1 HOW TO DO WELL IN THE SIMULATOR (AIRBUS VERSION) Do

1 HOW TO DO WELL IN THE SIMULATOR (AIRBUS VERSION) Do
HOW TO DO WELL IN THE SIMULATOR (AIRBUS VERSION)
Do you like the simulator? Do you hate it? Some people can’t wait to strap
themselves into the box to do battle (weird) and others are terrified (not so weird).
Most pilots probably feel conflicting emotions. Worry that they might not perform
as well as they should in front of their peers or that the pressure might force them
into errors. Satisfaction when they complete the exercises successfully. A sense
of purification when it’s all over, similar to the glow of self-righteous relief when
you come out of the dentist.
What is the purpose of the simulator? To satisfy the megalomaniac sadism of
Training Captains? Believable, but not true (usually). Some of the work is boxticking, completing mandatory skill tests set by the regulatory authorities.
Relevance to real-life scenarios might be tenuous but clearly there must be tests
to compare actual pilot performance with laid-down standards. As an example,
looking at basic aircraft control after engine failure, the most demanding scenario
is considered to be a complete loss of thrust in one engine just after V1, and so
we have to demonstrate competence in dealing with this problem every time we
visit the simulator.
In the history of aviation, how many engines have failed just after V1? Many
pilots will never experience an engine failure at all, never mind during take-off.
But you never know – it could happen the next time you fly, or the time after that
or . . . Just consider this scenario – it’s 11 o’clock at night. The weather is grim –
gusty wind, rain, low cloud and turbulence. You’ve just taken off from runway 05L
at Manchester and are halfway round the right turn towards LISTO and halfway
through flap retraction. What’s going on? The plane wants to bank more to the
right. Is it just the turbulence? It’s not climbing! Ding…ding…ding…ding…ding.
ECAM Warning! Apply TOGA, Centre the Beta Target, Ten degrees nose up,
follow the flight director, Immediate ECAM Drills! MAYDAY, MAYDAY,
MAYDAY….
You can imagine the confusion, can’t you? Hopefully, after not too long, this crew
will figure out that they’ve lost the right engine. Their training and experience will
kick in and they will start to sort things out. Some things will have to be dealt with
straight away. Get the aircraft under control. Delay further flap retraction? What
speed to fly? What heading? Continue with the SID? What about terrain? What
about the emergency turn we briefed on which may have required a turn in the
opposite direction? Have we diagnosed the problem correctly?
Your engine failure (or malfunction) could happen during the climb, or in the
cruise, or during descent or on the approach. Could you deal with it? Suppose
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your colleague was away from the flight deck. You would have to sort things out
without another brain monitoring what you’re doing. If you’re the captain and it’s
you who have gone to drain your sump, have you briefed your co-pilot?
Later on, we’ll run through some situations as you might encounter them in the
simulator, but we’ll also tack on ‘Real Life Variations’ in the same vein as the
engine failure scenarios we mentioned above.
COMMANDERS AND COMMANDERS-IN-WAITING
On a normal line flight, there is an evens chance that the co-pilot is the Pilot
Flying. If there are no complications the captain will probably let his colleague run
the show the way the co-pilot wants to. If things are not going well because of
technical problems or for other reasons the captain will probably want to take
over the overall management of the flight – after all, he is the Commander and is
legally responsible for the aircraft’s safety. That is not to say that the captain will
necessarily take on the role of PF. It might be better to leave the co-pilot in this
role so that the captain is free of the task of physically controlling the aircraft and
can devote his attention to monitoring, analysis and decision-making (the
GRADE or DODAR loop). It’s CRM of course, making use of a resource – the copilot – in such a way as to reduce pressure on the Captain.
[Note to our lady pilots: please excuse the use of ‘he’, ‘him’ and ‘his’ rather than
‘he or she’, ‘him or her’ &c. It’s not misogyny, rather an attempt to make the text
more easily readable. Similarly, the title ‘cabin manager’ refers to the senior cabin
crew member.]
