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World Eater
05-30-2002, 09:51 AM
I was thinking the other day, about being on a plane and an having a situation come up, which was similar to the movie airplane. I am an audio engineer, and am pretty proficient at working knobs and gizmos, which is not even in the same ball park as flying a commercial airplane, but it couldn’t hurt. Now assuming I could recognize the radio and be able to contact someone below, would I have a remote chance of landing the plane? Not a four point landing mind you, just getting on the ground with minimal loss of life. I think the plane would be doomed, but I’m curious if it would be possible, for a person to be ‘talked down’ and land. Lastly which would be the slightly (relative of course) easier to land, a 767? or a 747?, etc.

smiling bandit
05-30-2002, 09:55 AM
You know, I think you might. Understand that things would have to be just right, and hopefull the autopilot is still on, but as long as you were going for a "just survive" approach" it could work. Still, I've landed enough planes in sims to guess that it ain't easy, though.

Xerxes
05-30-2002, 10:09 AM
I watched a segment of a UK macho-speed-big-machine type show a couple of weeks ago in which a 747 landed completely automatically. The only thing the pilot did was throttle the engines (I think he may have instigated the reverse-thrusters, but I'm not sure).

I suspect not all airports are equipped with the necessary kit (some mention of a special transmitter at the end of the target runway) but if you could be talked into turning on and setting up whatever gizmo this thing was, you could definitely have landed it. In fact, you could have done it - literally - with your eyes closed.

(As a relatively seasoned flier, it was a good landing, too).

Eve
05-30-2002, 10:11 AM
If Karen Black, Doris Day, Julie Hagerty and Penny Marhsall can do it, I don't see why you can't.

Shagnasty
05-30-2002, 10:11 AM
You wouldn't stand a chance in hell to land a 747 or 767 manually. It would be nearly impossible even for a licensed pilot of small planes to do it. The only way for it to be at all possible is if you had hours of training in the simulator before the incident. That being said, you might have one more option to get everyone down alive. Many newer airliners actually have autoland capability that allows the autopilot to do its thing all the way down to the runway using the ILS approach at most major airports. If you could set the autopilot for level flight long enough to get on the radio and get someone to help you set the autopilot for autoland at a major airport then you might just make it. Remember to set those reverse thrusters to maximum auto-brake at touchdown so that you won't slam into the terminal at 150 mph after all that work.

You PROBABLY could land a small plane (poorly) if you had to. If you ever take flying lessons, they can usually get you to make a (bumpy) landing in a small plane like a Cessna 150 or a Diamond Katana after only a couple of tries. There have been several cases in which passengers have had to be talked down after the pilot collapsed at the controls.

World Eater
05-30-2002, 10:27 AM
Good answers. Here’s a side question, whets the most difficult airport in the world to land at? I'm sure it would be helpful if I weren’t landing at LaGuardia or Hong Kong (surrounded by water). One last thing as well. I was reading the story of the Gimli Glider, and they said the pilot threw the plane into a 'vicious sideslip' to slow it down. They said commercial planes are capable of doing some pretty neat flight maneuvers, but they usually don’t because the passengers would freak. Thanks for the help all, I've always been fascinated by planes, and just seem to have a stream of random questions popping into my head.

Shagnasty
05-30-2002, 10:38 AM
Hong Kong is generally acknowledged to be the hardest major airport in the world for commercial pilots to land. Here is one description:

http://wttw.tripod.com/hk.html

av8rmike
05-30-2002, 10:43 AM
Don't pay any attention to movies or TV. I have to agree with Shagnasty here. This discussion comes up every so often on aviation-themed bboards (real and simulated) and no matter how confident the simulator pilots act, the answer from real pilots is almost always no. The consensus is that an inexperienced pilot would either flare to early, float and run out of runway; or flare too late and crash.
Having been both a sound engineer and (simulator) airline pilot, I'm not sure how much the skills from one transfer to the other.
Regarding your side question, the "old" Hong Kong airport had one of the more difficult approaches because of the 40- or 50-degree turn that had to be made just before landing. La Paz, Bolivia and other mountainous airports are usually considered very difficult.

istara
05-30-2002, 10:49 AM
Could I land a commercial airliner?
My brother could. Then again he's a commercial airline pilot.

Seriously though - if you'd seen the abuse and rubber-burning he put my mother's car through in his teen years, plus the numerous bumps and scrapes - you start to wonder...

:eek:

rjung
05-30-2002, 10:55 AM
Originally posted by Shagnasty
Hong Kong is generally acknowledged to be the hardest major airport in the world for commercial pilots to land. Here is one description:

http://wttw.tripod.com/hk.html
I believe that's the old airport -- the new one (which opened about five years ago) is much easier to deal with.

(I sat through several takeoffs and landings at the old airport, and the landings had more banks and turns than a roller-coaster)

Whack-a-Mole
05-30-2002, 11:07 AM
Originally posted by World Eater
I was reading the story of the Gimli Glider, and they said the pilot threw the plane into a 'vicious sideslip' to slow it down. They said commercial planes are capable of doing some pretty neat flight maneuvers, but they usually don’t because the passengers would freak.

A plane is a plane is a plane. They can all do similar maneuvers mostly being restricted by overall airframe strength and weight to power ratios. I don't think a commercial jet could do an over-the-top loop (it'd stall first) but IIRC there was a test pilot who put a 727(?) through a barrel roll which I believe the engineers didn't think was possible.

Even commercial jets are surprisingly strong. I was flying with a friend who had never flown before (surprisingly given that she was 20 at the time) and she was upset to look out the window and see the plane's wings flapping. It took some reassurance to convince her that that was normal. I saw a show on TV where they were abusing airframes in order to get flight certification from the FAA for a new model airliner. One of the tests pushed the wings up and up till they broke off. The wings were bent into a nearly U shape with the wingtips pointed nearly straight up before they snapped.

