UAL747
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What Is The Most Difficult Airliner To Fly?

Sun May 18, 2008 5:17 pm

Simple question, but expect some long answers. What is the most difficult airliner to fly? A long time ago, I think this topic was discussed, and I think the general census was that the MD-11 was very hard to fly. From what I understand, you constantly have to keep trimming the aircraft because it's like flying around a swimming pool full of water, the center of gravity is constantly changing, but I know there are more reasons as to why people thought it was hard to fly.

Anyway, what say you?

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pilotaydin
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RE: What Is The Most Difficult Airliner To Fly?

Sun May 18, 2008 5:22 pm

well, im sure the autopilot system takes care of the trim issues, when you're hand flying the bird, i doubt the cg shifts enough to trim within 5-10 mins of handflying....

i would say any aircraft with a elipse wing is hard to fly, as far as stalling and recovering goes...
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DeltaAVL
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RE: What Is The Most Difficult Airliner To Fly?

Sun May 18, 2008 6:00 pm

The Metroliner was always supposed to be pretty difficult...
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OHLHD
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RE: What Is The Most Difficult Airliner To Fly?

Sun May 18, 2008 6:02 pm



Quoting UAL747 (Thread starter):
A long time ago, I think this topic was discussed, and I think the general census was that the MD-11 was very hard to fly

A MD-11 is hard to land if it is empty and not heavy afaik. I am sure WILCO737 can give us an answer on this question.  Smile
 
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RE: What Is The Most Difficult Airliner To Fly?

Sun May 18, 2008 6:15 pm

I have heard that the 727 is very difficult to grease on landings. Something to do with the placement of the main gear, I think.
 
Goldenshield
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RE: What Is The Most Difficult Airliner To Fly?

Sun May 18, 2008 6:25 pm

The Ford Tri-motor, from what I understand, is rather brutal (at today's standards) on the pilot.
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ferengi80
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RE: What Is The Most Difficult Airliner To Fly?

Sun May 18, 2008 6:25 pm

I don't know about in the air, but the A340-600 is difficult to manouveur when on the ground based on her massive length. I remember watching a DVD of a SAA A340 crew flying a delivery flight of an A346 routing TLS-JNB. The aircraft has a camera in the nose and a camera in the tail to enable the crew to see exactly where the airplane is at whilst taxiing.
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fritzi
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RE: What Is The Most Difficult Airliner To Fly?

Sun May 18, 2008 7:03 pm

I've never handled anything larger than a C206, but from what I've heard I'm guessing that the earliest models of the 707 are at the top of the list. Many of the surfaces lacked hydraulic motors which gave the pilots a real workout, especially during crosswind landings.

I've also heard that the Dash-8's are also a little bit tricker during landing because if you pull back on the yoke to flare low above the rwy you will smash the mains into the ground as they are behind the center of lift.

/Fritzi
 
SlamClick
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RE: What Is The Most Difficult Airliner To Fly?

Sun May 18, 2008 7:17 pm



Quoting Goldenshield (Reply 5):
The Ford Tri-motor, from what I understand, is rather brutal (at today's standards) on the pilot.

 rotfl 
I was thinking about the same airplane. One problem, I've been told is that there is almost no vertical fin - it's all rudder. As a result it yaws back and forth 'til you must think you are riding a salmon. On the other hand the most graceful groundloop I ever witnessed was a Ford Trimotor. It just caught a minor gust and he ran completely out of rudder. It just swooped around, using the whole infield, then proceeded on its way.

I have only flown eight jetliners from the fairly antique to the very modern. Not one of them was difficult to fly. Some were high-workload. Some were quite complex from a system knowledge point of view, but all were designed from the beginning to be mastered by pilots just about like me.
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CosmicCruiser
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RE: What Is The Most Difficult Airliner To Fly?

Sun May 18, 2008 8:26 pm



Quoting UAL747 (Thread starter):
I think the general census was that the MD-11 was very hard to fly. From what I understand, you constantly have to keep trimming the aircraft because it's like flying around a swimming pool full of water, the center of gravity is constantly changing, but I know there are more reasons as to why people thought it was hard to fly.