In the simulator, the Training Captain will probably brief the co-pilot under check
that he can retain the role of Commander when he is carrying out his non-normal
exercises. Of course, the LHS pilot will be available as a resource. The co-pilot
‘Commander’ can direct the LHS pilot to act either as PF or PNF, according to
the demands of the situation. Obviously, these exercises are invaluable to copilots for developing and practising captaincy skills. Make the most of them – it
will be of great benefit when the Command Course comes up.
In the discussion that follows, we will treat all pilots as Commanders or potential
Commanders. Even the most junior and inexperienced co-pilots must acquire the
skills we were talking about above, and the sooner you start practising, the more
quickly you will progress.
ARMCHAIR AVIATION
There is a difficulty that pilot’s face that is probably unique to aviation – the
requirement to perform exercises correctly first time without having practised
them for several months. If you want to play the guitar like Eric Clapton or the
violin like Vanessa Mae or curl free kicks like David Beckham you must practise
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for several hours every day, as these individuals do. If you did three singleengined NDBs every day you would do them brilliantly every time. But no, having
not had a go for perhaps half a year, the TC expects you to do it properly without
any practice at all! There are techniques you can use to help you with this
particular exercise, and we’ll look at these later on.
But there are things you can practise. You can sit in an armchair at home and
give yourself a rapid depressurisation, or an engine fire passing 10,000 feet on
climb-out, or electrical smoke over the middle of the Atlantic. The possibilities are
literally infinite – use your imagination! You can do the same thing driving into
work – the concentration required to drive your car safely while you’re giving
yourself a problem to solve is a good way of simulating extra mental pressure
(although you may get some funny looks from other drivers if they see you
donning your oxygen mask and checking your overhead panel – no matter, let
them smirk!)
PRIORITIES
An instinctive pilot reaction, reinforced by training, is to make an assessment of
time-criticality soon after a problem is recognised. If there is more than one task
to deal with a sequence of priorities must be established – items that must be
dealt with immediately, those that can be deferred until later and, if time is short,
those which can be ignored. If plenty of time is available the situation can be
resolved at a leisurely pace – checklists can be read slowly and methodically and
both pilots can monitor what the other is doing. In a way this is another element
of CRM – time is a resource that should be used as required.
Time might be in short supply because of various factors. Here’s another Sod’s
Law scenario: you’re nearing destination with a comfortable reserve of fuel but
before you can start your approach the airport closes for some reason or other.
So off you go to your diversion, but now you’re in the queue of other flights who
have taken the same action. After holding for a while, watching your fuel
disappear, you are at last cleared to make an approach. Sighs of relief all round!
On the intercept heading now. 'Flap 1, please.' Ding! What’s up? ECAM F/CTL
SLATS FAULT!! Now you’ve got to deal with this problem before your fuel gets
dangerously low. You’ve also got to keep calm because you know that people
make mistakes when they are under pressure and your flight deck colleague will
be feeling the tension too.
Time might be very short. What about a fire that can’t be extinguished? Or smoke
that’s getting worse. God forbid, suppose one of these horrors happened to you
over the ocean? What would you do? If you have previously encountered them in
your armchair aviating maybe you’ll have some idea of how to save the day.
Time available might be affected by other factors. The ECAM MEMO advises you
to ‘LAND ASAP’ in Red meaning ‘a high level of emergency’. Don’t delay actions
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and consider closest airport’. In other words, don’t prolong flight unnecessarily in
these circumstances. It doesn’t define ‘suitable’ because it is impossible to cater
for every set of circumstances – weather, airport aids and so on. The
Commander must make the decision, invariably after discussion with his co-pilot.
Whoever invented the mantra ‘Aviate, Navigate, Communicate’ deserves a Nobel
Prize – it encapsulates brilliantly the requirement for prioritisation. Looking back
at our V1 cut scenario – there is absolutely no point whatsoever in sending
‘MAYDAY’ before the aircraft is under control and following the correct flight path.
ATC can help you with neither of these.
WOMEN’S ROYAL AIR FORCE
This august body (of august bodies) does not exist any more. Nowadays the
ladies have been combined with the men (so to speak). But the acronym derived
from their initial letters is useful for deciding where you’re going to land having
completed the relevant non-normal procedures. It could be that you can continue
to your intended destination. Otherwise, when choosing an airport, consider:
W
weather – is it suitable for your non-normal aircraft status?