All that said you can still stress an airframe too far. If a commercial jet (or many other planes for that matter) do extreme maneuvers they risk snapping something off or otherwise cracking-up the airframe in flight. Your acrobatic planes and military fighter jets are built exceedingly strong to withstand anything the pilots can throw at them in extreme maneuvers. I've heard that some military jets can perform beyond the capabilities of the pilots to achieve those maneuvers (the pilots would generally pass out first).

World Eater
05-30-2002, 11:08 AM
Originally posted by av8rmike
Having been both a sound engineer and (simulator) airline pilot, I'm not sure how much the skills from one transfer to the other.


I just figured a familiarity with zillions of knobs and buttons could be slightly advantageous. Probably not, because the buttons do radically different things, but cut me a break, I'm trying to land a 747 here! :eek:

I hope we never need to find out btw.

What is 'Sideslip'?

Whack-a-Mole
05-30-2002, 11:11 AM
Originally posted by av8rmike
This discussion comes up every so often on aviation-themed bboards (real and simulated) and no matter how confident the simulator pilots act, the answer from real pilots is almost always no. The consensus is that an inexperienced pilot would either flare to early, float and run out of runway; or flare too late and crash.

How big of a 'No' is that no? I can buy that you're not going to get a nice smooth landing out of an zero experience 'pilot' but are we talking about flat-out flaming death for everyone or will the 'pilot' be able to get the plane close enough and slow enough to the ground before screwing up that at least some people might survive the ensuing run off the end of the runway or whatever?

Whack-a-Mole
05-30-2002, 11:19 AM
I hope this isn't too much of a hijack but I have a related question.

Assume that for whatever improbable set of circumstances you (a zero experience pilot for the sake of those around here who do fly) find yourself behind the controls of a 767. Also assume that the automatic landing gizmo if it exists isn't working.

Would flight control even let you get near an airport to attempt a landing (with someone talking you through it all) or would they drop you in a lake/ocean somewhere (or perhaps a remote, out of the way landing field) far away from people and property?

Whack-a-Mole
05-30-2002, 11:36 AM
Originally posted by World Eater
What is 'Sideslip'?

If you've flown enough you've probably experienced this first hand.

In the simplest terms a sideslip is where the plane is moving in one direction while the nose is pointed in another. Imagine a plane with a forward motion of due north but the nose is pointed 10o east of north.

This is most often experienced by passengers on an airline during landings when there is a crosswind coming across the runway. The wind is trying to push the plane of the runway's centerline so the pilot compensates by pointing the nose a bit into the wind to cancel the effect. The upshot is that the plane is moving in a different direction than it's pointed.

I was a passenger once sitting near the back of the plane that was doing such a large sideslip that I could actually see the runway in front of us. Very unusual and a bit unnerving although I think a sideslip maneuver is something pilots learn in Flight School 101.

ski
05-30-2002, 11:38 AM
Big airport. Main reasons:

- wider/longer runways
- better navigational equipment (like the ILS)
- most importantly, fire and rescue capabilities that smaller airports might not have

Definitely not in the water. Way too dangerous, even for an experienced pilot.

Whack-a-Mole
05-30-2002, 12:00 PM
Originally posted by ski
Big airport. Main reasons:

- wider/longer runways
- better navigational equipment (like the ILS)
- most importantly, fire and rescue capabilities that smaller airports might not have

Definitely not in the water. Way too dangerous, even for an experienced pilot.

I understand all the reasons for landing at a big airport. I was just wondering if they'd figure it'd be too risky to let an inexperienced pilot to get a large airliner over populated areas and airports such that they'd figure it's better to toss the several hundred souls on-board the plane rather than risk further death and injury to people on the ground.

Another note on the sideslip:
In the Gimli Glider story the co-pilot mentioned that he was 'looking down' at the pilot. What I described didn't account for this. A sideslip will induce a roll in the plane so a wingtip will tend to drop. If you yaw to the right the left wing will want to dip. This can be compensated for to some extent but remember the Gimli Glider instituted a 'viscious' sideslip. Additionally, the pilot had minimal hydraulic pressure to control the flight surfaces. Finally, IIRC, doing the sideslip caused the RAT providing hydraulic pressure to slow down as it moved out of the forward airstream. This probably all added-up to the plane's wind dipping precipitously. From the story it seemed that for a moment the pilot wondered if he could pull the plane out of its sideslip. Must've been quite scary for the passengers.

As to why the Gimli Glider pilot attempted this maneuver remember that he felt he had too much forward airspeed and needed to slow the plane down. The minimal hydraulic pressure didn't allow for the flaps to be deployed. Given that the plane was now a glider there was to be no flying in circles. The best way to slow the plane was to effectively turn it sideways (to some extent) to the forward motion of the plane while maintaining its line-up with the runway.

I should also note that I am NOT a pilot and get all this experience from flight sims which is a far cry from the real thing. You may want to wait for a real pilot to chime in before accepting my description.

kanicbird
05-30-2002, 12:05 PM
Definitely not in the water. Way too dangerous, even for an experienced pilot.

If the goal was to survive. The water seems ideal. Bigest runway you will find on earth and something softer then asphalt to land on. If the plane has autoland then a runway is nice but if not I think water is the way to go. - but I don't know.

kunilou
05-30-2002, 12:44 PM
Originally posted by Whack-a-Mole
Would flight control even let you get near an airport to attempt a landing (with someone talking you through it all) or would they drop you in a lake/ocean somewhere (or perhaps a remote, out of the way landing field) far away from people and property?

Remember the United Airlines jumbo jet that had an engine fly apart and severed the hydraulic lines several years back? The pilots had almost no control over the plane, but they and the controllers still thought it safer to keep the plane in the air for more than 30 minutes to get it to a relatively unbusy airport (Sioux City, Iowa) that happened to have a long runway and plenty of emergency equipment.

My choice would be a large airport, either civil or military.

