afp-getty-518082858-20130311

Cap’n Aux Answers Your #Avgeek Q’s – Part III, v. 2.0!

#aviation #capnaux #blog #Airbus #A320 #airline
Folks, you’ve sent me so many Q’s, I’m doing a second round of Tech Q’s.  Let’s call it, “Part 2” of Part III!

This one’s a biggie, so let’s get started!

airplane, airline, aviation, blog, cap'n aux, capnaux, cockpit, plane, airplane, boeing, airbus, A320

NOTE: During research, I found an excellent interactive site where you can play with A320 buttons and controls.  (Other aircraft types available here, too!)

Refer to it during our discussion if you’d like:
How do you “cold start” your aircraft?
—Dave W.
Eh…a slightly complicated question!
If we step aboard a “cold, dark” airplane, there’s a checklist we go through to get ground power going.  Basically: park brake verified set; engine masters off; landing gear handle verified down (even though the plane should “know” it’s on the ground and won’t raise the gear when we turn the power on, I ain’t gonna be the first person to try it!)

airplane, airline, aviation, blog, cap'n aux, capnaux, cockpit, plane, airplane, boeing, airbus, A320
Electrical section, on the overhead panel.

 Now we select the ground power on (overhead.) When we push the switch, it changes from the green “Avail” light to a blue “On.”  Now the plane is powered and the lights come on.  We’ll push the Battery 1 & 2 switches on, so they’ll receive charging, and will be a backup if the External drops offline.  Once the CRT’s warm up, we can actually see the power system on the ELEC page, if we select it on the lower ECAM:

airplane, airline, aviation, blog, cap'n aux, capnaux, cockpit, plane, airplane, boeing, airbus, A320
Lower ECAM shows External Power is connected and powering the ship.
AC Busses 1 & 2, TR (Transformer/Rectifiers) 1&2, DC and AC Essential, and DC Battery Busses all powered.

From here, we’d eventually turn on the APU (Auxiliary Power Unit), which is basically a small jet engine in the tail.  The APU could actually be used as an engine on a turboprop!  Once the power is switched over, we can have the ground crew disconnect Ext.

For airflow through the cabin, we’ll also select APU bleed air on.  Now the APU supplies electrical power and air.  That’s the noisy whine you hear when boarding a plane: the air conditioning “Packs” that blow air through the cabin.

airplane, airline, aviation, blog, cap'n aux, capnaux, cockpit, plane, airplane, boeing, airbus, A320
Center pedestal controls.  Can you find the engine Ignition & Master switches?

Usually during pushback, the ground crew will clear us to start.

Now we get to your question!
airplane, airline, aviation, blog, cap'n aux, capnaux, cockpit, plane, airplane, boeing, airbus, A320

Starting a motor on an airbus is easy.  Once cleared, we simply switch the Engine Ignition switch to “Start,” and flip the desired Engine Master switch up and On.  The computer does the rest!

If there’s a problem, the computer will shut the engine back down.  In that case, we’ll probably have to call maintenance.  In some cases, we can start it “Manually,” which is a similar process, but we manually open and close the Start Valves and monitor the start parameters ourselves (getting enough air flow to spin up, not getting too hot, no “hung starts,” etc.)

Extra Credit: find the Manual Start Valve switches on the overhead panel photo, below!

What are the different sections and controls in the cockpit?
—Dave W.
Whooey, another BIG question!

REAR PANEL & Aft Overhead
 Circuit breakers.

 

OVERHEAD PANEL
The Overhead Panel has 3 columns.

airplane, airline, aviation, blog, cap'n aux, capnaux, cockpit, plane, airplane, boeing, airbus, A320
Here’s Meriweather’s interactive overhead panel link: http://www.meriweather.com/flightdeck/320/over-320.html

From “Top” (aft) to “Bottom” (Forward), starting with the LEFT COLUMN:
ADIRS panel: Air Data and Inertial Ref. panel.  ADR’s provide primary flight data such as attitude, altitude and speed to the flight instruments, and IRS provide inertial reference—basic navigation.
FLT CTL
Primary ELAC 1, SEC 1, FAC 1 Primary flight data “black boxes.”
EMER ELEC PWR
To deploy the RAT (Ram Air Turbine) for air-generated electrical power.
GPWS Controls
Controls various modes of the Ground Proximity Warning System
OXYGEN
Deploys passenger O2 masks
CALLS
To call various Flight Attendant stations, or all at once in an emergency.
WIPER
The windshield wipers!