R
runway – is it long enough? Is it Wide enough? Does it have good
approach aids and lighting? Is there a crosswind? Is it wet or slippery?
A
autobrakes – although this item is covered by the approach checklist, it is
a good idea to make a considered judgement on what setting to use
beforehand
F
fuel – have you got enough for what you intend to do? Have you got too
much? And if so should you burn off fuel to get the aircraft weight down?
Remember to do the Overweight Landing checklist if applicable.
FINAL REVIEW
Some non-normal checklists include subsequent operational restrictions or tell
you which components are inoperative. You may have been running several
checklists that include these items. By the time you’re on final you might have
forgotten some of this stuff so always check the ‘STATUS’ page before you
commence the approach. The aircraft will remind you as you select flap 1, but it
is too late then to calculate landing distance required etc. Do not forget the QRH
summaries. Some pilots leave the QRH open at the relevant checklist, others
write the info down on a piece of paper.
On final approach, review:
•
inoperative components that will affect landing and rollout
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•
any changes to standard go-around procedure (for example, whether gear
and or flap retraction is affected)
•
manoeuvring on the ground – can you vacate the runway unassisted?
On the last point, can you steer off the runway without nosewheel steering? The
answer could be ‘yes’ if you can arrange to complete the landing roll at a highspeed exit, using careful differential braking. At a busy airport you will earn the
undying gratitude of the airport management, not to mention your fellow pilots
waiting to make an approach. However, what is your company’s policy on Right
Hand Seat taxiing? As a co-pilot, will you ignore company policy if you do not
usually taxi the aircraft?
WATCH THE BIRDIE!
In the majority of failures you will be left with the flight directors displayed; for
other failures you may loose the flight directors. However, no matter what the
failure, you will always be able to select the ‘bird’. There are a couple of
considerations when ‘flying the bird’. By Airbus’s definition it is a display of your
actual fight path vector taking into consideration cross wind, headwind etc.–
where the bird goes, so do you!
The IVSI is an IRS driven instantaneous indication of your vertical speed and as
on most aircraft a very useful tool to crosscheck your performance, on the Airbus,
do just that – crosscheck.
The ‘bird’ display is the result of several iterations and therefore is subject to lag.
During a smooth day, you can set an attitude as normal and the bird will be rocksteady. On others it can bounce around a bit. Unfortunately, because the display
is quite large and ‘becomes’ the focus of your attention, it is easy to forget the
basics and there will be a strong temptation to chase the bird – don’t. If it is
bouncy, select an attitude on the attitude indicator and hold it, take a mean value
of the bird display to determine what is happening.
If the flight directors are available, you can then follow them but they are very
lively; the flight director commands are virtually impossible to follow accurately.
Most crews elect to fly the bird with flight directors off. This allows the blue track
line to appear and acts as one of the most useful ‘bugs’ to have. Place the fin of
the bird under the tick and you will be flying the selected track. As an aside,
selecting the flight directors off when you have HDG – V/S selected also displays
the blue tick; only this time it displays heading and you need to fly the blue line
under the centre of the aircraft symbol to fly the heading.
Remember that in Normal and Alternate laws, you are still fly by wire, select an
attitude and let the aircraft auto-trim do its job. Even in Direct or Mechanical laws,
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select an attitude, this time hold it yourself and see what the bird is doing – refine
the attitude.
Warning: Depending upon the failure and the weather, many PFs brief that they
will continue to fly the aircraft all the way to landing usually because of handling
difficulties and the problems associated with handing over control at short finals
to somebody who has not touched the stick for a couple of hours. If you have
elected to remain in control to landing, as you flare and because of the reason
above where you have been watching the bird like a hawk [!] there is a strong
temptation to select the landing attitude using the bird. There are 2 problems:
•
Lag. By the time the bird shows level flight, you will in all likelihood be
climbing.
