Moderators: richierich, ua900, PanAm_DC10, hOMSaR

 
convair880mfan
Topic Author
Posts: 253
Joined: Fri Jun 25, 2021 12:33 am

Are four engine airliners harder to handle than twins?

Mon Sep 06, 2021 10:24 pm

A former TWA 707 captain told me that the 707 could be a hand full because of all those engines. He said it was like a truck compared to the Convair 880 and the Boeing 727. He had no experience with twins though. Is that your experience too as someone who has flown four engine aircraft?
 
GalaxyFlyer
Posts: 8593
Joined: Fri Jan 01, 2016 4:44 am

Re: Are four engine airliners harder to handle than twins?

Mon Sep 06, 2021 10:54 pm

No, but the B707 was all mechanical controls except for rudder hydraulic boost, so it was a handful because of the forces required. The C-5 was an absolute baby carriage, lighter than the bizjets I flew. I’ve flown one, two, three and four engine jets.
 
convair880mfan
Topic Author
Posts: 253
Joined: Fri Jun 25, 2021 12:33 am

Re: Are four engine airliners harder to handle than twins?

Mon Sep 06, 2021 11:18 pm

Thanks GalaxyFlyer!
 
LH707330
Posts: 2545
Joined: Fri Jun 15, 2012 11:27 pm

Re: Are four engine airliners harder to handle than twins?

Tue Sep 07, 2021 3:04 am

It was either Joe Sutter's book "747" or Serling's "Legend and Legacy" that mentioned this, when Boeing went to do the 727 they got a guy from Lockheed to come back from retirement to help them with the control system. That's a big reason the flight controls are much better on that one. The first 707s didn't even have powered rudders until D P Davies and his cert crew told Boeing they wouldn't certify the 707 without a better system. That's when the taller fins came into the picture. Early 100s, 200s, 300s, and 400s had the short fin until they were retrofitted, while the later 300B/C came only with the tall ones.

I think the biggest jet built with un-powered controls was the Il-62, which reportedly also handled like a truck. That one also happened to be a quad, so you could say that a number of the unwieldy planes were quads, but there wasn't anything inherent about the four-engined configuration that made them that hard to deal with.

For newer aircraft, the A330 and A340 are basically the same from a control and handling standpoint, leaving aside climbs at MTOW. They're programmed to have the same behavior and response, so at a given gross weight, they'll behave basically the same. You may have to be a bit more careful with outboard engines on skinny taxiways, but that's about it.
 
estorilm
Posts: 830
Joined: Fri Jan 16, 2009 3:07 am

Re: Are four engine airliners harder to handle than twins?

Wed Sep 08, 2021 6:59 pm

GalaxyFlyer wrote:
No, but the B707 was all mechanical controls except for rudder hydraulic boost, so it was a handful because of the forces required. The C-5 was an absolute baby carriage, lighter than the bizjets I flew. I’ve flown one, two, three and four engine jets.

That's really interesting about the C-5, did you fly the ones with the "cool" engines aka TF-39? They do always seem to have good landings from all the videos and spotting stuff I've seen, but I guess you get some immense ground-effect from those huge wings as well.
 
GalaxyFlyer
Posts: 8593
Joined: Fri Jan 01, 2016 4:44 am

Re: Are four engine airliners harder to handle than twins?

Wed Sep 08, 2021 9:41 pm

I only flew the TF-39s, retired from USAF before the new engines. The HT-90 hot section mod, however was a pretty nice boost in cruise performance once we had enough for all four positions to be installed. Easy to fly, if you working at it, you could land the aft mains, then the forward mains, then the nose gear. That required an aft CoG, like doing doing training, loaded trying that was risky.
 
luckyone
Posts: 4092
Joined: Thu Aug 21, 2008 1:50 pm

Re: Are four engine airliners harder to handle than twins?

Thu Sep 09, 2021 3:32 am

convair880mfan wrote:
A former TWA 707 captain told me that the 707 could be a hand full because of all those engines. He said it was like a truck compared to the Convair 880 and the Boeing 727. He had no experience with twins though. Is that your experience too as someone who has flown four engine aircraft?

Did he attempt to reconcile his comment about “all those engines,” with the fact that the Convair 880 also had four engines?
 
seven47
Posts: 35
Joined: Sun Feb 02, 2014 2:17 am

Re: Are four engine airliners harder to handle than twins?