That's not true at all. The MD-11 is quite nice to fly but like most bigger jets it isn't fun to hand fly at altitude. I never saw any bad characteristics when I transitioned from the DC-10 and in fact think it flies much nicer than the 10. It is sensitive but not really a problem. The CG isn't constantly changing either. People still can't let go with the fact that that early software load for the LSAS wasa bugger during ldg but that is long ago history.

When I've j/s on our Airbuses they seem "stiff legged" and ldg seem a little hard.

Quoting OHLHD (Reply 3):
A MD-11 is hard to land if it is empty and not heavy afaik

I haven't seen an airliner that wasn't a bigger challenge to land when light wgt including the lovable 727. There's always an optimum wgt that's perfect but heavier is better.
 
CosmicCruiser
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RE: What Is The Most Difficult Airliner To Fly?

Sun May 18, 2008 8:28 pm

I meant to finish my above post with : if I thought the MD-11 was that difficult to fly I would have bid out to another jet long ago. I always look forward to flying it.
 
MrChips
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RE: What Is The Most Difficult Airliner To Fly?

Sun May 18, 2008 9:43 pm

Compared to other aircraft in it's class, the King Air family (including the Beech 1900) is a rather difficult aircraft to fly, mostly because the control forces are rather enormous. Smaller pilots often need to use both hands on the control column to rotate the aircraft.

And I can categorically tell you that despite it's terrible reputation, the Mitsubishi MU-2 is an absolute joy to fly; it just requires you to be cognizant of it's idiosyncrasies.
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UltimateDelta
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RE: What Is The Most Difficult Airliner To Fly?

Sun May 18, 2008 11:36 pm

Based on how the A321 on FSX handles, I'd say it ranks pretty high up there.
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Jetlagged
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RE: What Is The Most Difficult Airliner To Fly?

Mon May 19, 2008 12:30 am

Quoting UltimateDelta (Reply 12):
Based on how the A321 on FSX handles, I'd say it ranks pretty high up there.

What makes you think the FSX A321 is anything like a real A321 to fly?

You can buy an add on version of the A321 which is more realistic, but still not very close in terms of handling.

[Edited 2008-05-18 17:32:42]
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SlamClick
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RE: What Is The Most Difficult Airliner To Fly?

Mon May 19, 2008 1:31 am



Quoting UltimateDelta (Reply 12):
Based on how the A321 on FSX handles

There is the limitation on computer games. The A320 series doesn't "handle" at all. At least not in flight control normal law. There is no feedback to the stick. It is stable in the same manner as a spacecraft is stable. You simply make small stick inputs to point the thing where it needs to go and it goes there. And that is while hand-flying. With the autopilot on even I begin to feel like a passenger.
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pilotpip
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RE: What Is The Most Difficult Airliner To Fly?

Mon May 19, 2008 3:29 am

The most difficult airliner to fly is the one with a deferred coffee maker.
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KELPkid
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RE: What Is The Most Difficult Airliner To Fly?

Mon May 19, 2008 3:55 am

Suprised no one has said the Concorde yet...the pilots referred to it's approach technique as "keeping a ball on a pinnacle."

Also, I hear that turbocompound engines, as featured in the DC-7C (Seven Seas) , L1049 Super Connie and Boeing Stratocruiser were rather hard to successfully manage, and that mismanagement of such powerplants often led to engine fires and/or in flight shutdowns.
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HAWK21M
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RE: What Is The Most Difficult Airliner To Fly?

Mon May 19, 2008 7:49 am



Quoting Pilotpip (Reply 15):

The most difficult airliner to fly is the one with a deferred coffee maker.

I was thinking the same & to add u/s Autopilot  Smile

Older Aircraft would def be more difficult to fly in comparism to the more modern technological & automated new generation of Aircraft.

regds
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wilco737
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RE: What Is The Most Difficult Airliner To Fly?

Mon May 19, 2008 9:03 am



Quoting UAL747 (Thread starter):
MD-11 was very hard to fly.

I wouldn't say that! It's not too hard! Compared to a 737 yes, it's harder, but the CG doesn't shift every few seconds and if you trim your aircraft properly you can fly handfree  Wink

Quoting OHLHD (Reply 3):
A MD-11 is hard to land if it is empty and not heavy afaik. I am sure WILCO737 can give us an answer on this question. Smile



Quoting CosmicCruiser (Reply 9):
I haven't seen an airliner that wasn't a bigger challenge to land when light wgt

Oh yeah, the MD11 gets bitchy when she is light but even then it is possible but smooth touchdowns are nearly impossible then  Wink The heavier the MD11 is the better the landing will be! I did an overweight landing (in the Simulator) close to max take off weight, wow, that was good Big grin Stable in the air, smooth touchdown! but of course LONG runway required Big grin

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Qantas744er
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RE: What Is The Most Difficult Airliner To Fly?

