Flight Directors

zipperc130

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Hi everybody, I am a CFI and a friend and I are having a disagreement. She feels that the Flight Director should be used to the maximum extent possible even when the autopilot is off. I personally like exercise my aviation skills and not rely on the autopilot to tell me how to fly. The point has been raised that the airlines expect you to fly with the flight director and is on the verge of an "emergency" when it fails. Just wondering if anyone out there had any opinions especially people familiar with airlines. If that is what is expected/demanded I suppose I will need to adjust. If not I will continue to aviate as oppose to being the servos for the autopilot. Thanks Mike
 

SDdriver

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I fly a transport size cargo aircraft and I use the flight director (if it is a good one :) every chance I can, I figure you have proven your skills by this point, it is a job where things must get there, if you have it use it. Anyway, I get plenty of chances not to use it cause the particular plane I might be flying that day may not have one in it worth a darn and in that case I won;t use it. DO what you feel comfortable doing. Me, I feel comfortable lowering my stress factor as much as possible so I say if ya got it use it.

Tailwinds.
 

FlyinBrian

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Flight directors are a luxury item. True, the airlines will expect you to know how to fly with it on, but the airline I was employed by for a short time actually encouraged you to fly without the FD/Autopilot from time to time to reduce your automation dependancy. Prior to working for the airlines, I definitely would leave it off most of the time. I doubt that you'll be able to use it in any sim evaluation that you do at an interview, and if you can fly without it, you can certainly fly with it. An FD failure is not a "near emergency" That's ridiculous.
 

generaltso

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Depends on the plane. In a seminole I would not use the FD the whole time because it is often going to provide bad information. But in any Boeing or Airbus, it should always be on. I've rarely seen airline pilots shut it off. The only time it can get you in trouble is if you do not have the modes set correctly for what you want to do.

Don't not use it for hope and glory, man. Use everything to your advantage. It is expected/demanded to use it in an airline environment. If you shut it off in your training, your instructor will no doubt question why.
 

Andy Neill

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I equate it to using electronic glideslope information when I am doing a visual with a PAPI adjacent. I don't need it necessarily, but it provides one more bit of information. If I want to turn right and the F/D is turning left, I ask myself, "What's wrong with this picture?".
 

Vrefus

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Any way you want to fly your airplane should be fine. If you want to fly it raw data go ahead but if you're gonna have the FD fired up, use it. One of my pet peeves is watching someone have the FD up but not following the V bars. The V bars could be up at 2 o'clock or so and they're flying opposite to them. Again, that drives me nuts, if you're gonna do that, go ahead and stow the FD. My opinion and not necessarily the opinion of the management. *LOL*
 

AK737FO

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What's a FD?

Flight directors are a neat thing with a good auto pilot, and a pain in the back side with an old auto pilot.

I think you will find that 99% of the airline pilots in the world - who are flying modern equipment (partial or full glass) will use the FD most of the time. Sure they might turn it off from time to time to knock off the rust, but most of the time it is on. I've even had grumpy captains tell me that I HAD to have it on all the time. I don't think you will find many "glass" pilots who are very comfortable without it. It gives you awesome guidance, so why not use it?

Now a FD in an old autopilot (like the SP-77 in the 737-200) is not worth using. To much work...

Generally speaking, I always use the FD for a CAT II approach (since it is required), and I occasionally use it for a CAT I. I never use it for Take off. I turn it on sometimes in cruise, just so I have something pretty to look at. I never use it in descent. I never use it for non-precision approaches.
 

de727ups

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Huh?
FD

I fly a 727 with EFIS displays. I only turn the FD on if I'm doing an ILS to weather less than 500 and 1, or so. I'll occasionally turn it on when on vectors for an approach if I'm tired. Normally, I feel my scan is better if I don't use the FD all the time....many times I log less than 15 hours a month and only half of that is my leg. Basically, I guess I just enjoy the challenge of doing a good job of hand flying without the FD. The autopilot is on above 10K though. In the sim...I keep the FD on all the time. Partly cause some of the instructors like to see it on and partly cause the sim tends to diverge from straight and level much easier than the real aircraft.
 

