Martinlest
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When is the A/P disengaged on landing?

Wed Nov 27, 2019 7:20 pm

OK, assuming we are not switching of the autopilot 'early' to hand fly to the runway, at what point would a pilot disengage the A/P for a full autoland? Perhaps there are options, but according to videos I have seen the A/P is often switched off a short time after the nosegear is on the ground.Seem to recall that the A/P can also help keep the a/c on the center line, but not sure if I remember that correctly.

Also read in forums that the very latest a pilot can turn off the A/P is at DH. Surely not?

Any real-world pilots able to help? Is this different in any way between Airbus and Boeings?

Thanks!

Martin
 
chimborazo
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Re: When is the A/P disengaged on landing?

Wed Nov 27, 2019 8:15 pm

In a “full auto land” the autopilot wouldn’t be switched off. Depending on Cat level- don’t quote me on this - but Cat3b includes roll out. Have a look on Wikipedia for the different categories and what level of “auto” there is.
As I understand it on Boeings, in a go-around the autopilot drops out but in more recent Airbus types the autopilot stays in.

Starlion will tell us about the Airbus ones...
 
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Starlionblue
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Re: When is the A/P disengaged on landing?

Wed Nov 27, 2019 9:17 pm

Airbus perspective:

As chimborazo says for a full autoland the autopilots (plural) stay in until rollout. The AP is still controlling the aircraft on the ground so that it tracks the centerline. In you're really in Cat III, and thus can hardly see, you'd leave them in you slow to taxi speed. If you can actually see some ways down the runway, disengage at pilot's discretion during the rollout You have to disengage the autopilots in order to vacate the runway.

In Cat III conditions, autoland is required. However, if you are visual, the autopilots can be disengaged just as on any other landing. The lowest permitted disengagement height is 80 feet. Probably because any lower the aircraft is pretty much flaring, which is probably not the best time to revert to manual flight.

On the 'bus, if you're still in autoflight when on an ILS approach, both autopilots are engaged, and the autoflight modes support a go-around. Further on, reversion to manual flight, and sometimes manual thrust.

In a go-around in the 'bus, the autopilot(s) stay engaged. (Not only most recent. The A330 works this way too.) Just put the thrust levers at TOGA and the aircraft will pitch up and engage the pertinent modes.
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Martinlest
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Re: When is the A/P disengaged on landing?

Wed Nov 27, 2019 11:31 pm

Thank you very much. I have certainly seen some nonsense (on some other forums) on this subject, as I suspected. :-)
 
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zeke
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Re: When is the A/P disengaged on landing?

Thu Nov 28, 2019 5:22 am

Martinlest wrote:
at what point would a pilot disengage the A/P for a full autoland?


In real low visibility conditions I leave the autopilot and auto brake engaged for as long as possible on the runway to get the aircraft down to a safe speed.

In real low visibility conditions you cannot make out the runway edges.

Everything on the ground is done a lot slower in low visibility, and there are specific runway exits you must take, and specific taxi routes. Sometimes it so bad you need a follow me car.
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hitower3
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Re: When is the A/P disengaged on landing?

Thu Nov 28, 2019 9:19 am

Starlionblue wrote:
Airbus perspective:

As chimborazo says for a full autoland the autopilots (plural) stay in until rollout.


Hello Starlionblue,

Just chiming in with a stupid question: How is this "dual autopilot" thing working?
I assume there are two autopilot systems in commercial aircraft for redundancy reasons, perhaps even linked to RVSM etc. Correct?
Now, why would pilots use the two A/P at the same time? How do they "work together"? Is one A/P controlling e.g. speed and power, whereas the other one takes care of heading and altitude? Is A/P2 simply on standby, waiting to take over in case A/P1 has got some problems? What happens if only one A/P is engaged, the other one switched off?

Many thanks in advance for your clarifications.

Hendric
 
Woodreau
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Re: When is the A/P disengaged on landing?

Thu Nov 28, 2019 11:44 am

There is no set time you have to disconnect the autopilot after an autoland other than before you try to vacate the runway.

The prudent thing to do is to wait to disconnect the autopilot until you have sufficient visual references to navigate the aircraft safely on the ground.