•
Placing the bird on the horizon to achieve a smooth touchdown will mask
your true attitude, especially if you are close to Vls – remember the tailscrape limits 7.5 degrees for the A321 and 10 degrees for the A320! Look
out of the window!
GOING AROUND WITH THE BIRD
To initiate a Go-round push the thrust levers forward to the TOGA detent and
command ‘GO ROUND FLAP’. Not only does this action command TOGA thrust
from all engines but with at least Flap 1 selected then SRS and GA TRK modes
engage. On hearing the command ‘GO ROUND FLAP’ the PNF retracts the flap
lever one step. As a consequence of entering the Go-round phase the Missed
approach procedure for the Approach just flown available, (NAV is armed in
blue). PULL for HDG or PUSH for MANAGED G/A. Later aircraft irrespective of
whatever FD mode you had, on selecting TOGA and with at least Flap 1 selected
the FD’s appear automatically in SRS G/A TRK mode.
In the earlier Airbus’s as you select TOGA you may not get the luxury of pop-up
flight directors. So kill the bird, select an appropriate attitude and ask for the flight
directors on. They will come back on in HDG V/S mode. Re-apply TOGA on the
Thrust Levers to get SRS G/A TRK then select managed NAV or HDG as
appropriate.
Do not forget the autopilot and you can always select CLB THR before the THR
RED ALT to make life slower, if appropriate.
Airbus does not recommend a manually flown go around using the bird. In this
case, select an appropriate attitude, then refine. Once stable, Autopilot ON,
select HDG – V/S, Flight Directors on ‘Pull for Selected Altitude’ confirm CLIMB –
OPEN CLIMB.
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At the end of the day, you need know what to expect from the aircraft you are
flying. Unfortunately, most simulators will be fitted with the latest software and
may not be representative of aircraft within your particular fleet!
THE V1 CUT
The stabilizer trim you set before take-off is intended to result in a stick force of
close to zero when the rotation is complete. If you lose an engine you will also
lose the pitch-up effect of that engine. In other words the aircraft will now feel
nose-heavy. You will notice that more of a pull is required to initiate rotation. But
once rotation has started, if you keep pulling hard, there is a danger that the
rotation rate will be too high. Remember that you’re aiming for 2 to 2½ degrees
per second, slightly less than normal (2½ to 3). A too rapid rotation might result in
a tail strike or might leave your IAS short of V2 when rotation is complete. In
summary, stick forces will initially feel quite different compared with a normal
take-off, at least until NORMAL or ALTERNATE law has blended in.
‘Emergency turn ‘as soon as practicable’? What does this mean? At the very
least the aircraft must be under control and must be climbing before you start the
turn.
It is strongly recommended to select TOGA to improve climb performance, but be
prepared to nurse the good engine if it is showing signs of distress (such as very
high EGT – not uncommon in the multiple bird-strike scenario).
If a fire drill is required, remember to check ECAM to make sure that the bottle(s)
discharge when you press the appropriate PB. You should see the ECAM action
line disappear and you will get a discrete light in the ‘discharge’ PB.
Do not forget that in the ‘Real’ case, the Autopilot will usually be available.
If you reach sector safe before completing the emergency turn, resist the
temptation to call for ‘Vertical Speed Zero – pull’ to get quicker acceleration
because you consider that because you are above the high ground ‘you are
safe’. You must complete the emergency turn first – stick to SOPs.
So, you’ve had your engine failure taking off from Manchester and you are now
pointing at Wallasey VOR. With 18-odd tonnes of fuel sloshing around in the
tanks the aircraft mass is around 76/87 tonnes [A320/A321]. Consider where you
are; Manchester. In the main, Manchester is fairly benign when you consider the
25 mile sector MSA. Now, put yourself at Innsbruck and your flight deck
colleague points out you’ve had your good engine at take-off thrust for 10
minutes. What to do? If you ease it back to max continuous thrust, will you be
able to sustain any rate of climb at all while you complete the clean up? But if you
don’t throttle it back, will it melt? Maybe you ran through this scenario when you
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drove in to work and decided how you would play it. Just as importantly, you
discussed it with your flight deck colleague as part of the take-off briefing.