CENTER COLUMN
ENGINE 1 & 2 AND APU FIRE BUTTONS
Shuts off respective power plants in an emergency fire, and deploys the fire bottles
HYDRAULIC PANEL
Controls all 3 hydraulic systems, Green, Yellow and Blue.
ELECTRICAL PANEL
Controls flow of electricity, including engine-driven generators, APU, RAT, and external power.
AIR FLOW PANEL
Controls packs (air conditioners/pressurization) and bleed valves (high pressure siphoned off engines) and controls for cabin pressurization and temperature.
LIGHT SWITCH PANELS
Controls various lights such as Landing lights, beacon, seat belt switch, etc.

RIGHT COLUMN
ACP/RMP 3
Flt Control Computers and Cargo Heat/Cargo Smoke panels
Ventilation, Manual Engine start controls and FO windshield wipers.

All of these panels work in conjunction with the ECAMs (Electronic Control and Monitoring—ie, CRT screens) which has a “running schematic” for each system.  For example, switch from External power to onboard APU power will display the transfer in real-time on the screen.

GLARESHIELD

airplane, airline, aviation, blog, cap'n aux, capnaux, cockpit, plane, airplane, boeing, airbus, A320
Simulation of the Glareshield controls.
Quick Trivia Question:  is the above pic an A319/320, or an A321? (Answer below!)*

 Meriweather link: http://www.meriweather.com/flightdeck/320/glare-320.html
On the glareshield, we find caution and warning lights, controls for the ND (Nav display) to switch ranges and such, and the biggy:  the FCU, or Flight Control Unit.

airplane, airline, aviation, blog, cap'n aux, capnaux, cockpit, plane, airplane, boeing, airbus, A320

The FCU is the Autopilot.  In all phases of flight, we can pull a button to “Select” our own settings—headings, altitudes, speeds, etc., or we can push the buttons to “Manage” them—that is, let “Fifi” choose the speeds, tracks, etc.

airplane, airline, aviation, blog, cap'n aux, capnaux, cockpit, plane, airplane, boeing, airbus, A320

CONTROL PEDESTAL
Again, 3 columns.  Left and right are mostly similar controls, for the Captain and FO to use.
airplane, airline, aviation, blog, cap'n aux, capnaux, cockpit, plane, airplane, boeing, airbus, A320
Center Pedestal.  At top: Upper and Lower ECAMs, standby instruments, landing gear and autobrakes
LEFT/RIGHT 
MCDU (Multipurpose Control Display Unit)  Our interface with the airplane.
RMP (Radio Magnetic Panel); ACP (Audio Control Panel) – see below
Weather RADAR controls, Predictive windshear controls, lights, and transponder.
CENTER
Various ECAM switches, to interact with the Upper and Lower ECAMs, the CRT screens in the center.
Thrust levers.  We differentiate between “thrust” levers and “throttles,” because we normally set these in a detent and they don’t move until landing, even though we are constantly changing speeds!  Old fashioned throttles move with each power change.  We can turn off the “Autothrust,” in which case the thrust levers become throttles.
Trim wheels.  Again, unlike most other aircraft, we do not touch the trim wheels.  We have Autotrim.  So, point the nose at a certain attitude (within reason), and the plane stays there! And again, we can be flying in a degraded mode where we have to manually trim, just like the old days!
LOWER PEDESTAL
Speed Brakes; engine masters and start switch; rudder trim; park brake; alternate gear lever; flaps; printer; other optional controls.

UPPER/LOWER ECAMS
The upper ECAM in the center shows us real time flight info, such as engine status, fuel burn, etc.  The Lower ECAM is an interactive systems page.
airplane, airline, aviation, blog, cap'n aux, capnaux, cockpit, plane, airplane, boeing, airbus, A320
Push the Elec button, and a real-time schematic of the Electrical system pops up, showing what’s powered and how.  So nice!

Push the button for the system you want, and a schematic will come up with the status!


Related Q:
How do you memorize the overhead panel?

—Junior M.

I always like to answer with a saying: “You can eat an elephant – one bite at a time!”
Just like anything, we have to learn…slowly.
However, “memorize” might be a bit misleading.  You couldn’t blindfold me, for instance, and ask me to hit the Bus Tie switch.  But, just like fiddling with your car radio while driving, things you use every day become second nature.  I can always reach up and hit the taxi light or the windshield wiper on and off without ever looking for them, because I’m always using them!