One thing sim instructors would like to do after a 300RVR autoland is if you disconnected the autopilot right after touching down and were still travelling at 80+ kts was to plunge you into 0/0.

Well what are you going to do now, captain? Definitely got you off the tendency to disconnect the autopilot

On the airbus the aircraft will annunciate to the crew the landing capability of the aircraft

CAT 1 / CAT 2 / CAT 3 SINGLE / CAT 3 DUAL

It has nothing to do with the actual ILs approach being made.

the FMA annunciator tells you what the aircraft is capable of.

If you didn’t arm the second autopilot then the aircraft will only annunciate CAT 3 SINGLE. It will still autoland but with reduced redundancy and the crew will need to do things manually that the airplane would normally do.
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fr8mech
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Re: When is the A/P disengaged on landing?

Thu Nov 28, 2019 12:10 pm

hitower3 wrote:

Hello Starlionblue,

Just chiming in with a stupid question: How is this "dual autopilot" thing working?
I assume there are two autopilot systems in commercial aircraft for redundancy reasons, perhaps even linked to RVSM etc. Correct?
Now, why would pilots use the two A/P at the same time? How do they "work together"? Is one A/P controlling e.g. speed and power, whereas the other one takes care of heading and altitude? Is A/P2 simply on standby, waiting to take over in case A/P1 has got some problems? What happens if only one A/P is engaged, the other one switched off?

Many thanks in advance for your clarifications.

Hendric


Dual or triple autopilot is what Cat-3 autoland is all about. On the B757/767 you have 3 autopilots that are architecturally separate, but compare with each other during an autoland. As I recall, 1500 feet RA is the magic altitude when all 3 autopilots engage and are isolated from each other. If everything looks good, all 3 remain engaged and fly the aircraft for landing.

The autoland status annunciator (ASA) keeps the crew informed of what the aircraft is currently capable of, based on the operational status of the various aircraft systems. LAND 3 is a fully operational autoland system.

The aircraft can land with only one autopilot engaged, but will have reduced redundancy and higher minimums will be imposed.
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Starlionblue
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Re: When is the A/P disengaged on landing?

Thu Nov 28, 2019 2:20 pm

fr8mech wrote:
hitower3 wrote:

Hello Starlionblue,

Just chiming in with a stupid question: How is this "dual autopilot" thing working?
I assume there are two autopilot systems in commercial aircraft for redundancy reasons, perhaps even linked to RVSM etc. Correct?
Now, why would pilots use the two A/P at the same time? How do they "work together"? Is one A/P controlling e.g. speed and power, whereas the other one takes care of heading and altitude? Is A/P2 simply on standby, waiting to take over in case A/P1 has got some problems? What happens if only one A/P is engaged, the other one switched off?

Many thanks in advance for your clarifications.

Hendric


Dual or triple autopilot is what Cat-3 autoland is all about. On the B757/767 you have 3 autopilots that are architecturally separate, but compare with each other during an autoland. As I recall, 1500 feet RA is the magic altitude when all 3 autopilots engage and are isolated from each other. If everything looks good, all 3 remain engaged and fly the aircraft for landing.

The autoland status annunciator (ASA) keeps the crew informed of what the aircraft is currently capable of, based on the operational status of the various aircraft systems. LAND 3 is a fully operational autoland system.

The aircraft can land with only one autopilot engaged, but will have reduced redundancy and higher minimums will be imposed.


The Airbus case is very similar. Two autopilots are engaged for redundancy. If either fails, the other is still there. Hence "fail operational".

Important note which I think is often overlooked when talking about instrument approaches. The aircraft cannot "see" the weather and does not "know" the conditions, e.g. Cat II. Handling the aircraft according to the conditions is up to the pilots.
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Starlionblue
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Re: When is the A/P disengaged on landing?

Thu Nov 28, 2019 11:56 pm

I'll add that you can only have both autopilots engaged if you have an ILS approach in the FMS. You then get "Cat III Dual" (A330) or "Land III Dual" (A350) indicating that you can do an autoland and the system is "fail operational". That is, if one autopilot fails the aircraft can still perform an autoland but would revert to "Cat III Single"/"Land III Single", which is "fail passive"..