Okay, back at Manchester, at last you’re clean, at Green Dot approaching the
Wallasey VOR. The QRH stuff is done, the decision has been made to return to
Manchester and while holding at WAL you’ve advised ATC, the cabin crew, the
passengers, the company engineers, operations, your handling agent, your
mother . . .
Now you’ve got another dilemma to face:
•
•
do you land immediately at your current mass?
do you go into the hold to burn off the extra fuel and then land?
When crews meet this scenario in the simulator, some of them choose the first
option, on the basis of ‘we should not prolong flight on only one engine and we
know that the aircraft is certified to land above the max landing weight in an
emergency, albeit with a couple or provisos’. Impeccable logic, isn’t it?
Other crews take the second option. ‘We’ve got 12 tonnes of fuel to burn, which
will take about 4 to 5 hours in the hold. It’s acceptable to fly on one engine a little
longer [not necessarily 4 hours!] to get the mass down so we can use a lower
Vref’. Again, faultless logic.
Who is to say which the ‘correct’ solution is? For what it’s worth, the majority of
crews take the last course of action, but whichever option is chosen, if the
outcome is a successful landing with an undamaged aircraft and uninjured crew
and passengers you can perhaps say that all these solutions are acceptable.
HEY, WHAT ABOUT US?
A while back we abandoned a crew who were struggling with an engine failure
during climb-out. We left them halfway round the turn towards LISTO in the
middle of flap retraction. In general, if there is any doubt about terrain, the best
course of action is to leave your flaps where they are, maintain current speed.
Depending on where you are and what acceleration altitude is set in the MCDU
you may still be in SRS mode and climbing at V2+10. However, if you have
reached the acceleration altitude THRUST CLIMB / OPEN CLIMB will be
annunciated on the FMA, but go for – SELECTED SPEED whilst maintaining
TOGA on the good engine. This will keep you climbing. Navigation-wise, if you
have already started the SID, continue to follow it, at least until you’ve got a
better plan sorted out. THRUST CLIMB / OPEN CLIMB and SELECTED SPEED
mode will trap your speed at its current value and give you a better gradient than
if you allow the aircraft to accelerate. Most SIDs, even at terrain-critical airports,
are based on shallowish climb gradients to cater for the case of engine failure
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during departure. Once terrain clearance is assured you can select V/S ZERO pull and clean up etc. Do not forget to make use of the autopilot if available.
THE SINGLE-ENGINED NON-PRECISION APPROACH
If you are down to one engine in real life you will probably try to find somewhere
to land with either good weather, an ILS and no cross wind, or all three
(remember WRAF?) In the simulator we cover the worst-case scenario by asking
crews to fly a single-engined non-precision approach in marginal weather and if
feeling mean, a brisk cross wind.
As far as tracking is concerned, the secret is to make sure the track diamond is
over the inbound course with TRK/FPA selected on the FCU.
When you finally get visual contact, don’t relax! Your work is not over! Consider
leaving the autopilot engaged while you assimilate the visual picture and perhaps
even while you manoeuvre onto the centreline, so as to avoid inadvertent pitch
inputs. Finally, select FLIGHT DIRECTORS OFF, TRACK/VERTICAL SPEED
and use the bird.
For the vertical profile, the IVSI . . . yeah, yeah, we’ve done that already.
THE SINGLE-ENGINED GO-AROUND
This should be considered during your approach briefing. In the event of a goaround, will you carry out the promulgated procedure or will you modify it? For
example, if terrain is not significant and the procedure is complicated, you could
ask ATC if you can climb out straight ahead to make life easy for yourself. If
terrain is significant, how will you fly the go-around? Do you have the
performance to safely fly a go around? Is it safe to clean up straight ahead at
1500 feet AGL? If not, what sort of escape manoeuvre will you perform? Even at
Manchester, the published go around procedure is straight ahead into the hills.
(Real life variation: it is unlikely that you would make a single-engine approach
into an airport with critical terrain unless no other options were available.)
However, if your company has a published EFATO procedure for that runway
which is safe for a heavy aircraft commencing its takeoff run, then because you
are starting off at flying speed, at altitude and much lighter, it ought to be safe for
the go-around – even if it is a baulked landing and you have touched down
during the go-around.