Mon May 19, 2008 10:48 am



Quoting UltimateDelta (Reply 12):
Based on how the A321 on FSX handles, I'd say it ranks pretty high up there.

How does your armchair handle?

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RE: What Is The Most Difficult Airliner To Fly?

Mon May 19, 2008 4:08 pm



Quoting KELPkid (Reply 16):
Also, I hear that turbocompound engines, as featured in the DC-7C (Seven Seas) , L1049 Super Connie and Boeing Stratocruiser were rather hard to successfully manage, and that mismanagement of such powerplants often led to engine fires and/or in flight shutdowns.

Having flown all three types mentioned, engine management was straight-forward, provided that the book was followed, without diviation.
The B377 did not have turbocompound engines, but they were very complicated, nevertheless, 28 cylinders, a supercharger and a turbosupercharger

Early B707 aircraft, those without fan engines could be a slight problem for those pilots not accustomed to flying a large heavy airplane, without powered control surfaces.
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David L
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RE: What Is The Most Difficult Airliner To Fly?

Mon May 19, 2008 4:25 pm



Quoting Jetlagged (Reply 13):
Quoting UltimateDelta (Reply 12):
Based on how the A321 on FSX handles, I'd say it ranks pretty high up there.

What makes you think the FSX A321 is anything like a real A321 to fly?

 checkmark  The FSX version is awful, a token gesture. I suspect we'd be hard pressed to find many real FBW Airbus pilots who say any of them are difficult to fly. That's just my guess, obviously but we do hear from some of them from time to time here.

Quoting Jetlagged (Reply 13):
You can buy an add on version of the A321 which is more realistic, but still not very close in terms of handling.

There are a couple of promising ones that have been in development for ages. Maybe one day...
 
miamiair
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RE: What Is The Most Difficult Airliner To Fly?

Mon May 19, 2008 5:43 pm

I don't know about flying, they all have their idiosynchracies, but to get a squeaker in a 727 required luck, planetary alignment and a sacrificial virgin... Pulling the power levers to idle too soon in the flare was tantamount to dropping an anchor.
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GDB
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RE: What Is The Most Difficult Airliner To Fly?

Mon May 19, 2008 5:59 pm

I understood, that with the specific training, Concorde was easy enough to land, however, I await Air Net member Bellerphon's thoughts on this, since he is the expert in this instance.
 
Arniepie
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RE: What Is The Most Difficult Airliner To Fly?

Mon May 19, 2008 6:31 pm

I'm surprised nobody seems to think the Russian birds are hard to fly.
Certainly the Tu134/154, AN22/24/124/225 and the old IL62 must rank pretty high up there, no?
Seen they've practically all a 4 or 5 man cockpit the coordination and lack of automation must be pretty tough on the crew.

Nobody here has any more info on them?

[Edited 2008-05-19 11:34:57]
[edit post]
 
KELPkid
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RE: What Is The Most Difficult Airliner To Fly?

Mon May 19, 2008 7:39 pm



Quoting ArniePie (Reply 24):
I'm surprised nobody seems to think the Russian birds are hard to fly.

I think it's more a lack of knowledge on our parts than anything else. I do have a friend who's a US licensed commercial pilot (he was just a private pilot at the time of this, though) and was able to "pay" (it's amazing what a US $20 bill could do in the former Soviet republics in 1994) for some stick time (at cruise, of course) in a TU-154 Big grin. He asked the stewardess for a cockpit visit...
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KELPkid
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RE: What Is The Most Difficult Airliner To Fly?

Mon May 19, 2008 8:29 pm



Quoting WILCO737 (Reply 18):
I wouldn't say that! It's not too hard! Compared to a 737 yes, it's harder, but the CG doesn't shift every few seconds and if you trim your aircraft properly you can fly handfree

What, you mean boxes don't get up, en masse, after mealtime in flight to get in line to use the restrooms at the back of the economy section  eyebrow  Maybe the smart (or daft) ones sneak up front to use the first class potty  silly 
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wilco737
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RE: What Is The Most Difficult Airliner To Fly?