World Eater
05-30-2002, 01:01 PM
Thanks for the info guys, very interesting topics. I wonder if after 9/11 any protocols were changed in regards to flying crippled aircraft over metropolitan areas. Anyone feel free to hijack this thread, with any general aviation questions. If we could keep them fairly understandable for the laymen it would be greatly appreciated. Whack-a-Mole you seem very knowledgeable, for not being a pilot, kudos!

av8rmike
05-30-2002, 01:02 PM
Originally posted by Whack-a-Mole
I should also note that I am NOT a pilot and get all this experience from flight sims which is a far cry from the real thing. You may want to wait for a real pilot to chime in before accepting my description.

I'm not going to touch the "what would happen if a non-pilot was suddenly in control" question. WAY too hypothetical. W-A-M, your description of a slip is close but not quite.
"a sideslip is where the plane is moving in one direction while the nose is pointed in another."
Flying in anything other than an exact head- or tail-wind causes this condition. A slip is a cross-control configuration that the pilot deliberately induces. Normally, the rudder controls the direction the aircraft points and goes the same direction as the turn (left turn, left rudder, etc.) In a slip, the pilot lowers a wing, then puts in a bootfull of opposite rudder. This configuration has the effect of banking the plane without turning, causing the nose to point away from the track of the plane, but most importantly, increases the induced drag and sink rate without increasing airspeed. While you are correct that in a crosswind landing, the pilot must bank into the wind to compensate, what the pilot in the Gimli Glider story was doing was a deliberate cross-control to lose altitude without picking up airspeed.
So what you said is basically true, but a slip does not induce a roll, it's the roll countered by the rudder that causes a slip.

CurtC
05-30-2002, 01:29 PM
av8rmike is correct about slips, but I'd like to add a description of when you would commonly experience a slip with a crosswind in a commercial plane.

As the plane approaches the runway in a crosswind, it would normally be flying with its nose pointed into the wind, so that its nose is pointed directly into the airstream. Another way to say this is that a plane flying normally will look like it's pointed slightly sideways to an observer on the ground with a crosswind, but the plane is flying directly into the airstream.

As the plane gets very close to the runway, they need the wheels to point down the runway, not at an angle to it. Imagine a crosswind coming from your left, so the plane's nose looks like it's angled to the left of the runway center line. The pilot will then kick right rudder, to point the nose down the runway, while at the same time banking the wings to the left, so that the crosswind doesn't push it sideways. Now the plane will be going straight down the runway, with its left wing dipped down, so the left wheel will hit first.

a_gherkin
05-30-2002, 01:51 PM
i think given the powerful computers on board them these days, the practically land themselves

Johnny L.A.
05-30-2002, 02:26 PM
I have to think about getting out of here for my lunch break and I've only scanned the posts.

Flying magazine asked this question about a year or two ago. They put one of their pilots into a Jumbo simulator. Even though this guy had stacks of hours, he still crashed. The article concluded that even an experienced GA pilot would have a hard time landing a large transport jet.

Of course, I could do it if I had to.* ;)

*I have an enormous ego. :D

flyboy
05-30-2002, 02:28 PM
This question has been asked before on the boards, and I think the general consensus was no.

Having landed small planes and having been in the cockpit during landings in larger planes, I've been amazed at the difference in the sight picture and when pilots start the flare in different planes. Assuming a non-flyer could even get through the approach (doubtful, but possible, I think) to the airport, I'm convinced he'd either not flare at all and prang it in or flare too early. Either way, you're putting the person in a real bad situation where he'll probably panic. Even if he keeps calm, he won't have the necessary experience and judgement to safely control the plane once it hits the runway and comes airborne again, or stalls in a premature flare. Not only won't you get a nice smooth landing, but my guess is you'll wind up with a Sioux-City-type cartwheel, and then it's just luck as to whether anyone walks away or not.

If you add in a nice crosswind, poor visibility, or some type of mech/hydraulic/electrical failure, I doubt he'd ever even get it on the runway.

Whack-a-Mole
05-30-2002, 02:46 PM
Originally posted by Johnny L.A.
Flying magazine asked this question about a year or two ago. They put one of their pilots into a Jumbo simulator. Even though this guy had stacks of hours, he still crashed. The article concluded that even an experienced GA pilot would have a hard time landing a large transport jet.

Just out of curiosity did they just plop a GA pilot in the simulator and let him have at it or did they have someone on the ground (so to speak) talk him through various procedures to get the plane landed?

I keep hearing over and over that the newbie pilot will flare too early or too late. While I agree with the general consensus that a crash is more likely than not is there anything ground control can do to help the poor pilot out? Assuming the pilot doesn't have to contend with any other weirdness such as crosswinds and the like can't ground control get the guy on the proper glide slope (flaps set at X, throttles Y, pitch Z and so on) and then tell him when to flare the plane at the appropriate time? Can that even be judged sufficiently from the control tower? The plane might go skipping down the runway but the longer they can keep the plane slowing down and mostly on the ground before cartwheeling or swerving off the runway the better chance those inside will have of surviving (I would think).

CookingWithGas
05-30-2002, 02:59 PM
Originally posted by k2dave
If the goal was to survive. The water seems ideal. Bigest runway you will find on earth and something softer then asphalt to land on. If the plane has autoland then a runway is nice but if not I think water is the way to go. - but I don't know.

I think at 225 mph water at is not as soft as all that. Have you ever seen a racing boat lose control and disintegrate? Plus even if you don't break up you probably drown.

panamajack
05-30-2002, 03:09 PM
Would the response to this question from pilots be summed up as, "Surely you can't be serious," then? (And as for the GA pilot attempting a jumbo jet landing, they should know it's an entirely different kind of flying altogether.)

I've seen an arcade game that apparently is nothing more than a simulation of landing a large passenger airplane (You take off, the flight lasts 3 seconds, and then you have to land). You don't have much you need to control (a yoke, maybe rudders but I'm not sure on that, and one button to press when it lights up). I suppose it gives some idea for the feel of the plane, but at the same time there's little circles on the screen to guide you in.

Kilt-wearin' man
05-30-2002, 03:20 PM
Originally posted by panamajack
Would the response to this question from pilots be summed up as, "Surely you can't be serious," then?