Batman

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Is the glass half full or half empty???

Use the FD bars at your leisure--I think you will find that many airline operation manuals will tell you to leave the bars on all the time. Even so, I periodically turn the bars off to make sure I am not getting rusty. If you have a good scan, it really does not matter. If your scan is on the weak side, leave the bars off until your scan improves. You have plenty of years ahead of you to fly with them on.

On a side note, I find myself using the bars as a guidence and will sometimes use slightly less bank, pitch, or both. However, it is highly recommended to leave the bars off if you are going to totally disregard them (as was stated above).

Just remember, if the bars do something you do not like, switch them off and fly the plane.
 

wingnutt

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how about us freight guys...does it count if the FD is used to *ahem* "alert the senses" upon arrival to intended destination :D

other than that, as a workload reliever in solid, single-pilot IFR, its a great tool...
 
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Tri-holer

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I've got to agree with de727ups for the most part. I liked hand flying the airplane and rarely brought up the FD. I did bring it up for actual ILS approaches and that was about it. Occasionally, with a compliant captain, I would shoot an approach down low (4-500') with the FD down - his was up. The way I figured it, anybody could fly the approach with the FD, but if it broke or gave me bad data, I wanted to be sure I could do it without coaching.

Only difference with de727ups is I would hand fly up to altitude and back down to the ground. I figured I wanted to fly, not watch the autopilot fly and when I got a job flying passengers (not uncomplaining boxes), the company would probably make me use the autopilot. My last captain thought I was afraid of the autopilot - I'm not, I'm just a Luddite. Guess now that I do have that job flying pax, I will have to be a reformed Luddite.
 

328dude

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I personally prefer the V bar. I find it a little bit easier to follow. I used to fly raw data more often when I got hired, but got lazy and just leave it on now. I also find it funny that the "STBY" button on our panel for the FD is the cleanest of the bunch. LOL Hardly any dirt or finger grime to wipe off. Oh well, just leaves me more time to look for porn.
 

Orvilleflyer

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Lately I have been flying with FO's who like doing takeoff's without the FD on... When it's severe clear and a million. A little unnerving to me because of how much engine failure training you get in the sim and never once do you practice a V1 cut without the FD on.. At least at my airline. As far as in cruise, go ahead, turn the thing off once in a while- It's good for ya. I had one week (in three years at the company) with 3 airplanes I flew that had the AP/FD deferred- One of which was going into SLC during the Olympics- Not a time to screw up. Nevertheless we did fine having not flown raw data in a long time. The point is, if it's there, use it. Just once in a while hand fly without it. The job of the FD is to take the input from 4-6 instruments and turn that into one thing to look at, thereby making your job easier... And intern, making it safer for the passengers- The number one priority.
 

tarp

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Three things to consider:

I for one fly in an airplane with the world's stupidist flight director. It can't find a pitch without oscillating up and down and can't intercept a localizer at greater than a 20 degree angle without flying through and oscillating right and left until it finds the groove. Do you think I trust it's little pink arrow?

When you do stalls in the Sim, it's raw data.

To get your captain's bars at our airline you have to do a precision and non-precision approach in raw data.

So - learn to fly with it and without it. To tell you the truth, the hardest thing to do is to fly "through the flight director" when it is telling you to do one thing and you see that its wrong. But to do that, you need to understand all the raw data on the sides.
 

FlyinBrian

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I would never have the bars on without being tucked up inside them. If you're not going to follow them, get rid of them! They will only confuse you. Figure out where you screwed up, get it in the right mode, and then turn them back on if you want to.

Our manual required you to follow the FD if it was on. I think that this is a good policy.
 

DC9stick

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On our DC9's, antique steam powered, (FD109) FD use is pretty much Capt. discretion.
The MD-80 on the other hand is a highly automated aircraft with two autopilots and FD use is mandatory during all phases of flight.
All training is also done with the FD engaged.
 
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