FE incapacitation

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14 years 3 months

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How vital is the FE for properly taking off or landing a plane designed to have a FE station in the cockpit? Airliners are built to have two pilots and allow either of the pilots to land the plane alone, or continue takeoff, abort takeoff or abort landing as necessary. Nevertheless, this is difficult and unsafe, and I understand pilots are advised not to deliberately enter any critical flight phases alone. How seriously is the handling of a plane built with a FE station afflicted if the flight engineer is incapacitated? Is it easier to land such planes with both pilots and no one in reach of the FE panel, or one pilot and flight engineer?
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Profile picture for user SOFTLAD

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19 years 9 months

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Thats a very good question. I would say that both pilots as the FE can be operated without. Think all they do at these stages of the flight is set the power ? Safety wise i would say that two pilots would be better than one pilot and a fe. If you lost the only pilot things would go belly up. Be interested to hear other views on this ?
Profile picture for user wysiwyg

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In flight the key operations of the FE panel can be done by the remaining 2 pilots. It's in the overall operation such as the day to day running where a good FE could really be worth his weight in gold (and most of them were quite heavy!).
Profile picture for user Redwings

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I asked a family friend, who is a FE on the 747-300 for Qantas, about this a few years ago, and he told me that he is trained to actually be able to land the aircraft from both seats and basically be an acting FO. Cheers, Paul

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14 years 2 months

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While it may be possible to operated an aircraft certified with three man crew with only two man crew, it would be against regulations and the crew could be disciplined.
Profile picture for user Bmused55

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Thats a very good question. I would say that both pilots as the FE can be operated without. Think all they do at these stages of the flight is set the power ? Safety wise i would say that two pilots would be better than one pilot and a fe. If you lost the only pilot things would go belly up. Be interested to hear other views on this ?
AFAIK FEs are normaly Pilots themselves. I've read many an anecdote that has an FE swap seat with the FO etc.
Profile picture for user wysiwyg

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19 years 9 months

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Redwings - On the B742 at Virgin the FE had to be able to set the aircraft up for an autoland in the event of both pilots becoming incapacitated. In the event on 1 pilot becoming incapacitated the FE would read checklists and perhaps move flap/gear levers on the remaining pilots command. glhcarl, the question was never about deliberately setting off 2 crew in a 3 crew aircraft but how to cope with one pilot becoming incapacitated after departure so the 'regulations' are not really relevant here. Sandy, that brings up an interesting aspect as it was always common in the States for the FE to be a pilot waiting to get a shot in the right hand seat. With the exception of BEA and their Trident fleet the UK has always (at least for the last 20 years of FE ops) looked at the FE position as a dedicated engineers post as their supreme engineering skills were the thing that would get you home when the aircraft goes TU. They also tended to know the precise location of every strip joint in every city in the world!

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14 years 3 months

Posts: 1,101

Redwings - On the B742 at Virgin the FE had to be able to set the aircraft up for an autoland in the event of both pilots becoming incapacitated. In the event on 1 pilot becoming incapacitated the FE would read checklists and perhaps move flap/gear levers on the remaining pilots command. glhcarl, the question was never about deliberately setting off 2 crew in a 3 crew aircraft but how to cope with one pilot becoming incapacitated after departure so the 'regulations' are not really relevant here. Sandy, that brings up an interesting aspect as it was always common in the States for the FE to be a pilot waiting to get a shot in the right hand seat.
Does it mean the US airlines, and regulators, and manufacturers, made the assumption that if one pilot were incapacitated, the FE would be a qualified pilot and might leave the FE station to occupy the free seat? That landing an airliner by one qualified pilot required double flightccrew incapacitation?
With the exception of BEA and their Trident fleet the UK has always (at least for the last 20 years of FE ops) looked at the FE position as a dedicated engineers post as their supreme engineering skills were the thing that would get you home when the aircraft goes TU. They also tended to know the precise location of every strip joint in every city in the world!
So, the UK makes the assumption that FE has engineering expertise which neither pilot is expected to possess... with exception of Trident... does it run through, e. g. the cockpit setup of the VC10?