[Leslie Neilsen] Of course they're serious. And don't call them Shirley. [/Leslie Neilsen]

Cisco
05-30-2002, 03:33 PM
Originally posted by panamajack
Would the response to this question from pilots be summed up as, "Surely you can't be serious," then?


Yes. And don't call me Shirley.


(And as for the GA pilot attempting a jumbo jet landing, they should know it's an entirely different kind of flying altogether.)


They should know it's an entirely different kind of flying!

World Eater
05-30-2002, 03:40 PM
What is flaring?

av8rmike
05-30-2002, 04:04 PM
Originally posted by World Eater
What is flaring?

Generally speaking, it's the last phase of the landing before the touchdown and rollout. The technique is slightly different for smaller, prop-driven GA aircraft than for larger, jet- and turboprop-driven aircraft, but it's raising the nose of the aircraft so that it settles on the main gear first. As I said above, in either case of aircraft, flaring too soon or too quickly raises the aircraft out of ground effect and you start climbing again. Flaring to late or too slowly results in a hard landing at best. As you can probably imagine, proper flare technique is key to successful landings; therefore, I don't think it would be possible to have a "spotter" telling our hapless passenger-turned-pilot when to flare. He wouldn't know how to do it properly.

Johnny L.A.
05-30-2002, 04:06 PM
Just out of curiosity did they just plop a GA pilot in the simulator and let him have at it or did they have someone on the ground (so to speak) talk him through various procedures to get the plane landed?
IIRC, there was an instructor in the right seat... But it's been a while since I read the article.
What is flaring?
Flaring is raising the nose prior to landing to reduce your airspeed and rate of descent. When you flare, you're trading some of your energy (speed) for different energy (lift). If you keep flaring, you will eventually not have enough speed to develop enough lift to stay airborne. The idea is for this to happen as your mains touch the runway. By holding the nose gear up during the roll-out, you are braking the aircraft aerodynamically. (This works better if you retract your flaps.)

Shagnasty
05-30-2002, 04:09 PM
Originally posted by World Eater
What is flaring?

Oh Lord! We are screwed harder than we thought. I told you that you were completely screwed before you admitted that you don't even know what flaring is. I don't have anything left to give.



Flaring is the transition that a pilot makes from descent down to the runway down to a nice smooth landing. You can't just down fly onto the runway. Well , you can but will just bounce back up again and then you have got problems because you need to get everything set up for a good landing again very quickly or decide to go around if you are in danger of floating to the end of the runway.

Here is basically how you flare. Smoothly descend down towards the runway on your approach. After you are safely past the runway threshold, cut the power. You are probably about 50 feet high at this point. Keep descending nice and smooth until your rear landing gear is only a foot or two above the runway. Now hold it there by pulling back on the stick or yoke, The plane will slow so you will need to pull back even more. That is fine. When you have slowed enough after just a few seconds, the plane will not want to fly anymore and should gently touch down on its rear landing gear. Continue pulling the stick back to hold the front landing gear off of the runway as long as you can. After a couple of more seconds, it too will touch down and the plane is now firmly planted on the ground. That is how to flare.

Cervaise
05-30-2002, 04:22 PM
Originally posted by Johnny L.A.

Of course, I could do it if I had to.* ;)

*I have an enormous ego. :D Does that affect the aircraft's center of gravity?

World Eater
05-30-2002, 04:36 PM
Ok I got flaring down, now if only I can figure out how to turn on those damn thrust reversers. :p

Just out of curiosity has there ever been a situation anywhere, anytime that the OP describes?

Dragline
05-30-2002, 04:39 PM
I can land everything but the 747 in MS Flight Sim - Since I can't figure out the navigation info, I can never find the airport in time. Without an Interstate highway leading straight to the runway, I'm dead.

Johnny L.A.
05-30-2002, 04:43 PM
Does that affect the aircraft's center of gravity?
Yeah, everything revolves around me! :p

Hey, if you can't poke fun at yourself, who CAN you poke fun at?

Shagnasty
05-30-2002, 05:17 PM
Originally posted by World Eater
Ok I got flaring down, now if only I can figure out how to turn on those damn thrust reversers. :p

Just out of curiosity has there ever been a situation anywhere, anytime that the OP describes?

No there hasn't because the scenario is very unlikely and it is pretty much impossible to land a 767, a 747, or any large transport jet without very intensive training on that particular plane and hundreds if not thousands of hours of practice. CANNOT BE DONE!

There have been several successful landing in smaller planes but the landing passenger is usually a frequent buddy on flights in that plane. That is very different because the plane is much smaller and the passenger has already sat with the controls between their legs for many hours (most small planes have dual controls for the pilot and passenger/co-pilot). The passenger has usually had a chance to fly the plane before during straight and level flight because the pilot might get tired and let them. There is nothing strange or illegal about that.

I can tell you are just begging to try. Flight Simulator 2002 is actually pretty good at demonstrating this concept. You have to crank up the realism to "full" in all areas to be fair but it should show you how difficult it is and is a pretty good teaching tool for what you want to learn. The program X-Plane is almost perfectly realistic and will let you model your exact scenario the best way any computer can (it is used to virtually test planes by the Department of Defense) but it is not as user-friendly.

World Eater
05-30-2002, 05:25 PM
I'm just imagining pulling out of my side slip just in time to flare. ;)

Shagnasty
05-30-2002, 05:29 PM
Originally posted by World Eater
I'm just imagining pulling out of my side slip just in time to flare. ;)

And I am sure that you would look very cute doing it but you still couldn't land that 747.

Shagnasty
05-30-2002, 05:48 PM
World Eater,

I am a pilot as are many other dopers and I love flying more than anything in the world. I can fly small planes like the king's business and I can land 747's, 767's, and 737's 99% of the time on flight simulators regardless of the ridiculous conditions that I set up. I still don't think that I could land a real transport jet during the situation that you describe. It is just not a skill that is possible to pick up by reading about it or even by using common sense or PC simulators. You just have to know that particular skill.

