View Full Version : Cruise stuff

03-20-2002, 10:44 AM
So.. what do pilots actually do on a long flight after finally getting cleared to the cruise altitude. I mean, the autopilot is on, taking care of speed/heading/altitude. If the pilots are just monitoring the instruments, is it just coffee time until descent? Does it get boring during cruise?

I ask because usually during my longer flights when I am at cruise I usually can only just sit there and watch my FMC take care of everything. Yeah, it gets exciting again nearing descent but not until. The nice thing about college is you leave your comp on, go to the library and study, then come back for descent.

So yeah... question: do they have to do paperwork? adjust anything mid flight?

Brendan Ratchford
CEO, GlobeLink Aviation Group AG

03-20-2002, 10:57 AM
They have to watch the fuel flow and scan the instruments for any abnormability. On long trans-atlantic flights they also have to communicate with ATC on the shore (of Europe or N. America), and tell them their ETA at the waypoints of the north atlantic tracks. Same for Pacific.

Anything else?


03-20-2002, 11:03 AM
Mmmm, good question. I think the view from a real cockpit is a little bit more "nice" than the screen we simmers look at when flying. Besides the real pilots have a a litte more intrest in the instruments than we simmers do as thing can actually happen for them. Yes you can set failures in a sim. BUT will never be the same as it is in a real plane with real people sitting ind the back. But I have to say that I think that real pilots find the landing most interesting also. I don't know the answer and can therefore only say that I settle for medium range flights as they never take more than 3-4 houres. Compare it when driving a car i real life with driving on a computer.

03-20-2002, 11:10 AM
Hi Brendan,

If you take a look in the cockpit of any modern airliner, it is easy to get the impression that the guys are just sitting there doing nothing but reading the paper and sipping coffee. That is a consequence of the automation, but even when every thing is running on automatic there is still some administration to deal with. Fuel monitoring is one part, as is time monitoring and ATC instructions. All this information is printed on the hardcopy flightplan and should match those figures.

It as not uncommon to deviate from a flightplan, say if you get a direct routing bypassing one or more waypoints. This is easily done by reprogramming the FMC. You will also have to deal with FL changes, as virtually all long range flights are using a step-climb profile to get to a more fuel efficient altitude as you burn off fuel and the aircraft gets lighter. This is pre-programmed on the FMC but as with direct routings changes do occour and a manual update must be entered.

There is also other traffic to monitor, and it is not uncommon for a 747 to be held up due to a slower preceeding aircraft, possibly 767 or 340. If the 747 is heavy and cannot step climb to overtake the slower a/c it will have to slow down, and accept the fuel penalty, until enough fuel is burned off to allow for a step-climb and eventually overtake the slower moving a/c. This is not something the FMC can be programmed to do.

But all this is really secondary to the main task of chatting up the hosties and try to set up a date for the downroute layover.

03-20-2002, 11:16 AM
During my 20 years in the U.S. Air Force, I had the good forune to visit the cockpit on long flts. Usually the crew is just monitoring all the readouts and basically just relaxing. Honestly for me just looking out the window, you really don't see much as FL30 plus and is kinda boring. Alot of clouds, haze and just really nothing to look at unless you were going over some mountain ranges. Sometimes the Aircrew will get up and walk around and stretch there legs. One at a time of course.

03-20-2002, 11:16 AM
Besides generally doing what has already been posted (monitoring instruments), they also double check navigation of the autopilot manually, and a vital requirement is to tell jokes... the dirtier and more sophisticated the better. :)



03-20-2002, 11:24 AM
ok.. then for my next long flight I will try to make a chart of planned fuel burns and ETA's for each waypoint, and keep a log during the flight. Next to a cup of CHAI, not coffee. Now I just have to find a dispatch program that will help me with the fuel calculations..hmm... that would involved calculating the corresponding upper level winds relative to aircraft heading, and cause a whole slew of vector-math calculations. thank goodness for right trangles. And then of course as fuel burns, the aircraft becomes lighter, and it will therefore use less fuel- ahhh, calculus! the area under the fuel usage curve will be the total fuel used.. that brings derivatives and anti-derivatives into the picture.

Actually, make that 2 cups of chai. I've got a lot of work to do.

Brendan Ratchford
CEO, GlobeLink Aviation Group AG

03-20-2002, 12:56 PM
All these folks are just telling you what the real pilots and the airlines want you to think. If you want the real scoop, here it is. It consists of the combination of 2 separate items:

Stewardesses and Mile High Club!!!


Ken G:-wave

03-20-2002, 01:01 PM
By manually, I meant looking out of the window and watching for important waypoint markers, like the Grand Canyon or Joe's Bar-b-que at the corner of 5th and Main in Omaha. :-lol



03-20-2002, 01:20 PM
Some of the pilot's time is spent monitoring the constantly changing weather. While the weather radar is not simulated in FS2002 it is a major concern for the pilot to avoid, for instance thunderstorms.

03-20-2002, 01:25 PM
I remember on one flight from Londen to JFK the flight crew handed out bingo cards markers with the pilot acting as the caller. everbody got envolved all 225 people on board. a good wayto keep occupied. seriously though a good long flight i can get a lot of reading done

03-20-2002, 02:38 PM
WHAT!? Das is einfach QUATSCH!

Es sind die maennlichen Flugbegleiter, die mich interessieren!

Translation: uhh right... exactly!

Brendan Ratchford
CEO, GlobeLink Aviation Group AG

03-20-2002, 04:58 PM
ive stopped flying long haul. it gets real boring.... and theres no stewardesses. its also much worse on the default planes with no FMC to keep track of progress. does anyone know if it is possible to download FMCs that work with the default aircraft?


03-20-2002, 05:03 PM
I have heard that the PSS 747/777 can work with other aircraft... but again on long hauls, all the programming is done at the beginning. It is cool to have an aircraft like the PSS A320 or 767PIC where there are so many systems to monitor.

but hey, MS gave us 16x speed right?


Brendan Ratchford
CEO, GlobeLink Aviation Group AG

03-20-2002, 05:05 PM
Maennlichen Flugbegleiter?? Sie Necken.

The Doc

03-20-2002, 05:06 PM
If you want more interesting long haul flights, try flying from London to SE Asia, or to Capetown.... Or from LAX to Santiago.... Such flights keep you over land much of the way, and you get a real appreciation of how big the world truly is. And be sure the cabin crew is compatible with your sense of humor :)

03-20-2002, 05:28 PM
Use your imagination, up there with all those nice sterwardesses..............Yes thats right they drink loads of COFFEE!!!! Ha ha ha

No they are probably very busy people monitoring gauges etc etc.......Well i hope they do anyway.


03-21-2002, 12:37 AM
Hours of pure boredom.. followed by moments of stark terror.

and the crossword puzzle from USA Today borrowed from the hotel, income taxes,signing divorce papers,reading the bid packets for next months lines,and the occasional whats it doing now? (refering to the FMS)..

Whats the difference between a airline captain and a jet engine?

:the jet engine stops whining when its at the gate.