK21M (Reply 22):
I don't think it'll reduce further.Two man Flying crew will always stay.

well....you never know! especially if the cost of fuel keeps escalating!
 
vc10
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RE: Flight Engineers, How Important Are They

Mon Dec 26, 2005 7:44 pm

Well people are used to do a job when machines/electronics cannot, and up until recent times electronics/computers were just not up to the standard where they could control systems safely under normal conditions never mind failure conditions. The engine control complexity in the big multi engine piston engine era required an individual to look after them so as to get any sort of efficiency from them on long range flights. With the advent of the jet airliner the engine control requirement reduced but the aircrafts system became more complicated so an individual was again required.
Why use an engineer then well because these people usually came with hands on ground engineering experience which could be put to good use when things went wrong both in the air and on the ground especially in an era of poor world wide communications so preventing technical assistance being given from base. To assist with this F/E were normally given a longer technical conversion course.
Times have moved on now though and F/E now have been successfully replaced by electronics and I would not put money on it continuing to at least replace one of the pilots, after all was it not Air Anglia who legally flew a small turbo prop with just one pilot and the F/A
 
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HAWK21M
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RE: Flight Engineers, How Important Are They

Tue Dec 27, 2005 5:29 pm

Quoting Matt72033 (Reply 23):
Quoting HAWK21M (Reply 22):
I don't think it'll reduce further.Two man Flying crew will always stay.

well....you never know! especially if the cost of fuel keeps escalating

That would never happen even if the price of Fuel was more than the cost of Platinium  Smile
regds
MEL
I may not win often, but I damn well never lose!!! ;)
 
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Starlionblue
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RE: Flight Engineers, How Important Are They

Tue Dec 27, 2005 11:40 pm

Quoting HAWK21M (Reply 25):
Quoting Matt72033 (Reply 23):
Quoting HAWK21M (Reply 22):
I don't think it'll reduce further.Two man Flying crew will always stay.

well....you never know! especially if the cost of fuel keeps escalating

That would never happen even if the price of Fuel was more than the cost of Platinium Smile
regds
MEL

History shows that things that will "never happen" sooner or later tend to happen. Be very careful Big grin

Some examples:
- Supersonic flight.
- Demand for more than 10 computers in the world.
- Spaceflight.
- ...
"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots." - John Ringo
 
Whiskeyflyer
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RE: Flight Engineers, How Important Are They

Tue Dec 27, 2005 11:55 pm

when we fly charters to out of the way places, we place an engineer in the cockpit, but he is simply there to fix defects on the ground at the outstation. So maybe he is not really a flight engineer, we call them "Flying Spanner".
Having a debate at the moment regarding CRM issues if an emergency (we are tending towards, the engineer should do nothing and let the crew do their job and I am an engineer saying this)
And most times the defect is a small one but if it cannot be deferred you incur additional costs flying in an engineer, when most time the defect is small and the engineer fixes it quickly (has happened that the crew pitches up at the airport the next day and a tyre is flat)

Quoting VC-10 (Reply 12):
What has been overlooked in this thread is ACARS. Nowadays the pilot can communicate with the Engineers in Maintenance Control (me) and we can download system data, have access to all the books and over advice to the crew.

ACARS tells you the problem but its not going to get up and change the wheel.

Times move on and the Flt Engineer is a dead profession like a telex operator, data card puncher etc
 
beowulf
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RE: Flight Engineers, How Important Are They

Wed Dec 28, 2005 12:10 am

Quoting VC-10 (Reply 12):
What has been overlooked in this thread is ACARS. Nowadays the pilot can communicate with the Engineers in Maintenance Control (me) and we can download system data, have access to all the books and over advice to the crew.

How exactly does the communication take place via ACARS. I have not seen a keyboard in an aircraft (the A380 is an exception), except fot the keypad of the FMC. Or do pilots have a laptop they hook up? So, I am interested in the process of communication. Do you have a chat window like ICQ or MSN?

Nick
 
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HAWK21M
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RE: Flight Engineers, How Important Are They

Wed Dec 28, 2005 3:20 pm

Quoting Starlionblue (Reply 26):
History shows that things that will "never happen" sooner or later tend to happen. Be very careful

Some examples:
- Supersonic flight.
- Demand for more than 10 computers in the world.
- Spaceflight.

Not when it comes to Safety.
Pax would want more than one pilot on board or a Safety feature that could bring the Aircraft on Ground Normally in case of Pilot Incapacitated.Few Pax will want to fly on a Pilotless Jet.
regds
MEL
I may not win often, but I damn well never lose!!! ;)
 
VC-10
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RE: Flight Engineers, How Important Are They

Wed Dec 28, 2005 10:16 pm

Quoting Whiskeyflyer (Reply 27):
Quoting VC-10 (Reply 12):
What has been overlooked in this thread is ACARS. Nowadays the pilot can communicate with the Engineers in Maintenance Control (me) and we can download system data, have access to all the books and over advice to the crew.

ACARS tells you the problem but its not going to get up and change the wheel.

I believe the topic is about FLIGHT Engineers, not Ground engineers flying with the a/c.

Quoting Beowulf (Reply 28):
How exactly does the communication take place via ACARS. I have not seen a keyboard in an aircraft (the A380 is an exception), except fot the keypad of the FMC. Or do pilots have a laptop they hook up? So, I am interested in the process of communication.

Nick,

The crew use the FMS/CMC MCDU keypad to type in the message and it is sent via VHF or Satcom to a ground station where the msg is sent to provider like ARINC who route over the i/net to the a/c operator
 
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Starlionblue
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RE: Flight Engineers, How Important Are They

Wed Dec 28, 2005 11:02 pm

Quoting HAWK21M (Reply 29):
Quoting Starlionblue (Reply 26):
History shows that things that will "never happen" sooner or later tend to happen. Be very careful

Some examples:
- Supersonic flight.
- Demand for more than 10 computers in the world.
- Spaceflight.

Not when it comes to Safety.
Pax would want more than one pilot on board or a Safety feature that could bring the Aircraft on Ground Normally in case of Pilot Incapacitated.Few Pax will want to fly on a Pilotless Jet.

Perceived wisdom of the times... When railroads were first built, there were predictions that the high speeds would make people faint or lose their minds. When the London Underground was built, there were predictions that the periods spent underground at speed would drive people mad.

That is, we can only judge from what we know now. Who knows what advances are in our future, and how they will affect our way of thinking?

In 100 years A.nutters might think we are terribly old-fashioned and quaint with our 2 person cockpits. In 200 years many people might feel safer on an automated jet.
"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots." - John Ringo
 
beowulf
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RE: Flight Engineers, How Important Are They

Thu Dec 29, 2005 12:23 am

Quoting VC-10 (Reply 30):
The crew use the FMS/CMC MCDU keypad to type in the message and it is sent via VHF or Satcom to a ground station where the msg is sent to provider like ARINC who route over the i/net to the a/c operator

Quite tedious, isn't it? As you say, it's a keypad and not a full grown keyboard.

Nick
 
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HAWK21M
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RE: Flight Engineers, How Important Are They

Thu Dec 29, 2005 4:27 pm

Quoting Starlionblue (Reply 31):
In 200 years many people might feel safer on an automated jet.

Time would tell.Technology & Safety would play a big role.
regds
MEL
I may not win often, but I damn well never lose!!! ;)

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