If you are that interested in aviation, buy a copy of "Stick and Rudder" for theory. All major bookstores carry it. I keep it beside my bed at all times and re-read it about 4 times a year. It will teach you all you ever wanted to know about flare and more. Buy MS Flight Simulator 2002. It is a very good program. ALthough it won't teach you to fly actual planes, the aviation knowledge that you aquire will be invaluable if you follow the lessons and procedures and treat it as a tutorial and not a game. A single, first lesson will cost a little less than $100. There are no obligations. At the end of that lesson, you should know how to land a small airplane quite poorly but with no major carnage on the ground and the aircraft still intact.

tracer
05-30-2002, 05:54 PM
Xerxes wrote:

I watched a segment of a UK macho-speed-big-machine type show a couple of weeks ago in which a 747 landed completely automatically. The only thing the pilot did was throttle the engines (I think he may have instigated the reverse-thrusters, but I'm not sure).
Did anyone here see the movie Turbulence?

A flight attendant, all alone in a 747 cockpit, with no flight training of her own, had to be talked down to a landing at Los Angeles International airport.

How did she do it?

She basically pushed the "fly me to LAX" button, the "line me up with runway 25 Left" button, and the "land me" button, in that order. :rolleyes:

brad_d
05-30-2002, 05:59 PM
My parents' next-door neighbor is a simulator technician for American Airlines at their main headquarters in Dallas/Fort Worth. I'm told this is no longer allowed (after 9/11), but in the past the guys who ran the things were allowed (possibly unofficially) to bring in guests on the few occasions during the year when they weren't in use. 9:00 p.m. on December 24, for example. Whenever he called to extend the offer, we jumped at the chance.

Aside from being loads of fun, it was quite educational to fly 767 or MD-80 simulators. These things are stunningly realistic.

The usual routine he'd set up for folks like me (basically no flying experience) was to set us up on an approach with the automatic throttle control set to maintain the desired landing speed. We'd set the flaps, and control the plane on our own using the yoke and rudder pedals. The ILS was generally "on", giving us a very easy target to shoot for.

The ILS did not fly the plane for you. It provided a glideslope target that you aimed to stay on.

Given all of that help, it really wasn't that hard.

My father, who is not a licensed pilot but has a good bit of small-plane time, asked if he could try setting up a landing and making it on his own. As in, no automatic throttle control, and making the turns to line up with the runway himself. My neighbor said "Sure."

He did it. Without that much trouble.

Read into that what you will.

World Eater
05-30-2002, 06:08 PM
Much appreciated on the info Shagnasty, but at 28 its probably too late for a career change. I will definitely pick up the book you mention though, because aviation is very interesting to me. The fact that we can get multi-ton hunks of metal with thousands of parts, and put them tens of thousands of feet into the air is pretty mind-boggling. I also am in no way belittling a pilot’s job by implying its easy, as they have only my utmost respect.

Shagnasty
05-30-2002, 06:50 PM
Originally posted by World Eater
Much appreciated on the info Shagnasty, but at 28 its probably too late for a career change. I will definitely pick up the book you mention though, because aviation is very interesting to me. The fact that we can get multi-ton hunks of metal with thousands of parts, and put them tens of thousands of feet into the air is pretty mind-boggling. I also am in no way belittling a pilot’s job by implying its easy, as they have only my utmost respect.

You don't have to do a career change. Most anyone can become a private pilot if they desire. That license gives you a surprising amount of authority compared to most licenses. Want to land at JFK or LaGuardia, no problem, Air Traffic Control will find a slot for you just as they will a 747 arriving from Hong Kong. You would be just as legit as they are.

A private pilot's license will cost roughly $6000 but flight schools do not mind at all if you just take 1 or 2 lessons at less than $100 a piece. You do not need to sign up for any kind of full program. Also, flight time is good forever so if you take a lesson now and retain those skills 10 years from now, they still count as if they were yesterday.

Do buy "Stick and Rudder"! It is not only the best aviation theory book ever written, it is one of the best and clearest non-fiction book written in any field. It was authored in the 1940's and has yet to be challenged by any rival if that is any comparison.

tracer
05-30-2002, 07:00 PM
Shagnasty wrote:

Most anyone can become a private pilot if they desire. That license gives you a surprising amount of authority compared to most licenses. Want to land at JFK or LaGuardia, no problem, Air Traffic Control will find a slot for you just as they will a 747 arriving from Hong Kong. You would be just as legit as they are.
Yeah, but the landing fees will probably set you back some.

Johnny L.A.
05-30-2002, 07:01 PM
Join usssssss.....!

Shagnasty
05-30-2002, 07:18 PM
Originally posted by tracer
Shagnasty wrote:


Yeah, but the landing fees will probably set you back some.

It was just an example. Aviation is not a cheap hobby but the point still stands. You do have a lot of authority and many ground systems either under your control or at your disposal. Most airports do not have landing fees. I would never advocate flying a small plane into JFK but you most certainaly could if you wanted and you would be treated just as any other. Outer airports that are more tailored to general aviation are probably a better idea though.

Broomstick
05-30-2002, 09:05 PM
Originally posted by World Eater
I was thinking the other day, about being on a plane and an having a situation come up, which was similar to the movie airplane. I am an audio engineer, and am pretty proficient at working knobs and gizmos, which is not even in the same ball park as flying a commercial airplane, but it couldn’t hurt.Ya know, I'd feel a lot better about this sceanario if you were "pretty proficient" with a yoke and rudders, not knobs and gizmos.

Now assuming I could recognize the radio and be able to contact someone below,Just for free - put on one of the headsets lying around the suddenly uninhabited cockpit. Now, look for a little button on the yoke - that's the steering wheel in front of you. Push it and yell "MAYDAY!". Release the button. Assuming you haven't activated some control system like an autopilot someone will be along shortly to ask what the problem is. If there are multiple buttons on the funky steering wheel and the first one you try does not achieve the desired results try another.

would I have a remote chance of landing the plane?No.