Mon May 19, 2008 8:33 pm



Quoting KELPkid (Reply 26):
What, you mean boxes don't get up, en masse, after mealtime in flight to get in line to use the restrooms at the back of the economy section eyebrow Maybe the smart (or daft) ones sneak up front to use the first class potty silly

 rotfl  It would scare the s*** out of me when I am sitting in my seat and all of a sudden someone is coming into the cockpit!!  rotfl 

On the 737 if you were handflying during cruise you had to retrim when the F/As were running through the cabin with their trolleys... but just a very little bit, but you had to trim...

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PGNCS
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RE: What Is The Most Difficult Airliner To Fly?

Mon May 19, 2008 11:15 pm



Quoting HAWK21M (Reply 17):
Older Aircraft would def be more difficult to fly in comparism to the more modern technological & automated new generation of Aircraft.

With the automation engaged, that is likely true, but hand flying will turn up exceptions to this, I think. I can think of no better flying aircraft than the L-1011. I am personally very partial to the Airbus FBW handling characteristics for ease of flying. Of the Boeings, the 757 is my favorite to fly.

Quoting ArniePie (Reply 24):
I'm surprised nobody seems to think the Russian birds are hard to fly.

I had that thought, too, but stopped to think that there probably aren't a lot of members here with tons of time in the Russian aircraft. I would love to hear about the character of these aircraft, if anyone has expertise here.
 
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RE: What Is The Most Difficult Airliner To Fly?

Tue May 20, 2008 3:01 am



Quoting Fritzi (Reply 7):
I've also heard that the Dash-8's are also a little bit tricker during landing because if you pull back on the yoke to flare low above the rwy you will smash the mains into the ground as they are behind the center of lift.

Very true. Adding to it is the tall main struts without much travel in the shock absorbing department. If you keep a constant pitch attitude throughout landing and use power to ease the airplane down, you can roll it on more often than not. The caveat is there will be times when you can't make a decent landing to save your life. True of any airplane probably.
 
nathanr
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RE: What Is The Most Difficult Airliner To Fly?

Tue May 20, 2008 3:27 pm

Why is the MD-11 hard to land when it is light weight?
 
wilco737
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RE: What Is The Most Difficult Airliner To Fly?

Tue May 20, 2008 4:11 pm



Quoting Nathanr (Reply 30):
Why is the MD-11 hard to land when it is light weight?

It is just somewhat unstable and every slightest control input you can feel and see with a slight turn or change in pitch. Every slight gust or wind will be felt by her and you have to correct, but not overcorrect... And with that light weight you don't flare at all. Just rise the nose a degree or so and wait for a touchdown...

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FlyASAGuy2005
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RE: What Is The Most Difficult Airliner To Fly?

Tue May 20, 2008 4:27 pm

Everyone is going to laugh but I heard the CRJ isn't the easiet "modern" jet to fly.

True? No?
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wilco737
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RE: What Is The Most Difficult Airliner To Fly?

Tue May 20, 2008 4:30 pm



Quoting FlyASAGuy2005 (Reply 32):
Everyone is going to laugh but I heard the CRJ isn't the easiet "modern" jet to fly.

Modern?!  rotfl  nah, just kidding! I heard it's a bit weird during landing, the nose is pretty far down and it feels weird... Just been once on the jumpseat of a CRJ during approach and it looked scary to me  Wink

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SlamClick
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RE: What Is The Most Difficult Airliner To Fly?

Tue May 20, 2008 4:46 pm

I've worked with, and flown with people who have sampled almost the entire spectrum from the Jenny to the Concorde. I'd have to say that, based on what I've been told over the years, probably the most difficult airplane to fly (not an airliner) in 'routine' operations would be the U-2.

It is my understanding that a normal visual approach is so touchy that many trainees wash out of the qualification course for inability to master it. These are very good fighter pilots who are accepted and who fail the checkout. The problem is, that incredible, long, high-aspect-ratio wing produces so much lift that it is very difficult to get it down. The normal visual approach is very shallow but still requires that you be pretty much unspooled. And remember, it is a straight-pipe turbojet of very old design and does not accelerate quickly at all.

