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Old 09-07-2018, 11:18 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Sully's hypermiling made him a better pilot (Flight 1549 / Hudson River, 2009)

Remember this?




https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/US_Airways_Flight_1549

I just read the pilot's book, Sully: My Search for What Really Matters (the movie's also on Netflix).

Good read. One thing that jumped out at me is how into efficiency and smoothness he is as a pilot. His wife calls it his love of "the art of the airplane."

He likes striving to perfect "coasting" into landings when he has no following traffic. From chapter 8:

Quote:
... there wasn't much traffic... It was up to me how I wanted to travel the final 110 miles... to the runway in San Francisco.

I could see the runway from 60 miles out. I started my descent at just the right distance so that the engines would be near idle thrust almost all the way in. If I started down at the right place, I could avoid having to use the speed brakes, which cause a rumbling in the cabin when extended. To get it right, I'd need to perfectly manage the energy of the jet.

"It was a smooth... gradual deceleration of the airplane. The wheels touched the runway softly enough that the spoilers didn't deploy immediately because they didn't recognize that the wheels were on the ground."
Reminds me (in a very small way) of the satisfaction of a perfectly timed neutral coast in a car, that comes to a halt exactly where it needs to without touching the brakes.

I wonder what kind of a driver he is. I know of a glider pilot / gearhead who got a Prius because he has an innate interest in optimizing his energy usage, and he appreciates the efficiency-oriented design of the car.

After the Hudson landing, a lot of people speculated that Sully's early training in gliders prepared him for what happened when the Airbus lost its engines, but he disagreed, saying instead it was his focus on "efficiency":

Quote:
...An Airbus [is] completely different from ... the gliders I flew. So my glider training was of little help. Instead, I think what helped me was that I had spent years flying jet airplanes and had paid close attention to energy management. On thousands of flights, I had tried to fly the optimum flight path. ... I was going to try to use the energy of the Airbus, without either engine, to get us safely to the ground.
(Chapter 13.)

Cool!

I'd love to experience one of Sullys well-executed descent / landings. When I think back to final approaches on flights I've taken, the pilots always seem to be throttling the engines up & down as the plane gets close to the runway. Surge, surge, surge...



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Old 09-07-2018, 11:55 PM   #2 (permalink)
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There's a man after my own heart. I'd surely buy Sully a beer if I ever ran into him.

Efficient driving saves a little fuel, but efficient flying can save tons. I'm actually surprised landings aren't automated. I know a lot of approaches and initial descents are.
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Old 09-08-2018, 12:44 AM   #3 (permalink)
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That's fascinating and if nothing else shows a man very in tune with the machine he's at the controls of. That could be a race car driver or a hypermiler, and either way, a good person to have at the controls.
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Old 09-08-2018, 06:49 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MetroMPG View Post
I'd love to experience one of Sullys well-executed descent / landings. When I think back to final approaches on flights I've taken, the pilots always seem to be throttling the engines up & down as the plane gets close to the runway.
Traditionally, planes had to fly stepped down approaches:
Descend, hold altitude, descend further, hold, ...
Every altitude hold costs fuel as the descent has to be stopped.

Nowadays, they're changing over to continuous descent approaches, which means less throttle-jockeying and less fuel burnt.

Autolanding systems vary throttles as well to hold speed / descent rate.

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