OK, if it's a - what, category III? - plane equipped to land itself AND you were headed to an airport with the capability to direct such a plane AND it was already programmed to land AND nothing else went wrong - the plane could potentially land itself. But you sir, could not.

I'm a pilot and I don't believe I could land a commercial airliner successfully, although in such a situation I would be highly motivated to give it a try. Why not? At that point, what have you got to lose?

Not a four point landing mind you,wince! cringe!

but I’m curious if it would be possible, for a person to be ‘talked down’ and land. Not that kind of airplane, no.

Lastly which would be the slightly (relative of course) easier to land, a 767? or a 747?, etc. Gee, I dunno - is it more painful to fall out of a 20 story window than a 19 story window?

Broomstick
05-30-2002, 09:26 PM
Originally posted by Whack-a-Mole
I keep hearing over and over that the newbie pilot will flare too early or too late. While I agree with the general consensus that a crash is more likely than not is there anything ground control can do to help the poor pilot out?When I was walking out to the Cessna 150 for my first solo (one of the easier airplanes to fly, by the way) my instructor, bless his heart, said "Now, if you have any problems I'll be right here on the radio to help you out"

I looked at him :confused: "Uh... let's see, you'll be on the ground and I'll be all by myself[i] five hundred or a thousand feet up there... You're going to help me [i]how?..."

"Well, OK" he said "There isn't really much I can do... but you weren't supposed to figure that out this soon."

(Actually, the flight went off without a hitch - they're sort of careful not to let you out on your own until you're ready to handle it)


Assuming the pilot doesn't have to contend with any other weirdness such as crosswinds

Gosh, I can't remember the last time I didn't have a crosswind... think it must have been back in August of '00....

and the like can't ground control get the guy on the proper glide slope (flaps set at X, throttles Y, pitch Z and so on) and then tell him when to flare the plane at the appropriate time? Wow. You know, flight instructors sitting next to students in simple trainer planes sometimes have trouble with this - you're talking about a complete novice doing it solo in one of the most complex machines ever designed and built?

Yes, people who have never flown before have been "talked down" in simple piston-planes. But it doesn't always work. And the plane is usually damaged by the time everything comes to a halt, even if the people inside are OK. It's not just going through the motions - the picture is a lot different from the front seat, and most folks do not react well to the "if I don't get this right I'm gonna DIE!" sort of pressure this sceanario implies.

Never heard of anyone being talked down in a jet.

Can that even be judged sufficiently from the control tower? Well, maybe if the controller had flown such a plane before... but most of them aren't pilots of any sort. The way the system works, the controllers tell the pilots when they can take off or land, and if they're about to hit someone, but they system assumes it's the pilots who fly the planes.

The plane might go skipping down the runway but the longer they can keep the plane slowing down and mostly on the ground before cartwheeling or swerving off the runway the better chance those inside will have of surviving (I would think). Wow. I am imagining 300,000 lbs of jumbo jet skipping down a runway at 120-150 mph. The mind boggles. You know, even if the plane could handle it (which I don't believe for a minute) I don't think the runway pavement would survive.

Hey, the fantasy is fun - but until it actually happens I just can't believe a non-pilot could land one of those things. Hell, I don't think most pilots could do that - the majority of pilots do not fly jumbo jets, we're mostly piston-powered.

Interesting factoid - it's not safe for pilots who exclusively fly things like 747s for years or decades to fly a single-engine plane. They're too out of practice with the small stuff - it's really that different. Sure, it may only take them a couple hours to get back into practice, but meanwhile they will be doing some strange flying.

(Of course, some airline pilots DO continue to fly little airplanes - there are a number of such guys at my local airport - but that's like saying I still ride my bicycle even though I have my driver's license)

Johnny L.A.
05-30-2002, 09:53 PM
If I were ever in a situation where I'd have to try to land a large jet, I'd be praying I had enough fuel to reach Edwards AFB (in the summer or fall). A huge dry lake bed might give me a fighting chance to not kill to many people. As Broomstick says, at that point, what have you got to lose? But I'd want a lot of acreage.
Interesting factoid - it's not safe for pilots who exclusively fly things like 747s for years or decades to fly a single-engine plane. They're too out of practice with the small stuff - it's really that different.
The April issue of AOPAPilot has an article about Navy fighter jocks who try to fly "little airplanes" at NAS Pax River. One instructor said that the test-pilots-to-be [flail arms and legs for a mental image] the first time in some of the aircraft. When asked about his first experience in one of the "little airplanes", one Naval Aviator said, "It was like this: [flailing arms and legs]"

Buck The Diver
05-30-2002, 10:37 PM
Well, if you're like me, you never leave home without your copy of A Man's Life: The Complete Instructions in your pack. This book actually has a chapter on how to land a 747.

Course, ya gotta fly with one hand and turn pages with the other. Guess you could have that sexy stewardess (excuse me, flight attendant) read it to you.

Anyways, check it out: A Man's Life: The Complete Instructions (http://www.modernman.com/products/books/28-1.html)

Ring
05-30-2002, 11:25 PM
Wait a minute. If you can't learn how to fly a 747 on a simulator, and you can't learn it by flying smaller planes then how do you learn to do it? Surely they don't take 747's up for training flights or do they?

I can fly radio control model planes, could I do it?

David Simmons
05-30-2002, 11:35 PM
I'm assuming you mean could you land the plane. My answer is no, no, no. But as someone said, it you are ever in that situation and no one else steps up, why not try?

The big difficulty is that will big airplanes and jet engines, the response time is so long that you have to anticipate any problem before it happens. That is to say, you simply can't allow a problem, such as an undershoot or overshoot, too high or low airspeed or the like to develop in the first place. And without experience you wouldn't have the slightest idea what you were looking for and so wouldn't even know you had a problem.

