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vertisol

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Wondering if any of you have seen the Ice Pilots series on the National Geographic channel.

Does it really look like a good way of getting onto commercial aviation?
 

tuppaware

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Wondering if any of you have seen the Ice Pilots series on the National Geographic channel.

Does it really look like a good way of getting onto commercial aviation?
The pilots they train look like they have to deal with a lot of non-normal situations /
I mean flying through -40c temps.
 

jb747

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Wondering if any of you have seen the Ice Pilots series on the National Geographic channel.

Does it really look like a good way of getting onto commercial aviation?
No, I haven't, but I have flown with a lot of people who gained their initial experience flying up in Canada.

For a young pilot, experience gained in places like the Australian outback, PNG, or Canada, will give their flying a very solid foundation. Way better than either cadetship, or in the circuit at Bankstown.
 

Major

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What sort of training is required for an endorsement of a new aircraft ? The introduction of the 380 comes to mind, being a switch from Boeing design to Airbus.
 

jb747

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What sort of training is required for an endorsement of a new aircraft ? The introduction of the 380 comes to mind, being a switch from Boeing design to Airbus.
The initial cadre of instructors and line pilots for the A380 all had experience on the A330. Some of the 'chosen' senior check pilots moved from the 767 and 747 a couple of years before the planned 380 arrival to gain that experience. All of them did their conversions with Airbus in Toulouse, and flew some hours in the AB test aircraft.

Stepping back a bit further, when the A330 was ordered, not only did the initial pilots train with Airbus, but some were also seconded to current 330 operators (Dragonair, Malaysian, etc) to get those hours.

For about the first year after introduction, slots were allocated out of seniority order, to ensure that continued strong Airbus experience. After that though, the training was opened up to all, as per normal. The minimum time that a 747 pilot could do the conversion would be approximately four months. That will consist of a month of full time ground school, another month of simulator exercises (about 13 all told), and then it takes two to three months of line flying before the final check. There is no upgrade training on the 380 (or the 744 for that matter). Captains are all previous captains, etc.

Conversion across similar types will be quicker. About 3 months for 767 to 747, or 330 to 380. Some conversions are almost non existent...I hold a 757 endorsement, but have never set foot in one. And apparently 330 to 340 (or vice versa) takes about a week.
 

jb747

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This is the biggest newbie question but how the hell can you see the painted lines rolling when along the tarmac esp. when sitting so high up in like a 747 / 380 ?! Is there like a camera behind the front landing gear or something?
;)
Well, they're generally pretty thick lines. They are quite clearly visible. I've never gotten out to measure them, but I'd hazard a guess that taxiway markings are about 25 cm across, and even in a 747 (in which the cockpit is higher than a 380) they are very clear. If you have a look here you'll get the idea (YouTube - ‪A380 take off‬‏)

Each time you change aircraft, you need to learn just where the undercarriage is, relative to your seat position. In the 747, the nose gear is quite a way behind your seat, and the main gear lots further than that, so in some tight turns you need to actually place yourself just about over the grass for the gear to be in the right spot. The 380 is a little easier to taxi in some ways, but the main gear track is wider, so you need to be very aware of where the inside wheel is when turning a corner...if you were to put yourself on the centreline of most turns, the gear would probably clip the edge... The 380 has two cameras to help with this. There is a camera in the tail looking down over the aircraft, and another on the bottom of the fuselage looking forward at the nose gear. When on the ground we can select these cameras instead of the attitude indicator.

Second big newbie question, when taking off into the bright sunlight, how do you cope with the extreme glare? Do you have super coated sunglasses? ;) Or would the right answer be, pilot/s are too occupied with their instrument to be looking out alot.
You squint a lot. Sunglasses can be a problem as you need to see inside and out, and when it's very bright outside, it's always very dark inside.
 

jb747

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Does an Airbus aircraft, with its joystick control, also have the shaker action? Or does it just inject 4000 volts through the seat (or an audible alarm) as the stall warning?
Not too sure how much the 4000 volts would help...

No, there's no stick feedback at all in the Airbus. Not only do the two sticks move totally independently of each other, but also, there is no movement associated with autopilot inputs.

In normal law, if you pitch up very steeply (you'll be limited to 25-30 degrees) the pitch will slowly reduce, even if you have full back stick in, as you approach the stall. In alternate law, the pitch down won't occur, but the stall warning will activate, but the stick will remain 'dead'.
 

jb747

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Recently I was watching a Just Planes video of the cockpit of a Orient Thai flight using an old 747 ,at engine start the flight engineer used the expression "Max Motoring",what does this mean?
When the engines are started, they are initially run up using air (from the APU or an external source). They are run up to at least 15%, but normally as much as 25%, prior to introducing any fuel into the combustion chambers. When the engine stops accelerating, that's 'max motoring', and it's time for fuel and ignition.

