This week's Tuesday Tweeter is someone who I was pointed to by another special and amazing pilot in our aviation social network "family" and is a remarkable pilot with an immense wealth of knowledge. Without further delay:
18 February 2014
CAPTAIN BILL PALMER
He can be found
on Twitter at
Captain Palmer is not only a glider pilot, but also holds multiple type ratings for McDonnell Douglas (DC-10), Boeing, and Airbus. He is also is currently an A330 Captain for a major international airline, long time instructor, check airman, and an A330 subject matter expert. He has written training manuals for Northwest Airlines and the A330. The list certainly doesn't stop there, either.
Last week, I received a copy of his book "Understanding Air France 447", which takes an in-depth look at one of the most tragic airline crashes in aviation history with one of the most state of the art fly-by-wire commercial transports: The Airbus Industrie A330.
Upon asking Captain Palmer if there is anything about A330 aircraft performance we could learn from Air France 447, what would it be?
"The performance ingredient makes me think first of all of the realization that full (TOGA) power at cruise altitude is very ineffective for just about anything! I often demo this to my FOs. I can push the thrust levers up to TOGA in cruise and point out that other than the EPRs and N1s going to the high limit, nothing much else happens. The airspeed doesn't move, or it moves incredibly slowly, and there is certainly no feeling of acceleration or addition of power. This demonstrates that in situations of reduced energy (e.g., stall) virtually the only energy available to regain airspeed with is altitude - i.e., point the nose down. (I say "virtually" because discussions involving standing gravity waves (aka, "wave) and other atmospheric lifting will alter the exclusivity of that a bit.
But that is not just an A330 thing, it applies equally to just about any airplane as do many of AF 447's lessons."
To clarify any of the many misconceptions I always hear about Airbus (or "Scarebus" as derogatorily noted) by both aviation (pilots) and non-aviation individuals alike. One of these I hear frequently, especially after the tragic event of AFR 477 is that "pilots fly the Boeing, while the Airbus flies the pilot." Bill has offered his words of wisdom regarding pilot input to the Airbus interface:
"As I mentioned in the book, many describe it as the pilot asking for something and the computer deciding if it's going to let the pilot do that. That is really not the case, because the function of the pilot interface (control stick) has been altered. The pilot is not asking for x degrees of elevator or aileron movement (except in certain modes), but for a given performance. This is a fundamental shift. But the shift still works very closely to how we typically think when we fly airplanes, which for good or bad can mask that shift.
I've often described this shift to Airbus students as "you're telling it what to do, not how to do it."
And this is only just the beginning. To gain more insight into the A330 and the tragic event of Air France 447, please logon to understandingaf447.com and purchase the paperback. It will be one of the smartest investments you will make as this should be recommended reading for everyone and a required reading for any student pilot, private pilot, commercial pilot, and type rated ATP.
Captain Palmer can also be contacted via his blog site at trendvector.blogspot.com and also the website which also functions as a book companion to "Understanding Air France 447" Paperback copies of his book can also be ordered there.
His book is also available as an eBook in places such as Amazon, GooglePlay, Barnes & Noble, iTunes Store, SmashWords, and more at about half the price of the paperback. Non-USA / International customers should shop GooglePlay as price and availability are often better than Amazon.
Thank you so much Captain Palmer for taking the time to share your insight and wealth of information and for your service to the aviation industry at large!