Technical question


Ok… im not a fan of advanced airliners that have FBW technology (mainly because i want to be a pilot to actually fly the aircraft 100% manually), yes ill have to get used to the fact in the future all airlines shall have it :frowning: BUT…why on the B777 do the autothrottles have to be remained engaged for manual landings and the power control has to be automatic? isnt this just showing that gradually pilots are being rubbed out of the equation? Answers to these questions will be gratefully recieved


For years now, engine management has been controlled electronically. The throttles on most modern jet aircraft have no mechanical linkage, but send electronic signals to a computer that adjust turbine speed and fuel flow. Auto throttles is a separate system that places the throttles in the appropriate position for a certain segment of flight generally auto throttles can be activated and deactivated. I’m not sure how the 777 system works.

Fly by wire (FBW) generally refers to the connection of the pilot’s input to the aircraft control surfaces. On most smaller general aviation aircraft, the yoke (or stick) is connected directly to the control surface via a cable or rod. In large commercial aircraft more force is need to move the control surfaces than is available from a pilot and cables. Hydraulic systems have been the answer for large jets. Pre FBW systems connect the yoke to valves directly in the hydraulic system. The only difference with FBW is the yoke is connected to an electric motor with controls the hydraulic system.

FBW has many advantages including much less hydraulic lines reducing weight and system failure. Computer monitor to more efficiently set pitch and power to reduce fuel burn. All result in less pilot workload.

If you ask me, the pilot has never actually flown “100% manually”. Sorry to be so long winded.


In addition to what magnetoz says, it’s also a fuel efficiency measure.

The computer can control the engines with a precision that no human could match. Even if it only makes a very small difference, over the size of a fleet and life of the airplane, it can make a noticeable difference.


Just a reminder to all: When you give a subject, please be more specific than something like “technical question.” When I saw the subject, I thought it was a technical question on FlightAware.

A good subject for this particular topic could have been “B777 autothrottle question.”


Thanks to the replies, its just this question has been annoying me since i read it in a one of my aviation books, i know pilots have never flown 100% manually, what i meant by is that 2 other of my friends both agree that we want to be pilots as to fly the plane manually with no other computer inputs, say with flying a manual approach in a 767, if power changes is needed or flaps is slected the pilot has to manually change the stab trim, whereas on Airbus aircraft from A318 upwards no input is required, yeah sure it reduces workload but its just a factor that me and my friends and many other pilots who ive spoke to agree with, although many others may disagree, its just a matter of opinion, thanks to all though


You are not alone, this has been hotly debated for years now. Pilot In Command becomes pilot partly in command when a system automatically overrides a command input. If you think about it, this trend line has continued for many years now. Remember when there was a flight engineer on a plane? Most of those functions have been taken over by automation. If you follow this to its logical conclusion, you have the current generation of UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) with no pilot or crew aboard.


No doubt the Pilot’s job has evolved from active role to a monitoring role. I cannot imagine in the near future that modern airlines will no longer require the need for human pilots. I don’t think the general population would be comfortable with that.

I’d suggest to the aspiring airline pilots who want to fly manually to buy a 172 and be a weekend warrior. I’d also suggest spending several hours single pilot IFR with no autopilot and then see how you feel about automation.


The L-1011, during testing, actually only needed a pilot in order to taxi to the end of the runway at the start of the flight and taxi from the runway at the end of the flight. In between, the pilot just sat there.

It’s okay as long as there is not change in the flight plan. Pilots will always be needed in order to make enroute changes to the flight demanded by ATC.


Actually with increasing technology like ADS-B and datalink services, ATC instructions are moving toward a digital format displayed directly on a monitor in the cockpit. These instructions could very easily be interpreted by a computer. The FAA has already implemented an air to ground datalink issuing about 350,000 pre-departure clearances a month. It won’t take long to move to enroute clearances.

Pretty soon, the entire airspace system will be one giant wireless network, working seamlessly :open_mouth:


Its not the fact that autopilot is around, i know if i do become a pilot i would have to engage the auto pilot at some point, as to say do the landing briefing, i just dont like the fact of a hidden part of the auto pilot on the airbus aircraft, with automatic changes, also another factor is the side stick on airbus, how do other people feel about that? me and my friends agree it wont feel the same between pulling a yoke in front of you then using a joysick like yoke the next day.


Pilots in articles that I have read said they really like the joystick because without a yoke in front they are able to have a flat surface to use as a desk.


I’m confused about these “hidden” parts of the autopilot. The auto pilot is just a box with buttons. Everything is hidden. How does turning a knob make the plane bank? You shouldn’t use it until you learn fully how it operates. From a simple 2-axis autopilot to the most sophisticated, computer integrated, nextgen Airbus; nothing is hidden when you know the system. I guess my point is, I question the argument that an “Auto” pilot is good as long as its only somewhat “Auto”, but if its extra “Auto” then it bad.

Nobody would argue that a yoke will feel different than a stick, and there’s obviously pros and cons for both configurations. But i seriously doubt any pilot will jump from one to the next, and if they do, they must first go through initial and recurrent training to stay proficient in any plane they fly, so I doubt it would be a hindrance.

I personally would prefer the stick. Seems like it’d be more ergonomical, and like Dami pointed out, more roomy.


I think nutter is refering to Airbus’s design decision to route flight inputs through the flight computer which then makes decisions that modifies the output so as not permit the pilot to fly outside the normal flight envelope.


Agree. On these systems, the pilot’s control movements is just another input that the computer uses to decide what to do. Obviously somewhat of an overstatement, but not without truth.


How does the saying go??-- “the planes of the future will be staffed with a Pilot and a monkey. The Pilots job is to feed the monkey and the monkey is there to slap the Pilot if he tries to touch anything…”