In other cases, e.g. climb, cruise or VOR approach, if you already have an autopilot engaged and press the other one, it will simply take over and the first one will disengage.
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tommy1808
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Re: When is the A/P disengaged on landing?

Mon Dec 02, 2019 11:37 am

Starlionblue wrote:
fr8mech wrote:
hitower3 wrote:

Hello Starlionblue,

Just chiming in with a stupid question: How is this "dual autopilot" thing working?
I assume there are two autopilot systems in commercial aircraft for redundancy reasons, perhaps even linked to RVSM etc. Correct?
Now, why would pilots use the two A/P at the same time? How do they "work together"? Is one A/P controlling e.g. speed and power, whereas the other one takes care of heading and altitude? Is A/P2 simply on standby, waiting to take over in case A/P1 has got some problems? What happens if only one A/P is engaged, the other one switched off?

Many thanks in advance for your clarifications.

Hendric


Dual or triple autopilot is what Cat-3 autoland is all about. On the B757/767 you have 3 autopilots that are architecturally separate, but compare with each other during an autoland. As I recall, 1500 feet RA is the magic altitude when all 3 autopilots engage and are isolated from each other. If everything looks good, all 3 remain engaged and fly the aircraft for landing.

The autoland status annunciator (ASA) keeps the crew informed of what the aircraft is currently capable of, based on the operational status of the various aircraft systems. LAND 3 is a fully operational autoland system.

The aircraft can land with only one autopilot engaged, but will have reduced redundancy and higher minimums will be imposed.


The Airbus case is very similar. Two autopilots are engaged for redundancy. If either fails, the other is still there. Hence "fail operational".


Are the Airbus APs internally master/checker/checker designs or how do they address diverging AP outputs?

Best regards
Thomas
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Starlionblue
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Re: When is the A/P disengaged on landing?

Mon Dec 02, 2019 12:28 pm

tommy1808 wrote:
Starlionblue wrote:
fr8mech wrote:

Dual or triple autopilot is what Cat-3 autoland is all about. On the B757/767 you have 3 autopilots that are architecturally separate, but compare with each other during an autoland. As I recall, 1500 feet RA is the magic altitude when all 3 autopilots engage and are isolated from each other. If everything looks good, all 3 remain engaged and fly the aircraft for landing.

The autoland status annunciator (ASA) keeps the crew informed of what the aircraft is currently capable of, based on the operational status of the various aircraft systems. LAND 3 is a fully operational autoland system.

The aircraft can land with only one autopilot engaged, but will have reduced redundancy and higher minimums will be imposed.


The Airbus case is very similar. Two autopilots are engaged for redundancy. If either fails, the other is still there. Hence "fail operational".


Are the Airbus APs internally master/checker/checker designs or how do they address diverging AP outputs?

Best regards
Thomas


If both are engaged, AP1 is "active" and AP2 is "in standby". (They can only be engaged simultaneously with LOC/GS, ROLL OUT or GO AROUND modes are armed or engaged.) So AFAIK even if one diverged from the other, AP1 would stay engaged unless it specifically failed.

Important in context is that the autopilots don't calculate the desired flight path. The guidance system (FMGES on the A330, FG on the A350) calculates guidance. The autopilots act on this guidance by flying the aircraft along the commanded flight path. (Similarly, the meatbag pilots can act on the guidance by following the flight director(s).)
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tommy1808
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Re: When is the A/P disengaged on landing?

Mon Dec 02, 2019 1:25 pm

Starlionblue wrote:
tommy1808 wrote:
Starlionblue wrote:

The Airbus case is very similar. Two autopilots are engaged for redundancy. If either fails, the other is still there. Hence "fail operational".


Are the Airbus APs internally master/checker/checker designs or how do they address diverging AP outputs?

Best regards
Thomas


If both are engaged, AP1 is "active" and AP2 is "in standby". (They can only be engaged simultaneously with LOC/GS, ROLL OUT or GO AROUND modes are armed or engaged.) So AFAIK even if one diverged from the other, AP1 would stay engaged unless it specifically failed.


So i would think (and hope) that there is some redundancy inside each AP to make sure that no flipped/fused bit messing with the output? Or does the guidence system catch the AP doing nonsense?

