I was genuinely embarrassed for them

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lownslow
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I was genuinely embarrassed for them

Post by lownslow »

Couldn't believe this. There I was on a gorgeous day up in the flight levels, not a cloud in sight, when a flight checks in with ATC not far from my position and requests a block of altitudes. Now, bear in mind that this airline checking in exclusively flies a type that's well known for its docile handling and with their present hiring policy I know both pilots will have their ATPLs. The reason for the block: they complained their autopilot had been MEL'd and it was hard to fly.

Blows my mind what kind of people we have in charge of airplanes. I feel kinda sorry for their passengers, too.
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The Raven
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Re: I was genuinely embarrassed for them

Post by The Raven »

lownslow wrote:Couldn't believe this. There I was on a gorgeous day up in the flight levels, not a cloud in sight, when a flight checks in with ATC not far from my position and requests a block of altitudes. Now, bear in mind that this airline checking in exclusively flies a type that's well known for its docile handling and with their present hiring policy I know both pilots will have their ATPLs. The reason for the block: they complained their autopilot had been MEL'd and it was hard to fly.

Blows my mind what kind of people we have in charge of airplanes. I feel kinda sorry for their passengers, too.
Ever had to hand fly at the upper flight levels? I have, and it's not easy. Very tiring as well. It's like trying to milk a mouse. We had to hand fly a 747 half way across the Atlantic at FL370. We drifted up and down +/- 300 feet. This was in the days before RVSM. There were 3 of us in the flight deck and we all took turns flying. We were exhausted by the time we reached London. If it happened to me again I would descend into denser air and request a block of airspace. Safer and smoother for the passengers.
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AuxBatOn
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Re: I was genuinely embarrassed for them

Post by AuxBatOn »

lownslow wrote: Blows my mind what kind of people we have in charge of airplanes. I feel kinda sorry for their passengers, too.
Flying Qualities normally degrade at higher altitudes, where the damping terms of the long and short period responses (longitudinal and lateral/directional axis) are reduced, which can make it fairly difficult to maintain a constant flight path (the main reason your airplane probably has a yaw damper off maximum altitude which is lower than the service ceiling).

What is worse for passengers? Constant small corrections but a relatively stable altitude or smooth correction over a long period with moderate altitude deviations?
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KAG
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Re: I was genuinely embarrassed for them

Post by KAG »

Cuts into your reading time. A block solves that. Keep it between the ditches.
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atphat
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Re: I was genuinely embarrassed for them

Post by atphat »

Probably makes it safer for other flights as well if they noticed they were deviating from their altitude. Sounds like good airmanship to me.
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Re: I was genuinely embarrassed for them

Post by Pratt X 3 »

Since you aren't supposed to fly in RVSM airspace without an automatic altitude-keeping device, this flight should have been at FL280 or below. If you have difficulties staying within 100 feet of your assigned altitude while hand flying at those altitudes, you really need to click off the autopilot more often and practice your actual flying ability. Partial pass if this was their 5th or greater leg that day or hour 3 of a 4 hour flight. Then they get an extra 50 feet. (And I've been there, done that. In a jet that handles like a dump truck got it on with a shopping cart with a wonky wheel. For 2-3 legs a day. An hour to three hour legs. For nearly 14 days straight. Uphill both ways. In snow up to my teets. Get off my lawn!)
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cgzro
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Re: I was genuinely embarrassed for them

Post by cgzro »

Seems to me if you are having trouble for whatever reason asking for a block is sensible and safe. If you are embarrassed to ask for any kind of help when a problem occurs you could turn an annoyance into something very dangerous rather quickly.
This is true irrespective of if you 'should' be able to handle it unaided or you should not have gotten yourself into some situation in the first place.
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ahramin
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Re: I was genuinely embarrassed for them

Post by ahramin »

We're so used to autopilots that keep it within 20' at FL410. Maybe the crew didn't realize that even in RVSM airspace you have to keep it +-300 feet. No need to request a block if you can't keep level as well as the autopilot. What do you mean by flight levels though? What flight level?
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Rockie
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Re: I was genuinely embarrassed for them

Post by Rockie »

If you watch the trim setting on a transport aircraft in cruise someday with the AP on that constant change in setting is people moving around in the back. Add to that high altitude handling characteristics and you have a twitchy handful that becomes very tiring much faster than your average Navajo at 8000 feet.

