End of the road for the 747.

SW18

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For those getting misty-eyed about retirement of historic planes, here a nice one that is still in regular scheduled service: Douglas DC3

I guess the Dakota is relatively easy to keep in service, being of a simpler pre-war design. Unlike aging jet aircraft that eventually become too complex to keep in flying order (see Avro Vulcan).
 

st13phil

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I reckon this will just lead to pilots being less involved with normal flying but still there for when they are needed.
Which all flies in the face (no pun intended) of the wisdom generated over many years that automation monitoring humans completing a task generally has a better outcome when the wheel comes off than humans monitoring automation.
That said, there is already a risk that planes with complex autopilot systems lead to pilots who cannot recognise what's happening when it all goes wrong. AF447 makes for a fascinating case study. Air France Flight 447 - Wikipedia
A prime example of humans failing to correctly identify the problem when automation has failed, and therefore also failing to take appropriate action.

As an aside, Air France is one legacy "flag carrier" airline I will never fly with due to their less-than-stellar performance when it comes to safety matters - both maintenance and in the air.
 

markjay

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Despite self-driving capability being around for 30 years, they don't even run trains without a backup driver on board, so I can't see it happening for planes. I reckon this will just lead to pilots being less involved with normal flying but still there for when they are needed.

That said, there is already a risk that planes with complex autopilot systems lead to pilots who cannot recognise what's happening when it all goes wrong. AF447 makes for a fascinating case study. Air France Flight 447 - Wikipedia
I seem to member that Boeing were looking a solution where the plane that has autonomous capabilities and a single pilot on board, with a backup pilot sitting in a control centre on the ground. The idea being that one backup pilot could manage several planes, cutting wages costs.
 

markjay

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For those getting misty-eyed about retirement of historic planes, here a nice one that is still in regular scheduled service: Douglas DC3

I guess the Dakota is relatively easy to keep in service, being of a simpler pre-war design. Unlike aging jet aircraft that eventually become too complex to keep in flying order (see Avro Vulcan).
I flew in a DC-3 in 1982. It felt like a ride in an old school bus..... but it got me to my destination alright :thumb:
 

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That said, there is already a risk that planes with complex autopilot systems lead to pilots who cannot recognise what's happening when it all goes wrong. AF447 makes for a fascinating case study. Air France Flight 447 - Wikipedia
Another recent example was Atlas Air Flight 3591 last year - a disorientated copilot over-rode the autopilot on a completely serviceable Boeing 767, putting it into a non-recoverable dive. Didn't get an awful lot of media attention as it was a cargo flight, so only 3 souls on board.

 

SW18

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Another recent example was Atlas Air Flight 3591 last year - a disorientated copilot over-rode the autopilot on a completely serviceable Boeing 767, putting it into a non-recoverable dive. Didn't get an awful lot of media attention as it was a cargo flight, so only 3 souls on board.

Wow, that's scary, had not heard of that one. I wonder why the (very experienced) captain did not manage the situation.
 

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Wow, that's scary, had not heard of that one. I wonder why the (very experienced) captain did not manage the situation.
He was indeed criticised for that (failure to monitor/intervene). Basically he had a 20 second window where he could have saved the aircraft but didn't - after that it was unfortunately too late. The copilot also had a poor record at several airlines (failed check rides etc.) which was never picked up or acted upon, so some learning points for the industry there. More details here:

 

SW18

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He was indeed criticised for that (failure to monitor/intervene). Basically he had a 20 second window where he could have saved the aircraft but didn't - after that it was unfortunately too late. The copilot also had a poor record at several airlines (failed check rides etc.) which was never picked up or acted upon, so some learning points for the industry there. More details here:

Still, at least he wasn't sleeping off a hangover down the back of the plane, like the AF447 captain...
 

markjay

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Another recent example was Atlas Air Flight 3591 last year - a disorientated copilot over-rode the autopilot on a completely serviceable Boeing 767, putting it into a non-recoverable dive. Didn't get an awful lot of media attention as it was a cargo flight, so only 3 souls on board.

This flight would have also been safe and sound if humans did not (inadvertently) intervene with the autopilot....:

 

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This flight would have also been safe and sound if humans did not (inadvertently) intervene with the autopilot....:

I remember that one well.

Don't know if you've been following the recent PIA A320 crash in Karachi, but it seems the (ex-military) crew ignored standard procedure pretty much throughout the flight and ultimately attempted to land from a too high/fast approach by diving the aircraft at over 7,000 fpm :eek: to within 2,000 ft agl. The preliminary report is here:


One side-effect of this has been EASA suspending the airline's authorisation to operate in Europe for 6 months after it emerged that a large number of their pilots didn't have valid licences:

 

markjay

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More like a cul-de-sac, IMO.

However good the automation, I don't think there are many people who would get on a commercial flight with no flight-qualified crew in the cockpit. I know I'd rather trust someone with their own life on the line to get me back on the ground safely when something unanticipated goes wrong rather than rely upon someone having anticipated the situation and coded for it perhaps many years beforehand.