Now that is all second-hand. Never flown the thing myself but it is a good example of a routine maneuver that takes all the skills an exceptionally good pilot can muster - every time the thing is flown. It is a maneuver you cannot avoid, or hope never happens to you.
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RE: What Is The Most Difficult Airliner To Fly?

Tue May 20, 2008 5:35 pm



Quoting SlamClick (Reply 34):
The problem is, that incredible, long, high-aspect-ratio wing produces so much lift that it is very difficult to get it down.

I heard that too. Apparently, there's dozens of them still up there, just circling the pattern.

Quoting SlamClick (Reply 8):
I have only flown eight jetliners from the fairly antique to the very modern.

I seem to recall you had some interesting comments about my namesake since it had some amusing characteristics, not least of which was the ability to descend like "a Simonized wine bottle* ". But in the great scheme of things, with all its British idiosyncrasies, was it a fair mistress overall? I got the impression you liked it, but I don't know how it compares to, say, a 737 in reality.

To put the cat among the pigeons, if you could only fly one airliner (prop or jet) for the rest of your career/life, which would it be? That's an open question to all participants.



* From memory, so that may not be exactly what you said.
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SlamClick
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RE: What Is The Most Difficult Airliner To Fly?

Tue May 20, 2008 5:43 pm



Quoting BAe146QT (Reply 35):
in the great scheme of things, with all its British idiosyncrasies, was it a fair mistress overall?

Actually I liked it very much. It wasn't much of a performer, other than its ability to slow down, descend, and stop. Admirable traits all, but rather the opposite virtues one usually associates with jets. I guess it was almost a jet. I wouldn't mind flying one again. It was quite pleasant.

Its main defect was not the lack of speed, but the poor dispatch reliability and high maintenance cost. If that's been mended it ought to be a nice short-haul transport.
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Jetlagged
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RE: What Is The Most Difficult Airliner To Fly?

Tue May 20, 2008 7:19 pm



Quoting David L (Reply 21):
I suspect we'd be hard pressed to find many real FBW Airbus pilots who say any of them are difficult to fly. That's just my guess, obviously but we do hear from some of them from time to time here.

The nearest I will get to flying the real thing is in a full flight simulator. From my experience in an A320 sim, it's easier than any other sim I've flown. In fact I think they could rename Normal Law "Arcade Mode".  Wink

Quoting David L (Reply 21):
There are a couple of promising ones that have been in development for ages. Maybe one day...

True, but a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush, literally in this case. The complexity of producing a "complete" simulation of these things is beyond the usual add-on designers capabilities. The limitations of the most recent example to be published are worth accepting as a compromise.

In terms of other full flight sims I have had the pleasure of flying, I initially found the 727 very easy, until I flew other sims! Must have been beginners luck (this was back in the days before MSFS gave everyone the chance to have a little practice). The hardest FFS I have ever encountered was an E-3D, which combined superman standard lateral control forces and sluggish response not helped by the enormous radome.
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KELPkid
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RE: What Is The Most Difficult Airliner To Fly?

Tue May 20, 2008 7:21 pm



Quoting Jetlagged (Reply 37):
The nearest I will get to flying the real thing is in a full flight simulator. From my experience in an A320 sim, it's easier than any other sim I've flown. In fact I think they could rename Normal Law "Arcade Mode".

Do the EFIS screens flash "Game Over Insert Coins" when the session comes to an end?  laughing 
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wilco737
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RE: What Is The Most Difficult Airliner To Fly?

Tue May 20, 2008 7:23 pm



Quoting KELPkid (Reply 38):
Do the EFIS screens flash "Game Over Insert Coins" when the session comes to an end? laughing

Sometimes when you take over an aircraft from another crew they put in the scratchpad of the MCDU:

"Game over insert coin" but I never found the slot to insert coin! But it worked anyway Big grin

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CosmicCruiser
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RE: What Is The Most Difficult Airliner To Fly?

Tue May 20, 2008 10:03 pm



Quoting Nathanr (Reply 30):
Why is the MD-11 hard to land when it is light weight?

To me it was just like other jets that when light it wants to float, flare too early and it floats forever then drops, flare too late and you still smack the ground. The 727 was very bad about that as well.
 