Sat Sep 11, 2021 12:44 pm

I currently fly the 757-200F and the 767-300F, and I previously flew the 747-100F, -200F, and -400F. In my opinion, the 747 "Classics" were the best handling airliners that I've flown to date. Their mass and inertia make them very stable throughout the flight regime, and they were the easiest jets I've ever landed. I was a 747 Instructor/ Evaluator for 8 years, and I used to tell my new students that you really have to work hard to make a bad landing in the 747!

Another added bonus is the fact that an engine failure in a 4 engine jet is a much less complex exercise than in a twin, both from a handling standpoint and a contingency standpoint, due to the additional operating engine giving you thrust and helping with directional control. The 757/767, for instance, are more challenging to fly with an engine out than the 747, and you have far fewer options for where you can go with a single powerplant.
 
User avatar
ElroyJetson
Posts: 1036
Joined: Fri May 26, 2017 5:04 am

Re: Are four engine airliners harder to handle than twins?

Tue Sep 14, 2021 1:26 am

seven47 wrote:
I currently fly the 757-200F and the 767-300F, and I previously flew the 747-100F, -200F, and -400F. In my opinion, the 747 "Classics" were the best handling airliners that I've flown to date. Their mass and inertia make them very stable throughout the flight regime, and they were the easiest jets I've ever landed. I was a 747 Instructor/ Evaluator for 8 years, and I used to tell my new students that you really have to work hard to make a bad landing in the 747!

Another added bonus is the fact that an engine failure in a 4 engine jet is a much less complex exercise than in a twin, both from a handling standpoint and a contingency standpoint, due to the additional operating engine giving you thrust and helping with directional control. The 757/767, for instance, are more challenging to fly with an engine out than the 747, and you have far fewer options for where you can go with a single powerplant.



Interesting observations regarding the 747 classic. I remember being on a TWA 747 from LHR to JFK as a kid. The landing at JFK felt like a feather touching a pillow. Unbelievably quiet and gentle. I never recall a softer smoother landing in all the hundreds of flights I have been on since. At the time I assumed the TWA pilot must have been the best Captain in their fleet. :)
 
seven47
Posts: 35
Joined: Sun Feb 02, 2014 2:17 am

Re: Are four engine airliners harder to handle than twins?

Tue Sep 14, 2021 3:25 am

Ha! The TWA Captain may have been the best in the fleet, but I DEFINITELY wasn't, and I managed to get fairly consistently smooth landings most of the time. That's not to say that I never occasionally impacted the planet, which I've definitely done, but they were fewer and further between than other jets (and turboprops) I've flown.

On a side note, I found the "big top" 747s, with the stretched upper decks, to be much less forgiving during landing, especially in crosswinds. The upper deck acted like a sail, and made the landings more challenging.
 
T54A
Posts: 379
Joined: Mon Oct 19, 2015 11:47 am

Re: Are four engine airliners harder to handle than twins?

Tue Sep 14, 2021 9:08 pm

I flew A330-200, A330-300, A340-300, A340-600 and A350-900 all as a common fleet. There is no difficulty difference between them. The A340-600 did handle like a much bigger aircraft, which it was at 368t MTOW, and had to be operated accordingly. But it wasn’t more difficult.
 
seven47
Posts: 35
Joined: Sun Feb 02, 2014 2:17 am

Re: Are four engine airliners harder to handle than twins?

Wed Sep 15, 2021 2:47 am

I've always found it interesting that Airbus pilots are allowed to fly so many different variations of aircraft.
 
User avatar
Starlionblue
Posts: 20867
Joined: Fri Feb 27, 2004 9:54 pm

Re: Are four engine airliners harder to handle than twins?

Wed Sep 15, 2021 8:53 am

seven47 wrote:
I've always found it interesting that Airbus pilots are allowed to fly so many different variations of aircraft.


By design, Airbus aircraft are very similar in cockpit and procedures. From the example above, the A330 and A340 are pretty much the same aircraft type. The A350 is a bit different but certainly close enough for a common rating.

Just as one example, the A330 and A350 cockpits look somewhat different, but the same interface philosophy is used on both.
 
T54A
Posts: 379
Joined: Mon Oct 19, 2015 11:47 am

Re: Are four engine airliners harder to handle than twins?

Wed Sep 15, 2021 11:11 am

Starlionblue wrote:
seven47 wrote:
I've always found it interesting that Airbus pilots are allowed to fly so many different variations of aircraft.


By design, Airbus aircraft are very similar in cockpit and procedures. From the example above, the A330 and A340 are pretty much the same aircraft type. The A350 is a bit different but certainly close enough for a common rating.

Just as one example, the A330 and A350 cockpits look somewhat different, but the same interface philosophy is used on both.