Background of the questions: The Boeing systems as per statements above seems to use 3x AP in Master/Checker/Checker configuration, but in modern systems that is essentially done on PCB or even on Chip, so i am curious where Airbus has that.

best regards
Thomas
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Moosefire
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Re: When is the A/P disengaged on landing?

Mon Dec 02, 2019 4:54 pm

Assuming the OP is asking about routine operations (autolands are seldom routine). 9 times out of 10 the AP is clicked off between 1500’-1000’ AGL. Autothrottles can depend on fleet. Flying the MD-10 and -11 I will generally land the -11 with ATs on, and the -10 with them off (turning them off about 300’).
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fr8mech
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Re: When is the A/P disengaged on landing?

Mon Dec 02, 2019 5:06 pm

tommy1808 wrote:
So i would think (and hope) that there is some redundancy inside each AP to make sure that no flipped/fused bit messing with the output? Or does the guidence system catch the AP doing nonsense?

Background of the questions: The Boeing systems as per statements above seems to use 3x AP in Master/Checker/Checker configuration, but in modern systems that is essentially done on PCB or even on Chip, so i am curious where Airbus has that.

best regards
Thomas


I can’t recall if the various Airbus autopilot FCC’s are dual channel, but something to keep in mind is that the FCC continuously monitors itself for faults. The severity of the fault will determine the FCC’s response to the fault. The computer may just record it for future retrieval by maintenance, or it may disconnect. The FCC’s are also monitoring all external inputs for valid and reasonable data.
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Re: When is the A/P disengaged on landing?

Mon Dec 02, 2019 5:36 pm

How frequently is the autopilot disengaged before touchdown and the aircraft flared manually?
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Re: When is the A/P disengaged on landing?

Mon Dec 02, 2019 5:46 pm

BWIAirport wrote:
How frequently is the autopilot disengaged before touchdown and the aircraft flared manually?


I would say 99%+ are manually landed.
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BWIAirport
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Re: When is the A/P disengaged on landing?

Mon Dec 02, 2019 6:22 pm

zeke wrote:
BWIAirport wrote:
How frequently is the autopilot disengaged before touchdown and the aircraft flared manually?


I would say 99%+ are manually landed.

Is the A/P normally disengaged around minimums?
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zeke
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Re: When is the A/P disengaged on landing?

Mon Dec 02, 2019 6:37 pm

BWIAirport wrote:
Is the A/P normally disengaged around minimums?


That will depend on the individual airlines SOP, I typically wait until I have been cleared to land.
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e38
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Re: When is the A/P disengaged on landing?

Mon Dec 02, 2019 6:58 pm

Quoting BWIAirport (Reply # 18), "Is the A/P normally disengaged around minimums?"

It depends . . .

if the approach is being conducted in Instrument Meteorological Conditions (IMC), our company policy is to leave the autopilot engaged until acquiring the runway visually. The thought behind this is that if the weather goes below minimums on the approach and you do not see the runway environment at decision altitude, you execute a missed approach with the autopilot still engaged. If the weather is IMC but above minimums, I normally disconnect the autopilot shortly after I see the runway because I want to get a "feel" of the aircraft without the autopilot engaged. Some pilots with whom I fly leave it engaged until decision altitude--but it's not required once the aircraft breaks out of the weather. In VMC conditions, I tend to leave the autopilot engage for maneuvering in the terminal area, but I always disconnect it somewhere around 1000 - 2000 feet AGL (3-6 miles from the runway). Occasionally if the weather is good, I just disconnect the autopilot at 10,000 feet or so and hand fly the last 30 miles of the approach.

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Re: When is the A/P disengaged on landing?

Mon Dec 02, 2019 11:47 pm

tommy1808 wrote:
Starlionblue wrote:
tommy1808 wrote:

Are the Airbus APs internally master/checker/checker designs or how do they address diverging AP outputs?

Best regards
Thomas


If both are engaged, AP1 is "active" and AP2 is "in standby". (They can only be engaged simultaneously with LOC/GS, ROLL OUT or GO AROUND modes are armed or engaged.) So AFAIK even if one diverged from the other, AP1 would stay engaged unless it specifically failed.