ONE-AND-A-BIT ENGINES
Some engine problems, such as overheat, might result in you running an engine
at reduced or idle thrust. It is a good idea to look at the Engine Failure and
Shutdown checklist and pick out the items that are relevant; such as GPWS flap
override switch and fuel balancing.
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Note that depending on the aircraft configuration certain combinations of TLA
faults and same side EIU failures on FADEC engines can signal a default ‘idle
thrust’ regardless of thrust lever setting, not helpful if idle is demanded on your
‘good’ engine.
REVERSER UNLOCKED
If a reverser deploys with take-off or climb thrust set the aircraft (if it doesn’t fall
apart) will be on its back very quickly. If there are any doubts about controllability
then reduce thrust on the faulty engine or if you still have concerns, consider
ordering PNF to complete the ENGINE SHUTDOWN QRH drill, obviously
monitored by you.
DEAD-STICK LANDING
The dual engine failure check list does not cover the case of inability to relight
either engine. Have you given any thought to how you’d fly a dead-stick landing?
A few years ago one Canadian 767 crew did it – successfully – after running out
of fuel (their totalizer was inoperative and insufficient fuel had been loaded) as
did an A330 crew into the Azores following a fuel leak.
If the Emergency Generator is available, at least you’ll have Blue hydraulics and
sufficient instrumentation. One suggestion is to spiral down over a suitable airport
and arrange to be abeam the runway threshold downwind at about 5000 feet with
gear down and flap 2. Fly a normal-shaped circuit and on final approach select
flap 3. Carry extra speed for the flare from the high rate of descent. Aim for a 5
mile point at 3000ft agl in GEAR DOWN, FLAP 3 configuration, [about twice the
normal altitude]. For more detail, look at QRH 1.20 and FCOM 3.02.70 page 20 –
expanded ECAM.
If you’re trying to do a straight-in glide, best range speed approximates to green
dot – your descent gradient will be approx 3o (5%). But look at the expanded
ECAM pages, in the notes; you will see predicted rates of descent in various
configurations.
FIRE AND SMOKE
There are, surprisingly, no recall items for fire or smoke in the flight deck or
cabin, even donning oxygen masks is not regulated, but is strongly advised. In
real life, if it is the flight deck that is affected you will be hampered by fear as well
as the physical impediments of restricted vision and communication difficulties.
Here we have possibly the worst case of time-criticality. Remember that in the
past aircraft have come to grief when these situations have escalated out of
control, so if there are any actions you can do to ease the situation while your
colleague is fumbling for the QRH, you might be able to prevent this outcome.
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Smoke in the flight deck is without doubt a ‘mayday’ situation and it’s probably a
good idea to turn towards an airport straight away and start a descent. Over the
middle of the ocean you might also have to contend with imminent ditching. Think
about it the next time you do some armchair flying.
If you think that the electrical system is the source, select ELEC EMERG
CONFIG in accordance with the QRH. You will lose nothing of importance in the
flight deck and there’s a possibility you’ll isolate the faulty component. This action
will come in the checklist anyway later on. If you think the air conditioning is the
smoke source, try to isolate the defective pack. This action will prevent
contaminated air being pumped into the cabin and may even remove the smoke
source. However BEWARE! Selecting ELEC EMERG CONFIG too early will kill
the AC2 bus, the electrical power source for controlling PACK 2 is on AC Bus 2.
If PACK 2 is the problem, you have just killed the only way you can turn it off. It
will continue to operate, belching smoke into the aircraft. Look at the QRH next
time you are on T16 to the Canaries!
If you don’t know what the source is, don’t sit there doing nothing! Try the air
conditioning checklist first and if that doesn’t work, then do the electrical / smoke
removal checklist.
Do you know the smoke removal checklist? No reason why you should – there
are no recall items. But again, while your colleague is trying to find the right page
there are things you can do in anticipation of the checklist:
Descend to below FL100 if practicable to allow the Ram Air Valve to be opened.
In summary, thorough knowledge of the fire and smoke checklists and an
appreciation of the consequences of actions required might save the day.