While I couldn’t sketch out every button on the overhead panel from memory, I could sketch you schematics for the Electrical, Hydraulic, Fuel or Pressurization systems.  Those we learn thoroughly in ground school (again, one bite at a time!)  I may not be as sharp as I once was at nailing every circuit and buss on the Electrical in my sketch, but that training, along with working the systems for years, have given me a thorough “working knowledge” to deal with them.

airplane, airline, aviation, blog, cap'n aux, capnaux, cockpit, plane, airplane, boeing, airbus, A320
Notice how each of these switches would feel different in your fingers.
Keep that in mind when looking at other switches around the cockpit!
 
Also, many switches are designed differently from each other, so you can recognize them by feel.  But when a mechanic replaces a Taxi light toggle switch with a Beacon light paddle switch . . . man, that really throws you off!

Do you have to fly Airbuses of a certain age, as I am sure there is differences between old and new (CRT vs LCD, upgrades, systems etc)?
—Dave W.
No.  The Airbus was designed specifically for minimal cross training.  Even between the 319-321‘s, we hardly notice the difference!

The Boeing-737, having started production much earlier, didn’t originally have that concept, but does now.  Even so, one type rating covers all B-737s, even though a pilot would need a little “differences” training, especially going from the “hard ball” to the EFIS, or glass cockpit.  Nearly every B-737 cockpit out there is different in little ways, which annoys the 737 driver to no end!

The Airbus…nary a diff!
On the sim I “play” on, the 320 series never seems anywhere close to the “Coffin Corner”  – Is that correct and do or have you ever flown with the barber poles converging?
—Dave W.
Note: “Coffin Corner” =max and min flying speeds converge.
Wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coffin_corner_(aviation)
The MCDU computer gives us our ideal cruise and max cruise altitude on the PROG page.  We don’t go above the “max,” which has a built-in fudge on Coffin Corner, by, I’d say, at least about +/- 7-10 kts or so.

What are the different radios, navigation & communications you use?
Airbus radios are, shall we say, a bit “overengineered.”


airplane, airline, aviation, blog, cap'n aux, capnaux, cockpit, plane, airplane, boeing, airbus, A320
The Capn’s “Radio Stack.” RMP on top, ACP on bottom.
Switch frequencies with the RMP, transmit/listen with the ACP.

First of all, we have the RMP, or Radio Management Panel.  With this, we can manually tune ATC radio frequencies.  We can also manually tune VORs, ILSs, etc. (all NAVAIDS), but this is mostly done automatically, and we would be using the manual feature as a backup.

Once we dial in the freq. on the RMP, we transmit and receive by selecting the ACP, or Audio Control Panel.  With it, we can select to listen and talk with ATC (or other entities such as Company or Emergency “Guard” on 121.50) on 3 different radios, talk to the flight attendants, the ground crew if at the gate, or even the PA.

There are 3 of each of these units, one for the Captain, one for the FO, and one as a standby.  We normally use the #1 frequency for ATC, and #2 for calling Company, etc.

NAVAID-wise, we have GPS, IRS, VOR, RNAV, ILS, ADF . . . you name it! NOT gonna go into these here!!

airplane, airline, aviation, blog, cap'n aux, capnaux, cockpit, plane, airplane, boeing, airbus, A320
A Low Altitude Enroute Chart, complete with waypoints—some real, some imaginary.
(Combo Q from several readers):
What are waypoints? I know BETTE3 is a departure at JFK but everything in between that are little highways that all planes going to the same destination will follow, right ? How do you guys know how to pronounce these waypoints ? And at these waypoints on the ground are there those red towers ? I have one near my house.

 Waypoints are imaginary points on the ground.  There are millions of them established around the world.  Many come from actual points, such as VOR (VHF Omin Range radio beacons) broadcast stations on the ground.

airplane, airline, aviation, blog, cap'n aux, capnaux, cockpit, plane, airplane, boeing, airbus, A320
A VOR beacon station.
We call this a “Mexican Hat.”

But they don’t need red towers, they can be completely imaginary.  With today’s technology, we can put a waypoint anywhere.  So, instead of zigzagging across the country, hopping from one VOR to another, we can draw a much “straighter” line to follow, saving tons of gas and time.

airplane, airline, aviation, blog, cap'n aux, capnaux, cockpit, plane, airplane, boeing, airbus, A320

We can even “build” our own waypoint in the computer!  We can establish a waypoint several ways, such as a place/bearing distance from an established point (again such as a VOR), or even use raw Lat/Long data.

airplane, airline, aviation, blog, cap'n aux, capnaux, cockpit, plane, airplane, boeing, airbus, A320

On arrival into SFO, I always build a waypoint over top of my family’s traditional secret camping spot in the Sierra Nevadas—we’ve been packing in there since the 1940’s!  During the arrival, the waypoint on my screen helps me to find the spot!


airplane, airline, aviation, blog, cap'n aux, capnaux, cockpit, plane, airplane, boeing, airbus, A320
A STAR into SBGR/GRU, chock full of waypoints!