I flew Martin B-26's, an airplane that was relatively unforgiving of mistakes. I'm pretty sure that even when I was young and had good reactions and some experience to boot it would have been questionable as to whether I could get a modern jet airliner safely on the ground.

flyboy
05-30-2002, 11:43 PM
Originally posted by Ring
Wait a minute. If you can't learn how to fly a 747 on a simulator, and you can't learn it by flying smaller planes then how do you learn to do it? Surely they don't take 747's up for training flights or do they?

I can fly radio control model planes, could I do it?
I'm not an airline pilot, but I'm assuming they get you in a class which teaches you all you ever wanted to know and more about the plane. Then you get some sim time in it, along with copilot time. I don't think the airlines have training flights... that's why you buy simulators. All this exposure is what you need to get a feel for the aircraft.

brad_d
05-30-2002, 11:58 PM
My neighbor the sim-tech told me that the really top-of-the-line simulators such as those at American are so realistic that hours in those are considered by the FAA to be equivalent to hours spent in the real thing.

Was he right, or pulling info out of his butt?

flyboy
05-31-2002, 12:29 AM
Well, reading FAR 61.157 (Flight Proficiency, Airline Transport pilots), para (g) addresses sim time. "If a flight simulator... is used for accomplishing all of the training and the required practical test for an airplane transport pilot certificate... the applicant, flight simulator, etc, are subject to the following requirements..."

So, from my understanding, you can equate sim hours to "real" hours if you're applying them toward getting your ATP cert. I don't think you can simply log sim time as actual time, though. Also, I don't have my 2002 FAR/AIM edition handy, so this info came from an old 2000 version, and it may be outdated.

Sam Stone
05-31-2002, 01:36 AM
Okay, I'm a pilot and I'll offer a marginally dissenting opinion. Things like visibility and whether there is a crosswind are going to be a big factor in our success rate here.

Given a beautiful, calm day, I'd say that the plane's chance of survival is directly proportional to who's on the the other end of the radio. If they can get ahold of a type-rated pilot who has a clear view of the approach, then I'd say there's a decent chance of talking the plane down. He knows all the ref speeds - if someone in the co-pilot's chair can rattle them off when asked, and the guy can see the plane coming in, he can probably guide the person in to a reasonable facsimile of a flare and landing.

Just a guess. I haven't tried it. Someone above mentioned that he'd never heard of someone trying to land a jet after the crew was disabled. But I haven't heard of any that tried and failed, either. That means we have no empirical data to work with.

But imagine being in the simulator while an instructor is saying, "Pull back...more....stop. Okay, hold 185. Power back slowly.....

THAT guy could probably land a jet first time.

Ranchoth
05-31-2002, 02:29 AM
Originally posted by flyboy88

I'm not an airline pilot, but I'm assuming they get you in a class which teaches you all you ever wanted to know and more about the plane. Then you get some sim time in it, along with copilot time. I don't think the airlines have training flights... that's why you buy simulators. All this exposure is what you need to get a feel for the aircraft.

As a matter of fact, the previously mentioned X-Plane simulator program was just approved by the FAA for "official" simulator training (Towards an instrument rating, Commercial Certificate, or an Airline Transport Certificate)--When used in a full motion simulator only, but it's the same software that would be used on a home computer. I'd post a link, but it's a commercial site.

Just so ya' know.



Ranchoth

av8rmike
05-31-2002, 10:03 AM
Originally posted by Ring
Wait a minute. If you can't learn how to fly a 747 on a simulator, and you can't learn it by flying smaller planes then how do you learn to do it? Surely they don't take 747's up for training flights or do they?


Before this thread gets carted off to IMHO....
I don't know who said you can't learn from a simulator, it's part of the process. As others have answered, simulator time does count toward an ATP license or type rating. However, Microsoft Flight Sim on a desktop != FAA-rated simulator. There's a world of difference between a $50 game on a $1500 computer versus a multi-million dollar, six-axis full-motion simulator. About the only thing the computer programs are good for is building familiarity with instruments and basic procedures.

Whack-a-Mole
05-31-2002, 10:40 AM
Originally posted by brad_d
My neighbor the sim-tech told me that the really top-of-the-line simulators such as those at American are so realistic that hours in those are considered by the FAA to be equivalent to hours spent in the real thing.

Was he right, or pulling info out of his butt?

I don't know for sure but I have heard that sim time is considered sufficient for at least some aspects of getting and/or maintaining a pilot's license.

That said I don't care how good a sim is because they all fail in one very important aspect...the prospect of flaming death if you screw up.

It is one thing to be sitting in a sim, even a 'perfect' one, knowing that if you get it wrong you can reset and try again. It is quite another thing to see how a person responds when the knowledge that they have zero margin for error and only one chance becuase the ground will be completely unforgiving.

Shagnasty
05-31-2002, 11:00 AM
Originally posted by Whack-a-Mole


I don't know for sure but I have heard that sim time is considered sufficient for at least some aspects of getting and/or maintaining a pilot's license.

That said I don't care how good a sim is because they all fail in one very important aspect...the prospect of flaming death if you screw up.

It is one thing to be sitting in a sim, even a 'perfect' one, knowing that if you get it wrong you can reset and try again. It is quite another thing to see how a person responds when the knowledge that they have zero margin for error and only one chance becuase the ground will be completely unforgiving.

That is why training in a really good simulator is BETTER than training in a real plane in many ways. I am not saying the advantage is that it prevents you from crashing for real although that is ceratinly important.

To become a good pilot, you need to constantly push your skills and the capabilities of the aircraft as far as you can without stepping over the line that gets you into real trouble. You can train for much more difficult situations in a simulator than you could in the real airplane because it would be too dangerous. An example would be learning to fly precision approaches to landing with zero visibility and a high crosswind. If you were in a real plane, you couldn't even try it and you would be diverted to another airport. Pushing these skills in a simulator will make you a better and safer pilot even when conditions are not so bad and may even save your lunch in an emergency.

Other examples include emergency simulations like multiple systems failures that can only be approximated poorly in the real aircraft. Simulators are far superior for training for these types of situations and may save your life some day.

