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Energy management on initial approach

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    Energy management on initial approach

    Hello fellow drivers,

    So far a happy NGXu user here. I've been doing some flights around Europe and I have encountered an energy management issue upon initial approach. My aircraft (737-800 BW) starts to pick up up speed quickly after passing the decel point were vnav commands a shallower path to meet the 250 restriction at FL100. First of all, I notice that the v/s remains around 700 between the two green decel dots. This is not what I am used to in the NGX. There vnav commands a v/s of around 400 f/min during slow down. Hence, my speed in the NGXu won't slow down properly. After that, the v/s increases till 1200 or even 1300 according to vnav path. This is way to steep because in less than 30 seconds I am picking up another 20 kts till my speed is 270 while established on the LOC or even the glide. I need to throw out flaps and gear way to fast at a too high speed to get enough drag to slow down.

    This happened to my twice now. The first time I had a ZFW of around 60 tonnes and the second time around 57 tonnes. I did have a tailwind on both approaches between 10-20 kts.

    Am I doing something wrong or did my install get bugged?

    Looking forward on reading some feedback here.

    Cheers,

    Daniel Westdijk

    #2
    Hi Daniel,

    I'm not a flight instructor, and don't play one on TV . However, I can share with you whatever limited experience I have. The -800 is a notoriously a slippery devil, so I agree with you wholeheartedly on that point but don't think it's something to do with your SW install. The way VNAV manages energy on descent is by throttling all the way back and adjusting descent angle to maintain the commanded airspeed at idle power. It keeps the descent shallow if the airspeed is too high purposely in order to slow down. So it's the airspeed that keeps the descent rate shallow, not FMC. There are several strategies that I found work well for me most of the time:

    1. It's difficult to descent and slow down at the same time, you have to pick one or the other, but not both. This takes some planning ahead. One option is to add a pseudo waypoint with the final target altitude several miles head of where you need to arrive, from there you will be level and can slow down more effectively before you arrive at the target fix.
    2. Disengage VNAV below 10K and control altitude and airspeed with MCP bugs.
    3. Enter a hold at a fix to buy yourself time, lose altitude/airspeed, and get things back under control.
    3. Deploy speedbrakes to help slow down. This generally helps to make small incremental changes (i.e., increasing rate of descent slightly, etc.) but it's not going to solve major discrepancies.
    4. Plan to land into the wind to help slow groundspeed (also buys you more time) as opposed to having tail wind which puts you at a disadvantage.
    5. Go around. It's not as uncommon as most people think.

    Just a few strategies I found work well for me sometime depending on a situation. I usually start planning and rehearsing the descent profile around 200 NM before reaching T/D, so that I know where I need to be before I get there. Descent is probably one of the more exciting stages of flight, because it's all about thinking and planning ahead, like fishing; less to do with what kind of gear you have, but rather outsmarting the game. It get's better with time and experience.

    Here is a good problem to work out:
    Let's say you're doing 240 KT at 10,000 ft and you need to arrive at a fix doing 210 KT at 2,000 ft, and you want to descent at 1500 fpm. How many miles before that point would you need to start descending? To make math simpler, take an average of the airspeeds 225 KT, or roughly 4 NM/min. So, 4 NM/min / 1500 ft/min * 8,000 ft gives you roughly 20 NM. Add another 5 to that for good measure. So with that, you should start the descent at 1500 fpm about 25 NM away from the target fix. Luckily for us, FMC displays distances before each fix so it's easy to visualize where to start descending. It helps to work out these problems well ahead of the T/D when you have more time with not a lot going on.

    Hope this helps,
    Serge S.
    Serge Saakov - KPVD
    my YouTube page

    Comment


    • DDowns
      DDowns commented
      Editing a comment
      Regarding the deceleration to 250 at 10000: The NGXu -800 is too slippery and PMDG is looking at it so if you are coming in with 20 kt tailwind then plan on a touch of speedbrake to get down to 250 by that second green dot. Take advantage of the VPI to see where your descent is going and if slowing also where you are expected to reach the slower speed. Helpful when descending to a constraint with tailwind.

    #3
    Very good post,thanks
    Wayne Such

    Comment


      #4
      What program if any are you using for your flight planning.? Are you using a ATC program?