“Little highways” is an apt description.  We will be planned on those routes, but if the traffic is clear, ATC often gives us shortcuts.  All SIDs (Standard Instrument Departures) STARs (Standard Terminal Arrival Routes), and instrument approaches have waypoints, each with its own specific name.  They are often named for the area they are by, like a town or a lake or something.
We have to guess at how to pronounce some of these names.  For example, we have the “Geela 6 Arrival” into PHX—everyone says hard G as in “guitar”, but the original pronunciation of “Gila,” (as in, Gila monster) is “Hee-la.”

As a PHX native, it drives me crazy to hear it mispronounced!

airplane, airline, aviation, blog, cap'n aux, capnaux, cockpit, plane, airplane, boeing, airbus, A320

Sometimes even the FAA gets creative with the names.  I remember one arrival into PHX, long defunct, that had the waypoint names “DARF,” followed by “VADRR,” and my personal favorite, “FUBAR.”  Going into KMCI, we have “SPICY,” “BARBQ” & “RIBBS.”

Apparently KPHX has lots of sports fans…

airplane, airline, aviation, blog, cap'n aux, capnaux, cockpit, plane, airplane, boeing, airbus, A320airplane, airline, aviation, blog, cap'n aux, capnaux, cockpit, plane, airplane, boeing, airbus, A320

On the Bunter 2 Arrival, we have HOMRR, BUNTR & PICHR.  On the Maeir 5, we have FBALL, KARDS, PGSKN…

airplane, airline, aviation, blog, cap'n aux, capnaux, cockpit, plane, airplane, boeing, airbus, A320

…and TLMAN, named after our Arizona Cardinals football hero, Pat Tillman, who left the NFL to join the Army Rangers after 9/11.  He was killed in action in Afghanistan.

War hero and football star, Corporal Pat Tillman.

THIS POST IS DEDICATED TO THE MEMORY OF CORPORAL PAT TILLMAN

Just this week, PHX hosted the 9th Annual Pat’s Run:

———————————————
*Trivia Answer: A321!  Reason: the CRT screens (ECAMs) are all square on the A321, but the A319-320s all have rounded corners! 
— — — — — — —
DID YOU LIKE THIS POST? Me too!
If so, I invite you to COMMENTSHARETWEETLIKE, EMAIL &/or +1 below!

It’s right after “Cap’n Aux links and just before the next post.
It looks like this: 
— — — — — — —

RELATED POSTS

PART I
“Cap’n Aux, have you ever…”

PART II
A day in the life of an airline pilot

PART III
Technical Questions, Part 1
PART IV
Question Potpourri

PART IV, 2.0
Question Potpourri, the Sequel

———————————————
Posting April 30 @ 11:00 PHX
Cap’n Aux answers readers’ Q’s—Part IV
YOUR questions you’ve been sending me all month!
airplane, airline, aviation, blog, cap'n aux, capnaux, cockpit, plane, airplane, boeing, airbus, A320

An AvGeek’s technical wet dream continues!
———————————————
Posting daily, May 7-12!
aviation,blog,avgeek, blogger,karlenepetitt,iflyblog,av8rdan,capnaux,ronrapp1,smrtflighttrain


Hotlinks to sites:
05.06.13 iFLYblog – Brent Owens (Intro Post)
05.07.13 Flight to Success – Karlene Petitt 
05.08.13 Adventures of Cap’n Aux – Eric Auxier
05.09.13 House of Rapp – Ron Rapp
05.10.13 Airplanista – Dan Pimentel
05.11.13 Smart Flight Training – Andrew Hartley
05.12.13 iFLYblog – Brent Owens

———————————————

Posting in May:
“Around the World in 80 Jumpseats”
airplane, airline, aviation, blog, cap'n aux, capnaux, cockpit, plane, airplane, boeing, airbus, A320
A Pilot’s Eye View of the World from the Cockpit Jumpseat!
———————

JOIN CAP’N AUX ON:

           
http://www.facebook.com/CapnAux                            http://twitter.com/capnaux