Also, simulators allow you to run the same scenarios over and over again until you get it right. In a real plane, it may take too long to set up that exat scenerio more than a couple of times, the weather may not be present, or it may cost too much.

flyboy
05-31-2002, 11:07 AM
Another great benefit is that sims probably help your instrument scan out. I've never done any PC sim stuff, but I can't imagine you're spending much time scanning for traffic and checking for landmarks. Maybe someone who's done a lot of PC simming can clue me in.

With all that said, I still don't think a novice (with PC sim time under his belt) could land an airliner.

Whack-a-Mole
05-31-2002, 11:21 AM
Originally posted by Shagnasty
That is why training in a really good simulator is BETTER than training in a real plane in many ways.

Sorry...I was by no means saying a simulator is worthless. Far from it. They are excellent for all of the reasons you listed. A pilot can practice anything and not worry about trashing an expensive plane or more importantly killing him/herself or anyone else.

All I was trying to point out that all the sim time in the world still doesn't quite live up to actually getting behing the yoke of a real plane and having at it. Sooner or later actual air time needs to be put in. I also maintain that if the shit ever does hit the fan in real life a sim may have better prepared you for whatever contingencies you face in the mechanical sense of flying the plane but how you psychologically respond (work under real pressure) is anyone's guess (although I suppose a sim may mitigate some of that if you know that what needs to be done can be done thus giving you some hope).

It is interesting to note in the Gimli Glider story the pilot becomes so absorbed in the mechanical detail of flying the plane that he doesn't even notice he's about to land on a runway filled with people. The co-pilot notices but realizes they are committed anyway and doesn't bother to inform the pilot as he was obviously busy enough that he didn't need to be bothered with something new to distract him. I wonder if those pilots even had time to be scared (excpet for the first 10 seconds when they realize what is going on and before they dive into the business of surviving).

World Eater
05-31-2002, 12:27 PM
Those Gimli pilots were about as cool under pressure as you can get. I wonder if anyone sued the bejebus out of Air Canada. Is it possible to land with no wheels down?, has Boeing or Airbus taken that into consideration with the design of their planes? Would a pilot dump fuel before going in to minimize the chance of an explosion?

Shagnasty
05-31-2002, 12:39 PM
Yes, it is possible to land with no wheels down. Gear-Up landings happen all the time on smaller retractables. I saw one myself at Hansom AFB in Bedford, MA one day. It causes tremendous damage to the belly of the plane but is generally not fatal. Boeing and Airbus take these scenarios into account as well although I can't imagine that they would happen because there are so many backup hydraulic systems to get the gear down. A more likely scenerio is that one of the wheels comes down and fails to lock in place. You would certainly want to jettison fuel before you put a commercial airliner on its belly to make it as light as possible and minimize the risk of explosion. You also want to touch down as slowly and as gently as possible.

Whack-a-Mole
05-31-2002, 12:55 PM
Originally posted by Shagnasty
Yes, it is possible to land with no wheels down.

My brother was aboard an airliner landing in San Francisco that had to do a belly landing. It was a long time ago (late 70's I think) and it has been a long time since I heard the story but IIRC one of the back landing gear wouldn't come down (or wouldn't lock or something). In their case the plane didn't dump fuel as such. Instead it kept circling till most of its fuel was used up. The reason for this was the flight crew kept attempting to fix the problem till they were forced to land. I'm not sure if they landed on one set of landing gear or if they retracted all the gear and did a belly landing. Does anyone know whether landing on one set of gear is preferrable (possibly causing the wingtip to hit the ground and cause the plane to cartwheel) or would they rather do a no gear down landing in this instance?

FWIW there were no injuries save for some twisted ankles coming down the escape slides.

World Eater
05-31-2002, 01:17 PM
Glad to hear your brother wasn't hurt. Are their safer models of planes, in terms of design? IIRC it seemed like a DC-10 was crashing every other week back in the 80's. What ever happened to the Tri-star?, that was such a cool plane.

World Eater
05-31-2002, 01:22 PM
Doh!

there

ski
05-31-2002, 02:54 PM
Originally posted by Shagnasty
Yes, it is possible to land with no wheels down. Gear-Up landings happen all the time on smaller retractables. I saw one myself at Hansom AFB in Bedford, MA one day. It causes tremendous damage to the belly of the plane but is generally not fatal.


"Tremendous damage" is a bit of an overstatement. It's all in how the lands. A light plane could land gear up and just get light sheet metal damage to the underside (along with a bent prop and possible engine damage, but we're talking about belly damage here). Remember, the weight of the plane is distributed along the entire belly at this point, so the psi is fairly low. I've seen it where the aircraft just needed a new propellor, a bit of paint on the belly, and it was up flying again (there was no problem with the gear, the pilot just forgot to put it down).

Now how about this!!:

http://www.edwards.af.mil/archive/2001/c5_landing.html

Quintas
05-31-2002, 06:59 PM
What about a fighter pilot? Someone who flys f-16's and such. Even with their high level of training, would it just be too different flying an airliner?

Broomstick
05-31-2002, 09:57 PM
Originally posted by Ring
[B]Wait a minute. If you can't learn how to fly a 747 on a simulator, and you can't learn it by flying smaller planes then how do you learn to do it? Surely they don't take 747's up for training flights or do they?

Before the modern, full-motion simulator.... yeah, they took up passenger jets on training flights. Very expensive. Of course, the full-motion simulators are expensive, too, but they don't crash into flaming balls of twisted metal when a student screws up, either.

There are simulators that reproduce the experience of flying a jet so well that yes, they do count towards a license, type rating, or recurency. They also cost about as much an hour to run as a real jet. But, as Shagnasty pointed out, for some things a simulator is better than a real plane, allowing you to train for emergencies far too dangerous to simulate in real flight.

So, when you learn to fly passenger jets you spend a lot of time in the simulator. Such time is recorded as "sim time", just as time with an instructor is recorded as "dual" and time as second in command is "SIC" and time as pilot in command is "PIC". But it's all considered "real" time.