The higher you get, generally, the more stable the start (it runs up properly, and doesn't stagnate, stall, or overtemp). The engines are at their most unstable during the start sequence, and aborted starts aren't at all uncommon....mostly you just turn the fuel off, continue to motor it until the temperature winds down, select another source of ignition, and try again.

Most of the more modern aircraft have automatic starting sequences that will take care of the entire start, and can even handle an aborted start, cool down, and restart. On the 747, that works both on the ground, and in flight, whilst in the 380, it only works on the ground. Manual starts still happen fairly regularly though, for lots of reasons.
 

jb747

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Pre-flight checks

Just wondering how many physical preflight checks you do as a pilot? When flying in raining many years ago I used to do a detailed physical inspection of the aircraft every time I flew followed various system and other checks in the cabin. Do commercial jet pilots actually do physical inspections or rely on reports from engineers?
Yep, every time in my operation.

On the 767, even on domestic sectors, there was a walk around the aircraft every sector. You didn't often find things that the engineers missed, but occasionally you'd see something. Actually also a good time to have a look around too, and get a picture of what the weather is up to.

On the 747 and 380, that same external preflight is also carried out every time, but normally it's done by one of the second officers...especially when it's wet and nasty.

One simple thing that you are always on the look out for is the gear pins....
 

Nigelinoz

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In an Airbus how much "feel" do you get through the joystick,is it difficult to learn how much pressure you have to use to achieve the desired change in attitude,for example how far back on the joystick do you have to pull to get an A380 off the ground without going too far and causing a tail strike ?
Cheers
N'oz
 

samh004

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I'll bite.

One simple thing that you are always on the look out for is the gear pins....
Why are you always on the look out for the gear pins, and what are they?
 

jb747

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Why are you always on the look out for the gear pins, and what are they?
Any time the aircraft is towed, and often when the engineers are working on it, they will insert large pins, about 20 cm long, into the landing gear. These pins are inserted in such a way, that they will stop the landing gear from retracting. Good idea when towing or doing some work on the hydraulics, but not so good if you take off with one still inserted.

The opposite is sometimes seen too. Look on the net and you should be able to find a picture of an aircraft in a hangar, or at a gate, sitting on its nose. That's what happens when you forget to insert all of the pins, and then select the gear up....which is sometimes called for in the work the engineers do.
 

jb747

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Could someone describe what the pilot does before, during and after for a typical long haul flight? For example on a flight SYD-SIN.
Well, if you believe some people, we just sit there and count our dollars.

But, the reality is that it is often very busy, and rarely is nothing happening for a long time....and quite honestly, if you, as a pilot sit there doing nothing, then you're in the wrong job. And equally, if you think nothing is happening, then you don't know what is going on.

Before flight, you will have a few minutes to look at the flight plan, the weather, aircraft status, and to make up your mind how you are going to tackle the flight, and how much, if any, extra fuel you will take. Once you get to the aircraft, with 3 people working, it takes about 40 minutes to get an A380 ready for push back. In that time, every switch in the cockpit will be looked at, the FMC loading will be checked at least twice, the performance data will be done at least four times. Charts pulled from books, read and briefed, clearances gained, numerous applications loaded (some of which you need before take off, some just in case).

Once established in the cruise things settle down, to roughly a 20 minute cycle. You will have a look at every system in the aircraft, make a radio call, check the fuel roughly every 20 minutes. You will be loading the FMC with alternative destinations as you go, not only keeping them updated in the nav system, but also keeping an eye on their weather. You might also use some of the time to have a look at the approaches available as you go (for instance what approach can I do at Baku?), because, its too late to look after something goes wrong.

You constantly need to keep an eye out for what other aircraft are up to. Has somebody got a block clearance, that might include your altitude? ATC are good, but you see them get things wrong quite regularly, especially near some of the national boundaries.

Heading up to Europe can be a bit of chess game. Do you try to climb early, and accept the fuel penalty, in the hope that that will get you a better height across Afghanistan. Or accept low, and slow down, in the hope that it won't get any worse.

At some point you need to look at your destination. Load the FMC with the expected arrival options. Get the weather. Look at the performance and or fuel options. Make up a plan, and have some fall back options. It's a bit late to start thinking of what you'll do as you go around off an approach. You never know when things will change, so have enough info to be flexible (for instance after a go around in London a couple of years ago, plan one was to got to Stansted...but we ended up in Amsterdam, which was about plan 4).