I did think flying the A350 and the A330/340 together was a bit of a stretch. Handling was obviously a non issue, but SOP and ECAM etc was quite different for me.
 
hitower3
Posts: 248
Joined: Fri Oct 21, 2016 9:55 am

Re: Are four engine airliners harder to handle than twins?

Wed Sep 15, 2021 2:15 pm

Starlionblue wrote:
By design, Airbus aircraft are very similar in cockpit and procedures. From the example above, the A330 and A340 are pretty much the same aircraft type. The A350 is a bit different but certainly close enough for a common rating.
(...)


Dear Starlionblue,

I would think that the 340 requires a bit more attention in crosswind landings, in order to avoid a (outer) engine strike?

Kind regards,
Hendric
 
T54A
Posts: 379
Joined: Mon Oct 19, 2015 11:47 am

Re: Are four engine airliners harder to handle than twins?

Wed Sep 15, 2021 2:26 pm

hitower3 wrote:
Starlionblue wrote:
By design, Airbus aircraft are very similar in cockpit and procedures. From the example above, the A330 and A340 are pretty much the same aircraft type. The A350 is a bit different but certainly close enough for a common rating.
(...)


Dear Starlionblue,

I would think that the 340 requires a bit more attention in crosswind landings, in order to avoid a (outer) engine strike?

Kind regards,
Hendric


Not really as you apply the same technique in both types and the outer engines aren't that close to the ground. It's the inner engines that hang low.. The A346 was actually quite a docile machine for it's length and size. Because I'm a dinosaur who doesn't know how to post pics, here's a link.

https://www.airliners.net/photo/Lufthan ... G%2BMPI%3D
 
User avatar
zeke
Posts: 16455
Joined: Thu Dec 14, 2006 1:42 pm

Re: Are four engine airliners harder to handle than twins?

Thu Sep 16, 2021 6:50 am

T54A wrote:
I flew A330-200, A330-300, A340-300, A340-600 and A350-900 all as a common fleet. There is no difficulty difference between them. The A340-600 did handle like a much bigger aircraft, which it was at 368t MTOW, and had to be operated accordingly. But it wasn’t more difficult.


Echo those sentiments, I found the A340 easier to handle than the 747 particularly with non normals like two engine out approaches.
 
User avatar
Aaron747
Posts: 16572
Joined: Thu Aug 07, 2003 2:07 am

Re: Are four engine airliners harder to handle than twins?

Thu Sep 16, 2021 9:20 am

zeke wrote:
T54A wrote:
I flew A330-200, A330-300, A340-300, A340-600 and A350-900 all as a common fleet. There is no difficulty difference between them. The A340-600 did handle like a much bigger aircraft, which it was at 368t MTOW, and had to be operated accordingly. But it wasn’t more difficult.


Echo those sentiments, I found the A340 easier to handle than the 747 particularly with non normals like two engine out approaches.


What is the difference in handling character between them in those scenarios? I have always heard high time 747 drivers say she has graceful handling in almost all regimes due to the large control surfaces.
 
GalaxyFlyer
Posts: 8593
Joined: Fri Jan 01, 2016 4:44 am

Re: Are four engine airliners harder to handle than twins?

Thu Sep 16, 2021 1:05 pm

zeke wrote:
T54A wrote:
I flew A330-200, A330-300, A340-300, A340-600 and A350-900 all as a common fleet. There is no difficulty difference between them. The A340-600 did handle like a much bigger aircraft, which it was at 368t MTOW, and had to be operated accordingly. But it wasn’t more difficult.


Echo those sentiments, I found the A340 easier to handle than the 747 particularly with non normals like two engine out approaches.


Friends flying both the G7500 and older Globals say the FBW has made a big difference in handling, so I wonder if that’s true of the A340 to B747 comparison. The non-FBW Globals weren’t difficult in any case. The C-5 was a workout in near limiting crosswinds. Not physically, but the side area and wingtip clearance were the prime issues.
 
T54A
Posts: 379
Joined: Mon Oct 19, 2015 11:47 am

Re: Are four engine airliners harder to handle than twins?

Thu Sep 16, 2021 1:27 pm

IMHO understanding the FBW is the biggest trick to flying the Airbus in these situations. Once you understand what the control laws are going to do and when, then it’s relatively easy. If you are going fight the computers, you’re in for hard time
 
User avatar
Starlionblue
Posts: 20867
Joined: Fri Feb 27, 2004 9:54 pm

Re: Are four engine airliners harder to handle than twins?