DashTrash
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RE: What Is The Most Difficult Airliner To Fly?

Wed May 21, 2008 4:13 am



Quoting CosmicCruiser (Reply 40):
To me it was just like other jets that when light it wants to float, flare too early and it floats forever then drops, flare too late and you still smack the ground.

I think that describes every swept wing airplane ever flown!
 
ThirtyEcho
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RE: What Is The Most Difficult Airliner To Fly?

Wed May 21, 2008 6:54 am

How did this turn into an MSFS thread?

The most difficult airplane for an MSFS "pilot" to fly?

A real airplane.
 
wilco737
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RE: What Is The Most Difficult Airliner To Fly?

Wed May 21, 2008 7:29 am

Quoting ThirtyEcho (Reply 42):
How did this turn into an MSFS thread?

The most difficult airplane for an MSFS "pilot" to fly?

A real airplane.

This is the typical A.net phenomenon

But SlamClick, CosmicCruiser, WILCO737 and some other were talking about the REAL stuff !

WILCO737 (MD11F)


[Edited 2008-05-21 00:30:06]
 
David L
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RE: What Is The Most Difficult Airliner To Fly?

Wed May 21, 2008 10:28 am



Quoting ThirtyEcho (Reply 42):
How did this turn into an MSFS thread?

Come on - it was only a brief diversion.  Smile
 
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Jetlagged
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RE: What Is The Most Difficult Airliner To Fly?

Wed May 21, 2008 4:16 pm



Quoting ThirtyEcho (Reply 42):
How did this turn into an MSFS thread?

The most difficult airplane for an MSFS "pilot" to fly?

A real airplane.

I was mainly talking about flying full flight sims (which, after all, should be very close to how the actual aircraft handles), but as MSFS was mentioned I commented on that too.
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DashTrash
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RE: What Is The Most Difficult Airliner To Fly?

Wed May 21, 2008 4:23 pm



Quoting Jetlagged (Reply 45):
I was mainly talking about flying full flight sims (which, after all, should be very close to how the actual aircraft handles), but as MSFS was mentioned I commented on that too.

Please don't take this as flame, but full motion flight sims don't fly like the real airplane in most cases. They give you an idea of how it handles and are useful in teaching the cockpit procedures, switch placement, flows, etc. None of the sims I've been in represented the airplane very well overall.
 
FlyASAGuy2005
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RE: What Is The Most Difficult Airliner To Fly?

Wed May 21, 2008 4:41 pm



Quoting DashTrash (Reply 46):

I've heard the same. Sometimes it works out in the crew's favor. An ATR captain told me that the sims at flight Safety (he's with ASA) are a little harder to fly than the real thing for whatever reason.
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wilco737
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RE: What Is The Most Difficult Airliner To Fly?

Wed May 21, 2008 4:43 pm



Quoting FlyASAGuy2005 (Reply 47):
An ATR captain told me that the sims at flight Safety (he's with ASA) are a little harder to fly than the real thing for whatever reason.

because it is not the real thing! And everything (motion, acceleration) is only simulated! Believe it or not, the feeling and the hearing and seeing outside is part of flying as well! And that is what you don't have in the full flight sims! I prefer the real thing over the sim everyday!

WILCO737 (MD11F)
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SlamClick
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RE: What Is The Most Difficult Airliner To Fly?

Wed May 21, 2008 5:06 pm



Quoting DashTrash (Reply 46):



Quoting FlyASAGuy2005 (Reply 47):



Quoting WILCO737 (Reply 48):

I'd have to say that simulators work better for jets than for turboprops and better for glass cockpits than for steam gauges. Most modern jets have very quiet cockpits and the simulated noises are just background, not all that important. Also, the better the visual, the better the simulation. The best of them are a little cartoonish as they try to emulate daytime conditions, but for night and low-visibility, which are the more critical environments, they do a pretty good job.

The last six jets I checked out in I flew for the very first time with paying passengers in the back. No surprises, no adjustments to be made, the experience was just like the simulator.

I think a more important factor in realism is "unreal" practices, pretending to get the ATIS, goofing off with ATC communications, stopping flying the airplane to discuss training matters with the instructor and things like that. When you do this it jerks you out of the "airplane" and into the simulator. Kind of like when an actor turns and talks to the camera in a movie.
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