That crew sounded prudent to me.
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lownslow
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Re: I was genuinely embarrassed for them

Post by lownslow »

Prudent or not for this particular crew, it's not hard to keep a turboprop going in a straight line at FL240. At least, it shouldn't be hard.
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atphat
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Re: I was genuinely embarrassed for them

Post by atphat »

You're not getting the point
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Rockie
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Re: I was genuinely embarrassed for them

Post by Rockie »

Having never flown that airplane it's impossible for me to say if it's easy or not. I can say that operating at the top of an airplane's envelope is more challenging in manual flight especially with a constantly changing centre of gravity. Also design characteristics and operating SOP's centred around use of the autopilot could make manual flight more of a challenge than a simpler airplane. I'm reluctant to judge without knowledge of the airplane or this crew's actual circumstances. If they thought they needed a block for more space that's their call to make.
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PositiveRate27
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Re: I was genuinely embarrassed for them

Post by PositiveRate27 »

lownslow wrote:Prudent or not for this particular crew, it's not hard to keep a turboprop going in a straight line at FL240. At least, it shouldn't be hard.
If you're talking about any of the big 3 Q400 operators, I have to agree with you. Ive hand-bombed the Q @FL250 and it's not much different from any Beech product I ever flew. (Which I might add didn't even have an AP's) We aren't talking about a 777 at FL400. The only saving grace I'll give them is if the AP is MEL'd due to an INOP Yaw Damper. I can't say I have a lot of time with the Yaw Damper off in the FL's.

Either way, its best to ask for more protection if you feel you need it. Im sure asking for a block didnt inconvenience anyone.
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teacher
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Re: I was genuinely embarrassed for them

Post by teacher »

I find it funny that in one thread pilots will criticize each other for being Cowboys and not taking the safest option. In this thread a crew felt they needed to make this decision for either the comfort of their passengers or flight safety and you guessed it, beat on again by their fellow pilots.

We truly are our own worst enemy enemies :|
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pelmet
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Re: I was genuinely embarrassed for them

Post by pelmet »

I am not embarrassed for the crew at all. I think they made a very wise decision based on reality. That there is a significantly higher risk of an altitude deviation. It's all very nice to say, well just fly the aircraft but is there any harm in taking a precaution? No.

While most of the turboprops I flew had no autopilot it was also in uncontrolled airspace and although I can't remember any significant deviations, it is a pain in the butt to be maintaining altitude with a fat flight attendant walking back and forth repeatedly to serve the meals(that is on of the main reasons for preferring the skinny ones back then) not to mention pax going to the washroom.

Later on I got into the autopilot equipped turboprops. It reminds me of one flight we did with the autopilot broken that was a full six hour overnight flight. I was with chief pilot who had no interest in flying that leg and wanted to relax instead for much of the way. A lot of that flight was in controlled airspace and it was not an enjoyable experience for certain portions of a very long flight. A block of airspace would have been a good idea.
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complexintentions
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Re: I was genuinely embarrassed for them

Post by complexintentions »

The title of this thread pretty much guarantees the original poster is gonna eat a huge shit sandwich one day.

Seen it so many times. Guys slinging the mud end up wearing it eventually. No exceptions.
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JTrain
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Re: I was genuinely embarrassed for them

Post by JTrain »

complexintentions wrote:The title of this thread pretty much guarantees the original poster is gonna eat a huge shit sandwich one day.

Seen it so many times. Guys slinging the mud end up wearing it eventually. No exceptions.
+1
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PT6onH20
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Re: I was genuinely embarrassed for them

Post by PT6onH20 »

lownslow wrote:Couldn't believe this. There I was on a gorgeous day up in the flight levels, not a cloud in sight, when a flight checks in with ATC not far from my position and requests a block of altitudes. Now, bear in mind that this airline checking in exclusively flies a type that's well known for its docile handling and with their present hiring policy I know both pilots will have their ATPLs. The reason for the block: they complained their autopilot had been MEL'd and it was hard to fly.

Blows my mind what kind of people we have in charge of airplanes. I feel kinda sorry for their passengers, too.
That was me, btw. We had just under 6 hours hand flying that day. I thought it made life easier for me and my colleague. Probably helped the passengers stay asleep and may have kept one of the girls from spilling coffee on someone.

But then again, what do I know? I cant hold altitude :D
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NAT2
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Re: I was genuinely embarrassed for them

Post by NAT2 »

PT6onH20 wrote:
lownslow wrote:Couldn't believe this. There I was on a gorgeous day up in the flight levels, not a cloud in sight, when a flight checks in with ATC not far from my position and requests a block of altitudes. Now, bear in mind that this airline checking in exclusively flies a type that's well known for its docile handling and with their present hiring policy I know both pilots will have their ATPLs. The reason for the block: they complained their autopilot had been MEL'd and it was hard to fly.

Blows my mind what kind of people we have in charge of airplanes. I feel kinda sorry for their passengers, too.
That was me, btw. We had just under 6 hours hand flying that day. I thought it made life easier for me and my colleague. Probably helped the passengers stay asleep and may have kept one of the girls from spilling coffee on someone.

But then again, what do I know? I cant hold altitude :D
Glad you didn't take this too seriously. Sounds like the original poster is on their own.
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Re: I was genuinely embarrassed for them

Post by rigpiggy »

Pratt X 3 wrote:Since you aren't supposed to fly in RVSM airspace without an automatic altitude-keeping device, this flight should have been at FL280 or below.)
somebody should have told someone at air canada that
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