Apr 1, 2008

A Day in the Life (32) Localizer Alive!

A description of a typical day's flight from Montreal to Vancouver and return - as a backdrop for a detailed, non-technical description of what an airline pilot does. (check left hand column for series index).

Log Entry 2003 - A320 Capt - Turning Final

Time: CYVR Arrival minus 0H05

“Goose Air One Eleven, are you good to intercept the ILS on that track?” Vancouver Arrival asks.

I glance over to F/O Paula who says what I’m thinking. “Sure, we can do it now, no problem.” I relay the message.

“Okay, bring your speed back further now to 180 until the FAF. Contact the tower now on 119.55, good-day.”

I repeat the restriction and frequency, tap the radio over to tower and make initial contact.

F/O Paula begins trading high speed drag for low speed drag as she slows further to 180 knots. She stick handles the airbus smoothly around the corner following the guide bars of the Flight Director. The ILS localizer signal is sliding into view as she calls for “Flaps 1.” I reach across the pedestal to move the flap lever, then watch the appropriate green annunciators appear. “Flaps 1. S speed.”

There is little deceleration available at this setting because the engines now shift to flight idle, spooling the engines just a little faster than before. This ensures a quick response if we suddenly need extra thrust in the high drag landing configuration.

So F/O Paula waits only until the airspeed is below the limit for the next flap increment, then calls for it: “Flaps 2.” I move the handle again and watch the indicators respond. When we’ve got the desired indications, I call my official response: “Flaps 2. F speed.”

While all this has been going on F/O Paula has been correcting the heading smoothly to capture the localizer. She’s doing a fine job of hand flying the Bus. Once pilots adjust to the electronic joystick, which takes all of about five minutes, they discover it’s an easy aircraft to fly. But using this "semi-automated" mode with the auto-pilot off and the flight directors on inflicts awkward workload distribution between the pilots. Something I'm sure Airbus never envisioned properly when they designed it. So, she calls for me to re-engage the autopilot. Now she’s free to push Otto’s buttons and rotate his dials as she desires, while I concentrate on the PNF duties.

The glideslope indicator has been teasing us for a long while, the indicator floating persistently just below our actual descent path. But now F/O Paula has managed to get us tucked under it. From here she can trigger the automation to lock on. She reaches across and smoothly stows the speed brakes as the airspeed is settling into the required 180 knots. Lovely.

Time: CYVR Arrival minus 0H03

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Finally, welcome back, we missed you!