Another Boeing Issue...Surprisingly, it's NOT the 787

Discussion in 'General Discussion | Travel' started by gregm, Mar 3, 2014.  |  Print Topic

  1. gregm

    gregm Gold Member

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    I'm a HUGE fan of Boeing's commercial jets and have been since I was a kid. (That would be around 707 era.) ,It seems lately they can't catch a break. Does make me wonder: what does it take for a recommendation to become a mandate? Let's see who will pay for this one.

    U.S. aviation regulator seeks auto-throttle fix for Boeing 737s
    U.S. aviation regulators on Monday proposed a fix for some Boeing 737 planes to ensure that a faulty altimeter does not cause the automatic throttle system to unexpectedly cut engine speed.

    read the rest.... http://finance.yahoo.com/news/u-avi...to-throttle-fix-boeing-210840629--sector.html






     
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  2. blackjack-21

    blackjack-21 Gold Member

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    Are we getting too dependent on the fly by wire mode? Whatever happened to the flight crew actually flying the aircraft from point to point, including of course the landings? Yes, fix those altimeters, but keep your hand on the throttles too, as automation still isn't always 100% accurate or reliable, as seen above. The ultimate computer is still the human brain, and giving up the job of thinking and reacting quickly solely and completely to automation is now showing itself to be a mistake.

    I too prefer Boeing aircraft. You know, the one's with the steering wheels instead of yokes on one side. My first jet flights were also on B707's, B727's and Convair 720's (820's ?), after many on DC6's and -7's, with the ocassional Lockheed Constellations thrown in for good measure.
     
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  3. gregm

    gregm Gold Member

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    I couldn't agree more, but the industry professionals will argue automation is the key to fuel management and fuel = $$$.
     
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  4. blackjack-21

    blackjack-21 Gold Member

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    Fuel management can also be accomplished with the use of the aircraft's gauges and adjustments to speed/throttle/flap settings, and using a simple hand held computer to figure it out, if needed, rather then giving up total control of the aircraft to an automated system which may or may not be properly set or its operation not completely understood, as seems to have happened at SFO. Another incident I can remember is the crash of an AA B757 into a mountain in South America a few years ago, when the crew programmed an incorrect airport letter into their computer, which caused the plane to make a sharp turn in the wrong direction, and the error not discovered until it was too late.
     
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  5. gregm

    gregm Gold Member

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    But just to be fair, there are documented cases where pilots flew their planes directly into the ground, mountain or ocean!!
     
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  6. blackjack-21

    blackjack-21 Gold Member

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    Of course, and in some of those cases they had disregarded their instruments telling them of the approaching dangers, such as stick shakers warning of an impending stall, or ground proximity alerts being sounded and not being responded to quickly enough. In the case of the AIr France flight that plunged into the ocean off the east coast of Brazil, didn't they get so many alerts and warnings all at once, that they slowed the aircraft down in the storm instead of keeping the power up, resulting in a stall that they couldn't recover from. Faulty pitot tube may have caused that one.
     
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  7. timfrost

    timfrost Silver Member

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    I think it's important to remember that we don't know (nor will anyone ever) how many incidents and accidents are averted with the use of these systems. If you had a close call, would you report it? Computers are only as smart as the people who program them and operate them.

    Are we getting too dependent on automation? Probably, to an extent. But on the other hand NOT having to fly the plane by hand for hours on end could also mean the pilots are more mentally alert at the end of their trip. As we have seen time and time again, fatigue is the biggest enemy out there. If you're tired and program the computer to do the wrong thing, you may well make the same mistake if you did it by hand.

    In 2006 I became a locomotive engineer for Amtrak (it was much later I went to foodservice) and I worked the Caltrain route from San Francisco to San Jose. By the end of a weekend day trip and making 100 stops in 200 miles of track (two trips each direction making all the stops) I was mentally exhausted. Try spending 10 solid hours calculating speeds, stopping distances, brake pressures, rail adhesion, and grades while at the same time ensuring I wouldn't knock anyone over in the coaches. Then add in things like morons running in front of the train and you have a long day for your brain. If I was going to make a mistake or pull the train too long at a station or forget something, it was always on that last leg of my trip.

    Although I am not a pilot I can't imagine the mental calculations that would be constantly required are any easier, so the autopilot is probably a godsend in that regard. I would think being able to take a break, even if it's for only a short time, and letting a computer do your job, would let your mind slightly relax and you can attack the next task with a fresher start. However, that could equally lead to complacency, and I am sure it does.

    No real easy answers out there in my eyes. Eventually whatever system is in use, be it human or machine, is going to break down.
     
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  8. blackjack-21

    blackjack-21 Gold Member

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    Please understand that I'm not suggesting doing away with automation, as it's definately needed to make flying safer and less stressful for both the crews and pax. And compared to flying years ago by the seat of your pants, it's a gigantic improvement. But more and more, it seems that the flightdeck is relying on the wires and gizmos to actually fly the aircraft instead of them making the needed decisions and responses to accomplish the flight. Sure, long, boring, many hours flights over water can be boring and tiring and stressful, and that's when auto pilots and other automation takes the strain out of long distance flying, but even they have to be monitored and corrected at times, with course and speed changes and corrections, and other settings, so a human still has to make the final decisions. What I'm implying though, is that of late it seems that actual piloting as we knew it has given way to someone who's just there to read the readouts and push some buttons or turn the knobs to control the aircraft instead of actually FLYING it by using their flight skills that they should have learned when beginning their careers and beyond. And as the cockpit (oops, flightdeck) becomes more and more crammed with switches, knobs, buttons, handles, fuses, gauges, circuit breakers, and other assorted gizmos on the panels, control wheels, ceilings, floors, in front of, over, under, and behind the flight crews, that even a stewardess (oops, FA) can't even get into the area to bring the pilots a cup of coffee to keep them awake, maybe it's time to give way to more flying skills to fly the plane, instead of just being there and staying awake to press the needed buttons to fly the plane on its own, from takoffs to landings, of which there should be one of each for a successful flight.

    Yes, I'm oversimplifying, but that's my 1 9/16 cents worth as I try to land my FlightSIM 98.
     
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  9. blackjack-21

    blackjack-21 Gold Member

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    While this thread is not about the B787, today Airwise News is reporting that Boeing has discovered small cracks in the wings of some B787's on their production lines, but they don't think they're in the wings of that type already flying. More problems for Boeing's newest model.
    Link is here: http://news.airwise.com/story/view/1394241052.html
     
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  10. gaijin62

    gaijin62 Gold Member

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    Japan's NHK is reporting that 787 wings made by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries may have cracks since the company has switched to a new technique for making them.
    http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20140308_18.html
     
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  11. Desidivo

    Desidivo Silver Member

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    This is another situation in which we have to find a happy medium. Pilots can and have made mistakes. While I don’t equate my driving a car to flying a plane, there are many times, that I don’t remember the road or what I did when driving. I operate almost on autopilot on my commute. I am sure pilots have done similar things.

    Automation also has its positive and negative points. And like others have said, it is only as good as the team writing and testing the code. The computers should be left to do what they do best and let pilots do what they do best. Take the mundane stuff out of piloting so they can concentrate on more important things.
     
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  12. blackjack-21

    blackjack-21 Gold Member

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    I believe it's called "Pilotage" as in really actually flying the aircraft, as opposed to letting instruments do the job, and taking more and more responsibilities away from the crew.
     
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