There's plenty to do. There are, of course, quiet periods, and there are others where everything happens at once (actually it's a rule that if somebody rings up the cockpit, as soon as you answer the phone, there is a radio call for you....). And yes, there is time for discussion of most topics under the sun, but as much time is spent pulling out and reading manuals, refreshing oneself on how we'll be handling the icing conditions that will exist when we arrive, or just looking up some sections of the manual, when you've actually got the aircraft there to look at as well.

How far in advance do you know what route you will be flying?
We work on a two month roster, so you could know up to two months in advance. On the other hand, if you have a 'blank line', you have no allocated flying for the roster, and just respond to whatever appears. Mostly you will have about 36 hours notice, unless....
Do you get late call ups like if the scheduled pilot falls ill?
....you are 'standby', in which case you're supposed to be able to launch in 3 hours from the time of the phone call. Two weeks ago, I was on a day off, and was asked to operate a flight out of Melbourne, leaving in about 2 hours.

What work on the ground do you do before the flight? Check weather? Calculate fuel requirements?
Yep, you've got 5 to 10 minutes to do that. A flight plan package (plan/notams/weather) to Europe could consist of up to 70 pages..and you need to find the important, and disregard the tripe...so we split up who does the various sections.

Many years ago (before 9-11) I visited the cockpit of a 747 during a long haul flight (the view was amazing). The pilot and co-pilot weren't doing a lot.
By definition, you were permitted up there when things were quiet. And even then, if you were to walk into a cockpit, and it seemed busy, then I'd suggest I'd rather not be on that flight. A lot of the time you are watching what the aircraft is doing, and hopefully, thinking out ahead of time, what comes next. Even when talking to you, the pilots will almost invariably rest one hand on the control wheel (on a Boeing anyway), and they will be turned in towards the centre...they can feel what the autopilot is doing, and see the centre displays, and the opposite flight displays. And of course, they can listen to the radio.

And were free to talk for quite a while. Are visits like this still even possible after 9-11? How do you pass the time when your full attention is not needed?
No. Totally banned these days. And, as I've said there's a lot to do so it's never boring. Though, perhaps boring would be good, as it means nothing is going wrong.

After the flight I assume you go to hotel and rest. How long before your next flight?
Varies depending upon what you've done, and what you'll do next. 767 domestically, you might be back at work in 9 hours, but long haul stuff will normally be at least 12 hours, and most likely 24 to 36. Longer slips exist of course, but they only happen when there isn't an earlier flight to put you on.
 

ROBSKI

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Wow what a great read so far.

Thanks JB for taking the time to answer peoples questions :cool:

Robski
 

jb747

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In an Airbus how much "feel" do you get through the joystick,is it difficult to learn how much pressure you have to use to achieve the desired change in attitude,for example how far back on the joystick do you have to pull to get an A380 off the ground without going too far and causing a tail strike ?
There is no conventional feel in the stick. For instance a speed change will not cause any change in stick loading.

It is, of course, spring loaded, but the response to movement varies depending upon the law. Near the ground, pitch is actually in a variation of direct law, as normal would be totally counter intuitive. Rotation isn't all that difficult, but it takes a bit of learning to feel a derotation...initially it's just too much.

A tailstrike attitude limit appears on the PFD during rotation.....don't pitch to it!
 

jb747

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What Aircraft do you routinely fly JB747?
In contrast to my user name, I actually fly the A380.

I've also flown in command on the 747-400, 767-200/300, and as an FO on the 747-200/300/400. And in a previous life, A4G, MB326H, and CT4.
 
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Nigelinoz

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Wow what a great read so far.

Thanks JB for taking the time to answer peoples questions :cool:

Robski
+1 from me jb747,
As someone with a huge interest in aviation I really appreciate the fact the you are so willing
to spend so much of your free time in answering these questions,it's really very kind of you
and we are very fortunate to have you as a member of AFF.
Thank You
N'oz
 

Major

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In contrast to my user name, I actually fly the A380.

I've also flown in command on the 747-400, 767-200/300, and as an FO on the 747-200/300/400. And in a previous life, A4G, MB326H, and CT4.
Did you ever fly off The Melbourne ?
 

jb747

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Did you ever fly off The Melbourne ?
Well, if I go back to my earliest life, before I became a pilot, I was an RAN Observer...which is basically a navigator. I did two cruises on the war canoe in that role, but by the time I got to the A4, the ship was running down. I had actually completed all of the quals required at Nowra, before going out to deck qualify, but then, over the course of about a week they lost two aircraft off the ship. The A4 was temporarily withdrawn, but we never went back. So, I got close...but that was it.

Both accidents looked similar, in that they were both off the catapult. But, one was a soft shot, in which the catapult basically just dragged the aircraft off the end at about 40 knots, whilst the other was an engine failure on the cat....he launched at the normal speed...but it was a very poor glider. Both pilots ejected.
 

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