Thu Sep 16, 2021 2:09 pm

T54A wrote:
IMHO understanding the FBW is the biggest trick to flying the Airbus in these situations. Once you understand what the control laws are going to do and when, then it’s relatively easy. If you are going fight the computers, you’re in for hard time


Well put! "Know your aircraft," is key in all aircraft, with "mode awareness" being a big part of flying Airbus. One corollary is that if the automation is not doing what you intend, you should take action immediately. This is stated very clearly at the start of the FCTM. Never let the airplane fly you.

Not understanding the automation has gotten Airbus crews in trouble, in some cases with fatal results. I cannot think of one such case where a proper understanding of the automation would not have kept the crew out of trouble.
 
User avatar
Aaron747
Posts: 16572
Joined: Thu Aug 07, 2003 2:07 am

Re: Are four engine airliners harder to handle than twins?

Fri Sep 17, 2021 3:19 am

Starlionblue wrote:
T54A wrote:
IMHO understanding the FBW is the biggest trick to flying the Airbus in these situations. Once you understand what the control laws are going to do and when, then it’s relatively easy. If you are going fight the computers, you’re in for hard time


Well put! "Know your aircraft," is key in all aircraft, with "mode awareness" being a big part of flying Airbus. One corollary is that if the automation is not doing what you intend, you should take action immediately. This is stated very clearly at the start of the FCTM. Never let the airplane fly you.

Not understanding the automation has gotten Airbus crews in trouble, in some cases with fatal results. I cannot think of one such case where a proper understanding of the automation would not have kept the crew out of trouble.


Very logical. It goes without saying mode awareness is a relevant topic in recent year B777 and B737 incidents as well.
 
xwb777
Posts: 1266
Joined: Wed Jan 17, 2018 4:13 pm

Re: Are four engine airliners harder to handle than twins?

Tue Sep 28, 2021 10:43 pm

I once heard from an ex-A330 Captain that the A380 is much easier to control and smoother to operate than the A330/A340.
 
bigb
Posts: 1513
Joined: Fri Nov 07, 2003 4:30 pm

Re: Are four engine airliners harder to handle than twins?

Wed Sep 29, 2021 3:03 am

xwb777 wrote:
I once heard from an ex-A330 Captain that the A380 is much easier to control and smoother to operate than the A330/A340.


That’s due to the large control surfaces of the A380 and newer FBW logic.
 
bigb
Posts: 1513
Joined: Fri Nov 07, 2003 4:30 pm

Re: Are four engine airliners harder to handle than twins?

Wed Sep 29, 2021 3:04 am

The 747 only becomes a handful with a double engine failure on one side. Otherwise, she is a great bird to fly. However I’ve heard the 777 is also another good handling machine as well.
 
seven47
Posts: 35
Joined: Sun Feb 02, 2014 2:17 am

Re: Are four engine airliners harder to handle than twins?

Thu Sep 30, 2021 3:32 am

bigb wrote:
The 747 only becomes a handful with a double engine failure on one side. Otherwise, she is a great bird to fly. However I’ve heard the 777 is also another good handling machine as well.


Agreed! Thankfully I've only done the double engine failure in the sim, but it was definitely always a handful.

I did have an actual engine fire shortly after takeoff in a 747-200 (on a post-maintenance test flight, of course) and, in my opinion, it was easier to handle in real life than it was in the sim!
 
SteelChair
Posts: 1745
Joined: Fri Aug 25, 2017 11:37 am

Re: Are four engine airliners harder to handle than twins?

Sat Oct 02, 2021 12:45 am

Sadly, no comments about the L1011. I've heard pilots rave about her. Big tail and DLC on landing.

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: a2b7, DiamondFlyer and 17 guests

Popular Searches On Airliners.net

Top Photos of Last:   24 Hours  •  48 Hours  •  7 Days  •  30 Days  •  180 Days  •  365 Days  •  All Time

Military Aircraft Every type from fighters to helicopters from air forces around the globe

Classic Airliners Props and jets from the good old days

Flight Decks Views from inside the cockpit

Aircraft Cabins Passenger cabin shots showing seat arrangements as well as cargo aircraft interior

Cargo Aircraft Pictures of great freighter aircraft

Government Aircraft Aircraft flying government officials

Helicopters Our large helicopter section. Both military and civil versions

Blimps / Airships Everything from the Goodyear blimp to the Zeppelin

Night Photos Beautiful shots taken while the sun is below the horizon

Accidents Accident, incident and crash related photos

Air to Air Photos taken by airborne photographers of airborne aircraft

Special Paint Schemes Aircraft painted in beautiful and original liveries

Airport Overviews Airport overviews from the air or ground

Tails and Winglets Tail and Winglet closeups with beautiful airline logos