Home on autopilot

Home on autopilot

Is it difficult for an inexperienced passenger to land the plane?

Imagine. You are traveling on vacation to Sunny Cyprus or the film festival in new York. On the multimedia system screen in the passenger seat in front of you displayed a colorful map with the route and flight parameters. The altitude of 11 thousand meters, the speed of 890 km per hour. The engines whistle rhythmically, with the window down gently float fluffy clouds, and the top a deep blue and dazzling sun.

But then suddenly in the cabin runs lady flight attendant reports loud (although in reality this will never happen, because the manual prohibits), that all pilots (Yes, both!) fainted and not come to him.

A single pilot like you flying on holiday, the cabin is not. Lead and land the plane no one. And then you get up from a chair and gait of a true brave man coming to the door of the cockpit. Need to get inside, but how? The door is armored, its opening is controlled by the pilots. Here comes the flight attendant: on a small digital panel next to the door, she dials a secret code. But the door will not open because of the electronic door lock provides the delay: the pilots through the chamber must ensure that the flight attendant entered a code one and not under the supervision of terrorists (in this case, they block the castle until the end of the flight). After a delay the door opens.

Before you wind the window with the clouds and the bottomless blue, lots of buttons, Vernier, screens and screens pestering me, sticks and arms, the bodies of the pilots and two steering wheels (if you fly in a Boeing or Tupolev or two joysticks, if you are on a Airbus or SSJ). Most likely, when you enter the cabin, the aircraft will fly under the control of the autopilot (because the weather is clear and not obstructed). It is best to take a seat on the left. It’s commander, there is more possibilities to control the aircraft.

The first thing on the wheel or joystick you need to find the switch of the radio (just do not press the red button, and then disconnect the autopilot)

After the switch of the radio was found, put on his head a headset (headphones with microphone), click, found the switch and loudly and clearly say several times “Mayday” (distress call, it must respond Manager). If the switch on the steering wheel or the joystick is not found, then to the left of your seat sure found a walkie-talkie. Feel free to take it, turn it on, adjust for a frequency of 121.5 megahertz and shout “Mayday” in it. This frequency is tapped and rescue service, so that soon will connect you with a Manager or the duty pilot who will explain what to do next.

In fact, in this whole process the most important step is communication with the control tower. After the dispatcher will answer your call for help, he will ask to call your flight and tell you where to find this information (for example, on the wheel these numbers are on the “horn” on the left). And then the fun begins — under the guidance of Manager and duty pilot you will proceed directly to boarding the plane.

If you “flew” home on a computer simulator, you will be easier, but it still does not guarantee a successful landing

Depending on the type of aircraft, the actions you will be supporting the duty will vary, but the General scheme of planting is the same for all. For a start you will be prompted to ensure normal operation of the autopilot and the correctness of the flight parameters, which he adheres to. At some distance from the airport you will offer to translate the autopilot mode for the approach, and then will tell you what handles you need to set the speed, altitude, turn. In parallel, you will be prompted to configure the control plane to receive beacon signals of instrumental landing systems located at the airport. Its signal will go the plane during landing.

Then will come a time when the duty pilot will ask you to release flaps (handle in the center pane, with the words FLAP and several divisions) and chassis (big knob with arrows and labels UP and DOWN). After touching the runway, you will be ordered to turn on the reverse thrusters (the levers on the handlebars control the engine between the seats) and use the full mechanization of the wing, so that helped to drop the speed. Finally, you will be asked to use the brake (usually located at the top of the rudder pedals beneath your feet). All. You sat down, the plane stopped. You can faint or heroically to wipe the sweat from his forehead.

In fact, it was described perfect landing. You a very lucky man. After all, weather good, no wind, the aircraft is equipped with automatic landing system, and the host airport there is the instrumental landing system (a system of beacons, to enable aircraft to navigate to find the runway and even aligned at its center). Depending on the category of precision instrumental landing system allows to put the plane in automatic mode from the height from 790 up to 49 meters. But such systems has so far only major airports, and thus in a regional port, you will have to go to manual mode.

The fact that the on-Board automatic landing system on the aircraft without instrumental landing systems at the airport will not work; the aircraft simply “not see” where to sit, and all will end very sad.

And if you thought that landing in automatic mode is pressed the two buttons and wait until the plane will do all the work, you are sadly mistaken

The machine only has access to the rudders, altitude and engines. Include the flaps, spoilers, spoilers, flap, brake, chassis and other machinery will still have you.

