Friday, 18 March 2011

Need to know

Popular Science asks, can a layman* land a passenger jet?

Meanwhile, James May actually supplies an answer.

*They say "layperson", whatever the blazes that is!


Sergej said...


jayessell said...

With help over the radio, the Mythbusters managed
to land in a simulator.

Can you loop a 747?

Cambias said...

Land, yes.

Survive? mmmaybe.

Wunderbear said...

Jayessell: you can't loop a 747 (the wings would almost certainly be torn off), but interestingly enough I do remember reading that the 747 could theoretically fly upside down.

Also, I believe that 'layperson' is the gender-neutral term for 'layman', Dave. You don't have to use it if you don't like it.

David said...

It is only gender neutral if it is used the same as "child": "The layperson, it landed the plane". Otherwise, it is newspeak.

Ironmistress said...

It is more difficult to land a glider than to land a 747.

With a glider, you never get a second chance - it all must succeed on the first try.

jayessell said...

From: Capt. Doug

Newsgroups: rec.aviation.piloting

Well... It's that time of the year again. It's time for my annual proficiency check. Last year I almost crashed. This year was no different.

My helper pilot and I ran through the routines while a check-airman sat in the jumpseat observing us. We cured hot starts and hung starts. We didn't forget to disconnect the ground power before pushback this time (Doh!!). We successfully handled a highspeed rejected take-off. We did a low visibility take-off (RVR of 500/500/500). Of course one of the engines caught fire and failed right at rotation. We came back around for the ILS but had to execute a single-engine missed approach and enter a holding pattern when the airport didn't show up at decision altitude . The controller promised that the weather had improved as we were holding but that only the NDB approach was working because of power outages at the ATC facilities (the NDB is off the field). I'm pretty good at NDB approaches because that's all I had in the old days. We popped out of the clouds exactly on the extended runway centerline and had a greaser landing.

After the engine was fixed, we took-off again. We encountered windshear at 400'AGL. I pulled the nose up to stick-shaker. The power was already set. We don't use firewall thrust anymore to recover unless death is imminent. We got through the windshear just fine. Then the check-airman told us that there was a simulated medical emergency in the cabin. We declared a simulated emergency and asked for vectors to the airport. ATC told us to expect an ILS. Abeam the airport on downwind, I called for slats and flaps to start slowing down for the appraoch. The slat/ flap handle was jammed. It figures- everything goes wrong on checkrides! My helper pilot read through the procedure as called for in the handbook. Our weight gave us a ref speed of 190 knots. Max tire speed is 195. The wind was a direct crosswind. The runway was longer than required. My helper turned off the Ground Proximity Warning System because doing 190 knots on the ILS can give a sink rate of over 1000 ft/min, which normally sets off the GPWS which then requires a go-around. It all worked out and I had another greaser landing! After a touch and go, we climbed up to 10,000'. At 10,000', I started the airwork with steep turns. At 250 knots, a slight drop of the nose will have you exceeding ATP practical test standards real quick. Then I did the stall series. All that remained of the required manuevers for the checkride was to land. Everything was going good. Then the check-airman asked if I had ever rolled the airplane.

"S**t", I replied. "Watch this ya'll!" It was the prettiest roll you've ever seen. I lost 40', which isn't bad when you consider that the plane is 147' long. The check-airman was smiling. His coffee didn't spill. He was impressed. My helper pilot was pale white. Too bad- he was a pretty good helper pilot. He looked rather disgruntled now. Guess I'm going on another helper pilot's no-fly list. So what? Screw him! Then the check-airman asked if I had ever looped the airplane.

Well, I hadn't, but if he'd talk me through it, I'd give it a try. There was a strange odor coming from the area of the helper pilot. He kept his mouth shut. He may have been in shock but I didn't care as long as he kept his mouth shut. Then I said, "Watch this ya'll!"

jayessell said...

I pushed the power up to within a knot of redline. I pulled back gently to the aft stop of the yoke. The nose went up and up. I had never seen that much blue on the artificial horizon before. Also, I had never seen the airspeed bleed off so fast. I expressed concern but the check-airman said it would work. As the nose went 5 degrees past vertical, the airspeed bled down to 60 knots. The strange odor was coming from my seat now. I pulled the yoke as hard as I could. I firewalled the engines. Being seriously concerned for our safety, I gave the obligatory 'Oh S**t' for the CVR. Those must have been the majic words because the nose fell through the horizon and the plane did a half snap-roll to end up right-side up. Then I became acutely aware that I was about to die.

The plane was right side up, but the nose was pointing 80 degrees down. I pulled the power back to idle. I pulled the speed brake lever all the way out. I pulled on the yoke as much as I dared. The airspeed still blew through redline. The overspeed warning went off. I pulled back on the yoke as hard as I dared. I had to raise the nose to slow down, but I didn't want to rip the wings off either. Transport category is only good for 2.5 Gs. My mind was working furiously to save my butt. I even remembered to extend the landing lights for more drag. The VSI was still pegged at 6000' fpm, but it looked like we might just recover. I started to smile.

Then the nose started dropping again. Pulling back on the yoke didn't do anything, except set off the stick-shaker which indicates a stall, a stall at 100 knots over red-line. I'd put a little back-pressure on the yoke and the stick-shaker would shake. I'd release some back-pressure and the shaker would stop. After 4 tries, my smile went away. My adrenelin soaked brain realized that death was imminent. We had encountered mach tuck. The stick-shaker told me that we were in the coffin corner. We were along for the ride at that point, a short ride. I wasn't smiling. With nothing left to lose, I dropped the landing gear. It made quite a lot of noise.

It sounded like the gear doors were now missing, but that was alright because the airspeed was slowing down, The nose was starting to come up. I was smiling again. We leveled off at 4000'. It feels good to know you are going to survive. I saw the airport and asked for landing clearance. It wasn't quite a greaser, but it felt better than most. Then the right main gear collapsed. We lurched to the right and skidded to a stop at an obscene bank angle. I ordered an emergency evacuation and ran the checklist.

Outside, the check-airman congratulated me. I had lived, and I had passed my check-ride. We smoked 3 engines and destroyed a multi-million dollar airplane, and I still passed my check-ride. What a great job! D.

Ironmistress said...

Let's say I passed my small plane check, but I am very much a laywoman on what comes to 747.

Perhaps we should use the Latin word "laicus", as the verb "lay", when used of the fairer sex, has certain nasty connotations.