      The -800/900 is notorious for needing time to slow down. "You can go down or slow down not both." If the approach has time it will slow first then descend. if not you will come in high and hot. The default ATC and RC4 will FUBAR your descent every time.
      Charles Harris KRTS The Valley of Speed
      ASUS ROG Strix B450-F, Ryzen 3700X, 1TB 970 Neo M2,1TB SSD, RX 5700XT 8GB, 32GB DDR4 3200

      Comment


        #5
        I've had a bit of trouble myself slowing down both the 800 and the 900ER on approach. Getting down from about 210 kts (or whatever the speed constraint was) to around 180 kts for flaps 1 is a bit of a struggle. I've had to throw out the gear already when speed still didn't permit to go to flaps 10/15 to slow down, even with headwind.
        Niklas Graefe

        Comment


          #6
          Originally posted by threegreen View Post
          I've had a bit of trouble myself slowing down both the 800 and the 900ER on approach. Getting down from about 210 kts (or whatever the speed constraint is) to around 180 kts for flaps 1 is a bit of a struggle. I've had to throw out the gear already when speed still didn't permit to go to flaps 10/15 to slow down, even with headwind.
          I'll often set a speed constraint at 9 nm for 190 kts and let the FMS slow it down for me. Also, the VNAV path seems intent on not intercepting the GS until at the FAF so I almost always switch to V/S and manage my descent at somewhere around 500-600 fpm to intercept the GS/GP earlier. This makes slowing down a lot easier.

          Just gotta stay ahead of the airplane. Does it have bugs? Yes... but they are consistent and easy to work with if you stay ahead of the airplane.
          Dan Downs KCRP

          Comment


            #7
            Originally posted by serge_s View Post
            Hi Daniel,
            1. It's difficult to descent and slow down at the same time, you have to pick one or the other, but not both. This takes some planning ahead. One option is to add a pseudo waypoint with the final target altitude several miles head of where you need to arrive, from there you will be level and can slow down more effectively before you arrive at the target fix.
            2. Disengage VNAV below 10K and control altitude and airspeed with MCP bugs.
            3. Enter a hold at a fix to buy yourself time, lose altitude/airspeed, and get things back under control.
            3. Deploy speedbrakes to help slow down. This generally helps to make small incremental changes (i.e., increasing rate of descent slightly, etc.) but it's not going to solve major discrepancies.
            4. Plan to land into the wind to help slow groundspeed (also buys you more time) as opposed to having tail wind which puts you at a disadvantage.
            5. Go around. It's not as uncommon as most people think.
            1. I know this from experience with the NGX. Usually, I tend to set myself up for a speed around 180kts at 10nm (with range arc). I select flaps 5 at passing 10, following by gear down and flaps 15 about 2 miles later. In the NGX I usually have no trouble slowing down because I tend to set a speed constraint of around 220-210 around 15 dme away. However in the NGXu I don't get that far. As soon as the a/c reaches its F100 decel point to decel to 240, it is my experience that the descent rate during this calculated period of speed reduction is to steep, preventing me from not reaching the required speed at the second green dot. This is followed by an even steeper descent which forces to aircraft to pick up speed again.

            2. Above FL100 Lvl change does good work for me, below I prefer to use VNAVspd. But then again, a very very shallow speed must be commanded to maintain velocity (of 240), much shallower than I am used to in the NGX.

            3. Nah, holding is not an option. I prefer to anticipate without using a hold (I rarely do) and if possible without the use of speedbrakes.

            4. I always land into the wind. I don't always arrive and approach into the wind

            5. Agreed, but I prefer not to.

            Originally posted by Snowfalcon View Post
            What program if any are you using for your flight planning.? Are you using a ATC program?

            The -800/900 is notorious for needing time to slow down. "You can go down or slow down not both." If the approach has time it will slow first then descend. if not you will come in high and hot. The default ATC and RC4 will FUBAR your descent every time.
            I plan my flight in PFPX using a profile from aircraft performance profiles. I don't use ATC, but I do fly on VATSIM and that can be a challenge at times when it comes to energy management. Especially on fields that I am not familiar to.

            It seems to me that the descent behaviour is radically different compared to the NGX, might be something I need to get used to, but still...

            Daniel Westdijk
            pijnackerpilot
            Last edited by pijnackerpilot; 16Dec2019, 22:14.

            Comment


              #8
              I could be wrong, but I thought Boeing allows flaps 1 at 210 kt? Anyways, I'm usually leveled off at pattern altitude doing 210 kt with flaps 1 on downwind, or within the 15 nm arc from the runway if straight in, and then drop to 180 kt a few miles before glideslope intercept, as well as gear down and flaps 5 at that point. At FAF (about 5 mi out), I usually reduce speed to APR +5 depending on conditions. <<<Usually>>> Of course it "always" goes to plan . Landings are like a "box of chocolates" you never know what you're gonna get.