RAPID DEPRESSURISATION
When you call ‘MAYDAY’, if you can get some sort of ATC clearance before you
plummet, so much the better. In all cases, select A7700. Your current squawk will
obviously be seen by the sector you are flying in, look at the sector diagram for
the London TMA. Squawking A7700 will be seen by all sectors above and below
you and alert them that somebody may be on his way. Have TCAS display set to
below, and select ROSE NAV, 40 miles to allow you to build an air plot of who is
around you. It would be pointless doing the drill perfectly and then meeting
another aircraft on the way down. Deselecting RA by selecting TA will prevent the
TCAS telling you ‘CLIMB . . . CLIMB’. The question is: ‘how long do I spend trying
to get an emergency descent clearance?’ And of course no-one can give you an
answer – you must use your judgement as to when to start down if ATC can’t
help. However, remember you’ve got roughly 12 minutes of passenger and cabin
crew oxygen available and slightly more for the pilots. [When was the last time
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you dispatched with the minimum oxygen pressure?] If you stay aloft a short time
while you get a clearance and then descent at current IAS (in case of damage)
you’ll still have plenty of time to get down to breathable air before the oxygen
runs out.
One of the difficulties in this scenario is communication with cabin crew – they
can’t talk to you with their masks on, so its one-way traffic only. Having done the
QRH checklist you could do a combined PA for both the cabin crew and the
passengers, along the lines of: ‘ . . . we’ve lost cabin pressure, so everyone make
sure you’ve got your oxygen masks on . . . cabin crew stand by for further
instructions . . . ‘ This satisfies two needs, those of the cabin crew and more
importantly, the needs of the passengers who have been pumped up by the
press and disaster movies; they now know that you are alive and dealing with the
situation and will get back to them when events are under control. At the end of
the descent your PA could be ‘ . . . cabin manager, take off your mask and report
to the flight deck . . .’ Or if for some reason you need to talk to the cabin manager
during the descent, say you are stuck at FL190 over the Alps, you could tell him
on the PA to don a portable bottle and report to the flight deck. He can then listen
to what you say over the speaker.
One final point - if during the cruise one pilot is leaving the flight deck it could be
a good idea to ‘armchair pilot’ review the rapid depressurisation drill, and even
the drift down drill, because the remaining pilot will be unmonitored if he has to
carry them out.
HYDRAULIC PROBLEMS
There are a few things worth considering. With any Hydraulic problem, certain
spoilers will be inoperative leading to increased landing distances and decreased
autoland capability. Additionally, flaps and slats travel will be slow [more about
these later]. For the major systems, GREEN or YELLOW, then other items, nose
wheel steering, braking, thrust reversers etc will be affected. ECAM helps, but
looking in the QRH architecture diagrams is better.
FLAPS AND SLATS
Failure of an SFCC channel or Hydraulic system will mean that slat and or flap
operation will be affected. Don’t be distracted by clicking the IAS knob on the
MCP one knot at a time to try to match speed to current flap position – it’s a
waste of your mental capacity. During extension, it’s better to wait until the flaps
have attained the next selected position and then dial the speed back
accordingly. If you’re retracting them, dial up the speed first, and then when
you’ve got the speed, run the flaps. Remember, that if the autopilot is available
and in managed speed, the Autothrust system will command to the flap lever
position, not the actual flap position so use selected speed. The characteristic
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speeds, Vls etc are computed separately and the normal protections will not be
affected….. however.
For partial flap landings the flare technique requires some thought. The main
differences are:
•
•
•
•
your approach speed will be greater
your approach rate of descent will be greater
your attitude will be higher on the approach so little if any roundout is required
your touchdown position will be deeper into the runway reducing landing
distance
The higher speed means your elevators will be more effective when you raise the
nose for the flare. Over-rotating during the flare might cause a balloon and or
float you halfway down the runway or, with the high pitch attitude, might hit the
tail on the ground.
One solution is to check the descent at the point where you would normally start
your flare and then ease the stick slightly forward again so that your sink rate will
be more civilised when you touch down and your tail won’t be too low.