If the arrival airport has no instrumental landing systems, or there blows a strong side wind, rain, or fog spreading, you will probably have to put the plane in a fully manual mode. And then your chances of success are reduced considerably. The duty pilot, of course, will tell to the last, where and what you need to pull, which pedal to push and what numbers to dial, but it is unlikely to help. The fact that the control of aircraft in bad weather conditions, the pilots are studying long and hard. In humans, “frost”, no chance.

And, Yes, bad news. If you have never specifically been interested in the device of the cockpit of the plane on which you fly, and automatic and manual planting is over for you the same disaster, which killed everyone on Board. A small chance at survival, of course, is always there, but it is negligible. In automatic landing mode at least you’ll have a few seconds searching for the right stick or buttons, and the computer will give you back up from a serious error. In manual mode planting time to look for the right buttons just will not, and delay is death.

So what would a modern plane you flew to get him without at least minimal preparation, you most likely will not. But there is good news: until landing (or falling) you really don’t even know what pilots do something happened. Flight attendants, most likely, you just don’t say it, because such information could cause a panic on Board, and this is a guaranteed death — panicking crowd control impossible. All actions on automatic or manual landing, the flight attendants will try to take themselves to a victorious or disastrous end.

In 2009, near Amsterdam in the Netherlands crashed passenger plane Boeing 737 of Turkish Airlines. In the crash, nine people were killed and another 120 were injured. The plane was landing under the control of a professional pilot in automatic mode, and the cause of the accident was incorrect radio altimeter data results. But do not panic: in the case where the aircraft is controlled by the pilot, the probability of a catastrophic landing in automatic mode is one to two billion.

And remember. Pilots in the cockpit are always two people: the commander of the aircraft and the second pilot. In the history of passenger aviation has not yet been a single case that has failed both pilots immediately

In November 2012 passenger Boeing 747 Lufthansa made an emergency landing at Dublin airport (the plane was flying from new York to Frankfurt) after the commander of the aircraft suffered a severe migraine attack.

To land the plane the second pilot helped one of the passengers, who happened to be a little experience flying turboprop aircraft.

In this case, when a passenger or flight attendant brought to the management plane as an assistant pilot in aviation history was only five or six. In all cases, the assistants had albeit small, but still some experience of control of an aircraft.

But progress does not stand still. At the end of last year, the Federal aviation administration of the USA has approved new rules for landing passenger aircraft, equipped with systems of blind landing. These planes can now land at airports that are closed to other aircraft due to poor visibility. The composition of these systems includes several directional sensors, including infrared cameras, equipment and exchange of technical information. When landing, the system displays in the cockpit combined image with directional sensors and instrumental data in real time.

The presence on Board of the aircraft systems “blind” and automatic landing (it is also development of a system for automatic steering on the airfield) in the next ten to twenty years will make flying really safe.

Given the development of automatic systems and the shortage of pilots, NASA is in the beginning of last year proposed to create at airports the position of “supercopter”, and the crew to cut twice, that is, leave in the cockpit for one pilot

Agency experts believe that to maintain the aircraft in normal conditions, maybe one pilot, especially since a large part of the flight is usually under the control of the autopilot.

“Superdispersed” the airport will be a virtual wingman. He will be in a special control room and maintain support of several flights. In the event of an emergency or loss of the captain of the aircraft he will take control. Remote control plane and data exchange will be done via the broadband communication channel in real time. Interestingly, in response to the proposal to NASA, some airlines have decided to go even further and announced that planes in General can be left without pilots.

The fact that the existing systems of control and navigation of modern aircraft is already accurate enough to trust the takeoff, flying and landing of aircraft automation. For example, some planes are already equipped with navigation hardware specifications RNP-1. This means that in automatic mode the liner with a probability of 0.95 for the duration of the flight will deviate from the axis of a given route no more than one nautical mile (1,852 kilometers). Knowing the high accuracy of navigation systems, the Israelis, for example, even expanded the area of interception systems and missile defense, close to the borders of the air corridors.

Major manufacturers of avionics equipment of the aircraft, including the French company Thales and the American Honeywell already lead the development of truly automated systems. Such systems will not depend on the instrumental systems of airports and can put planes at any appropriate runway. The equipment of these systems is to independently identify the runway, to assess ambient conditions and to maintain the aircraft. However, before integration of such systems in passenger liners still very, very far. After all, they still have to test, test for reliability, duplicate. And it takes years of research.

Vasily Sychev