As the old saying goes, by their nature, pilots come from a long line of survivors ;)
You will note that it was a pilotless flight, but the cockpit is still there. I am guessing they are testing autonomous capabilities but not necessarily with view to actually launch commercial pilotless planes any time soon, but as part of a future solution.

With regards the psychological element... that should not be a problem if these technologies are implemented (and tested) on freight flights first.
 

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With regards the psychological element... that should not be a problem if these technologies are implemented (and tested) on freight flights first.
Logic vs. Perception.

Many people are uncomfortable about travelling on driverless shuttle trains, and they have the advantage that they can default to stopping as a failsafe. Without further specialist intervention, aircraft tend to fall out of the sky if something unexpectedly stops working.

Regarding the absolute provable reliability of safety-critical automation, people may remember that the Eurotunnel train services had a long-delayed start once the physical infrastructure was completed. What most people don't realise is that the primary reason for the delay was that the safety certification protocols required that every possible path through the control software be proven to have been tested. After many months delay, during which significant effort was devoted to achieving that task, it proved not just impossible to complete but also that there was no prospect that it could ever be completed. The trains went into service only after that testing requirement was quietly dropped and thus the safety certificate could be granted.
 

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For those getting misty-eyed about retirement of historic planes, here a nice one that is still in regular scheduled service: Douglas DC3

I guess the Dakota is relatively easy to keep in service, being of a simpler pre-war design. Unlike aging jet aircraft that eventually become too complex to keep in flying order (see Avro Vulcan).
IIRC Buffalo Airways has several. The owner is a big fan of old piston powered aircraft.

 

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I'm going (further) OT now, but here's another plane that seems to refuse to die: How B-52 Bombers Will Fly Until the 2050s

Several tries at replacing it have been and gone and it soldiers on, with a late-life refurb now on the cards for most of the fleet in the next few years. What other machine might still be in active service 90 years after being built?
 

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Air Atlantique in the UK operated DC-3s and DC-6s until relatively recently.

There are a few older aeroplanes in regular commercial use ... AFAIK Lufthansa still operates a JU-52, and I think a Ford Trimotor or two are still active in the US. In the UK Scillonia Airways flies a DH89, which I took my son for a flight in a couple of years ago.

Capture.JPG

 

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Air Atlantique in the UK operated DC-3s and DC-6s until relatively recently.

There are a few older aeroplanes in regular commercial use ... AFAIK Lufthansa still operates a JU-52, and I think a Ford Trimotor or two are still active in the US. In the UK Scillonia Airways flies a DH89, which I took my son for a flight in a couple of years ago.


I had a flight in a JU52. South African Airways used to operate one.
Picture from about 30 tears ago. Boy in the red jacket is my son. I'm not in the picture as I took it. It was mother's day and my dad, my stepdad, my friend & his kids & myself went off for the flight. Wives were not impressed.
Going for a Junker flight-1-1.JPG
 

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Wives were not impressed.
I didn't tell Mrs BTB about the DH.89 flight till we got home. My own first flight had been in a DH.89 at Lands End aerodrome - a pair operated there from 1965 to 1969. I later found out that the aircraft I flew in with my son was one of them, so there was a 50% chance it was exactly the same aircraft I'd gone up in 50 years before!

There was a company in Switzerland operating JU-52s commercially until last year. One was involved in a fatal crash in 2018 (still unexplained, AFAIK), and the authorities eventually grounded the other two when the investigators found wing spar cracks and corrosion in the wreckage (although these hadn't caused the crash). All three aircraft were similar in terms of age and flying hours. I saw six JU-52s together at an airshow in Germany in 2009, which was pretty impressive (even though it was belting down with rain at the time!).

IMG_2632.jpg

IMG_2652.jpg

IMG_2624.jpg
 

Rorywquin

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I didn't tell Mrs BTB about the DH.89 flight till we got home. My own first flight had been in a DH.89 at Lands End aerodrome - a pair operated there from 1965 to 1969. I later found out that the aircraft I flew in with my son was one of them, so there was a 50% chance it was exactly the same aircraft I'd gone up in 50 years before!

There was a company in Switzerland operating JU-52s commercially until last year. One was involved in a fatal crash in 2018 (still unexplained, AFAIK), and the authorities eventually grounded the other two when the investigators found wing spar cracks and corrosion in the wreckage (although these hadn't caused the crash). All three aircraft were similar in terms of age and flying hours. I saw six JU-52s together at an airshow in Germany in 2009, which was pretty impressive (even though it was belting down with rain at the time!).

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Nice pictures & very iconic planes. Ours had windows that could be opened during flight and the hostess sat in the toilet during takeoff and landing.
 

markjay

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..I think a Ford Trimotor or two are still active in the US...
Funny, that, I was just watching this clip (probably filmed in the eighties?), and the Ford Trimotor is surprisingly mentioned (at 5:40):

 

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