Remember the constraints on the touchdown itself set out in the overweight
landing checklist? <360 fpm on touchdown. Get PNF to callout the rate of
descent as you approach the runway so that you can judge the roundout.
Real life variation: The Flight Crew Training Manual states that the landing
distance published is 1.67 the demonstrated landing distance achieved in
certification. These are non-factored test pilot figures. Mere mortals like us fly
slightly faster, are not on the ideal approach path and flare inconsistently. So
legally you could attempt an approach with a GREEN Hydraulic failure in a 320 at
about 77 tonnes at Bristol (LDA 6000 ft) assuming Dry and ISA. But of course
you wouldn’t do this, would you, even if that’s where your car was parked. In
other words, consider practical rather than legal runway length when doing your
W R A F assessment.
LANDING GEAR
Remember that there are 2 proximity detectors on the stay lock of the gear
operated from 2 different systems. One system is required to obtain a gear
locked down indication. Failures will show on the ECAM wheels page. In any
event, don’t start throwing the passengers down the slides if your aircraft is safely
standing on three legs after you’ve stopped on the runway, and remember to
brief your cabin manager accordingly. You are required to “Ensure that all the
landing gears are secured before initiating the disembarkation [before switching
OFF the seat belt signs]”. To minimise the risk of fire on touchdown, during the
flare, you will be required to shut engines down using the master switches so it is
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going to go very dark and quiet with dead engines and no APU but you can still
deplane your pax via normal steps.
WE NEED TO TALK
It’s obvious that the cabin crew must be fully briefed (remember NITS?) when
you’re dealing with non-normals. There might be difficulties, though, such as the
depressurisation scenario we looked at earlier.
Here’s one for you – you’ve just taken off from somewhere when one of the
engines surges. The crashing and banging noises will naturally alarm you but at
least you can work out what’s going on. Imagine what it’s like in the cabin,
especially at night with the engine flaming like a roman candle from the tail pipe.
Secondly, Air Traffic will be convinced that you are on fire, so there will be a lot of
chat on the RT despite the advice issued by NATS to controllers. The cabin crew
manager may get onto the interphone and try to call you but you might be too
busy to respond straight away. Now you’ve created a problem for the cabin
manager – why aren’t the pilots responding? Surely they know there’s something
wrong. Or do they? Should I go and tell them?
One way round this problem is for one of the pilots to briefly select PA and
transmit ‘cabin crew stand by’ or something similar. It will only take a second or
two but it will give tons of reassurance to the cabin crew, and possibly to the
passengers as well [remember the rapid depressurisation earlier]. Then when
things aren’t so hectic you can brief them properly.
While we’re talking about PAs, remember that the objective is to minimise any
fears the passengers may have. Your choice of words is important and, like our
politicians, you might need to be ‘economical with the truth’. For example, ‘we’ve
had a problem with one of the engines so we’ve shut it down but the aircraft will
fly quite happily on one engine’ (oh my god! they’ve only got one engine left!)
might not be as comforting as ‘ . . . we’re running at reduced thrust on one of the
engines’ (pah! reduced thrust! big deal!) They’re not to know that the thrust is
reduced to zero.
On the topic of communications, having declared MAYDAY, if the situation eases
consider changing your status to PAN. This will release some of the alerted
ground personnel (such as medical staff in nearby hospitals and off-airport fire
services) who can subsequently stand down.
AND FINALLY (1) . . .
I know I keep banging on about it, but do remember to use the autopilot if
available.
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AND FINALLY (2) . . .
To answer the question we posed at the beginning: the main purpose of the
simulator is to give you the chance to practise dealing with problems that you
may encounter on the line – in other words it’s a confidence-builder. You can also
derive considerable benefit after the simulator check from reviewing your
performance and thinking about any change of tactics you might want to
incorporate into your methods of problem-solving for the future.
Good luck!
NOTE: IF THERE IS APPARENT CONFLICT, COMPANY SOPs AND
TRAINING DEPARTMENT POLICY TAKE PRECEDENCE OVER ANY
SUGGESTIONS IN THIS PAPER
RJW
September 2009
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