So i would think (and hope) that there is some redundancy inside each AP to make sure that no flipped/fused bit messing with the output? Or does the guidence system catch the AP doing nonsense?

Background of the questions: The Boeing systems as per statements above seems to use 3x AP in Master/Checker/Checker configuration, but in modern systems that is essentially done on PCB or even on Chip, so i am curious where Airbus has that.

best regards
Thomas


A couple of safeguards ensuring guidance stays correct are that at 700 feet the FM data is frozen, and at 400 feet the FCU (glareshield controls) is frozen. So you can't inhibit ILS tuning on the FM below 700 feet. And you can't change the FCU.

The APs do self-check that they are working through their feedback loops. Surface deflection commands should result in desired changes to trajectory. More importantly, the pilots can see if the trajectory is being followed. Again, as mentioned above the desired trajectory is not computed by the autopilots. If the AP deviates from the flight director(s) this will be apparent. If LOC or GS beams are lost for more than seven seconds the FD bars will flash, and modes will revert to HDG V/S.

The pilots are part of the monitoring as well. On the ILS we can see the raw beam data with the GS and LOC diamonds, plus raw data radio altitude and DME.
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tommy1808
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Re: When is the A/P disengaged on landing?

Tue Dec 03, 2019 5:32 am

Starlionblue wrote:
tommy1808 wrote:
Starlionblue wrote:

If both are engaged, AP1 is "active" and AP2 is "in standby". (They can only be engaged simultaneously with LOC/GS, ROLL OUT or GO AROUND modes are armed or engaged.) So AFAIK even if one diverged from the other, AP1 would stay engaged unless it specifically failed.


So i would think (and hope) that there is some redundancy inside each AP to make sure that no flipped/fused bit messing with the output? Or does the guidence system catch the AP doing nonsense?

Background of the questions: The Boeing systems as per statements above seems to use 3x AP in Master/Checker/Checker configuration, but in modern systems that is essentially done on PCB or even on Chip, so i am curious where Airbus has that.

best regards
Thomas


A couple of safeguards ensuring guidance stays correct are that at 700 feet the FM data is frozen, and at 400 feet the FCU (glareshield controls) is frozen. So you can't inhibit ILS tuning on the FM below 700 feet. And you can't change the FCU.

The APs do self-check that they are working through their feedback loops. Surface deflection commands should result in desired changes to trajectory. More importantly, the pilots can see if the trajectory is being followed. Again, as mentioned above the desired trajectory is not computed by the autopilots. If the AP deviates from the flight director(s) this will be apparent. If LOC or GS beams are lost for more than seven seconds the FD bars will flash, and modes will revert to HDG V/S.

The pilots are part of the monitoring as well. On the ILS we can see the raw beam data with the GS and LOC diamonds, plus raw data radio altitude and DME.


Ah, ok. Thank you very much for explaining.

best regards
Thomas
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AABusDrvr
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Re: When is the A/P disengaged on landing?

Tue Dec 03, 2019 8:41 pm

zeke wrote:
BWIAirport wrote:
How frequently is the autopilot disengaged before touchdown and the aircraft flared manually?


I would say 99%+ are manually landed.



For many 737 crews, every landing is a manual landing. In the US at least, I'm only aware of one major 737 operator that uses auto land. Everyone else (my place included) uses the HUD, the autopilot has to be off at 1000', even for a CAT III. Technically, on a CAT I, we could leave it on until 50', but I've never seen anyone use it that low. Almost always off by 1000'.
 
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Re: When is the A/P disengaged on landing?

Wed Dec 04, 2019 4:37 pm

Question: once on the ground, how does the aircraft track the centerline? Is it still using the localizer? Or is it tracking the centerline lights/markings? Or some combo of both?
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Starlionblue
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Re: When is the A/P disengaged on landing?

Thu Dec 05, 2019 4:55 am

vikkyvik wrote:
Question: once on the ground, how does the aircraft track the centerline? Is it still using the localizer? Or is it tracking the centerline lights/markings? Or some combo of both?


It is tracking the localiser. The aircraft can't see anything in the visible spectrum, so it can't track markings or lights.
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