              Serge Saakov
              Last edited by serge_s; 16Dec2019, 22:34.
              Serge Saakov - KPVD
              my YouTube page

              Comment


                #9
                Originally posted by serge_s View Post
                I could be wrong, but I thought Boeing allows flaps 1 at 210 kt? Anyways, I'm usually leveled off at patter altitude doing 210 kt with flaps 1 on downwind, or within the 15 nm arc from the runway if straight in, and then drop to 180 kt a few miles before glideslope intercept, as well as gear down and flaps 15 at that point. At FAF (about 5 min out), I usually reduce speed to APR +5 depending on conditions. <<<Usually>>> Of course it "always" goes to plan . Landings are like a "box of chocolates" you never know what you're gonna get.

                Serge Saakov
                I think Flap 1 is much higher than 210; regardless, I try to stick to the flap extraction schedule: Flap 1 at speedtape "UP", Flap 5 at "1", Flap 15 at "5" or Gear Down...etc (FCOM NP 21.68)
                Dan Downs KCRP

                Comment


                  #10
                  Dan, we're in agreement on this. "UP" is essentially 210 KT, and the rest is on schedule. I might have cludged up what I typed before; trouble connecting the brain to my fingers, LOL. Take care bud.

                  Serge Saakov
                  Serge Saakov - KPVD
                  my YouTube page

                  Comment


                    #11
                    In short, it helps to stick to several rules when descending in the 737NG (real and NGXu) :

                    - don't use VNAV
                    - descent OR slow down, don't try to do both at the same time.
                    - no SOP, but it works: disengage A/T when descending using LVL CHG. If autopilot levels off and you haven't received further clearance, it will prevent the autothrottle from spooling up the engines and adding fuel/energy to the equation while you are actively trying to loose energy. While levelling off, the speed will bleed off and when you continue descent using the original airspeed, you will have an extra steep angle at first when the aircraft tries to reach the MCP speed, compensating for the temporary level off.

                    Still too high? Increase the speed and throw out spoilers. At 330IAS with full speedbrakes you easily hit 5000fpm. As drag increases exponentially with speed, a higher speed gives you a steeper descent angle. This obviously is valid for any airplane. Another thing: IRL speedbrakes are most effective above 250. Below 220, they barely have any effect at all. I have found the NGXu to be quite accurate also in this regard.

                    When arriving at FL100, keep the speedbrakes out, level off and speed will decrease to < 250KIAS in about 5 miles. (just like the real aircraft)

                    If you use the tools above, I have found the NGXu is perfectly capable of meeting a 1 in 3 glide path, which is a rule of thumb for most airliners (3nm per 1000ft altitude that needs to be lost).

                    I hope this helps.

                    Erik
                    Kind regards,

                    Erik Brouwer

                    Comment


                      #12
                      Erik, I'm uneasy with your suggestion to remove speed protection by disconnecting A/T in LVL CHG mode. You achieve the same thing by simply reducing your MCP SPD 10 kts.
                      Dan Downs KCRP

                      Comment


                      • Planeblogger
                        Planeblogger commented
                        Editing a comment
                        You don't, because then the aircraft will raise the nose too early to first capture the set speed, then continue descent to altitude and it will still add throttle.
                        Especially when you come from very steep descents, the aircraft starts to add power even thousands of feet above the set level off altitude which is not what you want.
                        IRL pilots prevent this from happening by physically restraining the throttle in idle position. It is a dirty fix, but it works. In FS, your only option is to temporarily disable A/T, set a lower speed and only then re-enable A/T.
                        A/T is not a speed protection or was it ever intended as such. It is not a FBW aircraft. You are still flying this airplane.

                        Erik

                      #13
                      Disconnecting the A/T for the purpose of removing the low speed protection would be a big no no in my company.
                      If the A/T is working against you, you have not set up proper modes in your MCP.
                      Of course sometimes you temporarily hold it back, but if you need to hold it back longer than 2-3 seconds you should reconsider your MCP selections.
                      Greetings,
                      Emanuel Hagen

                      Comment


                      • Planeblogger
                        Planeblogger commented
                        Editing a comment
                        Good thing we are flying our desk and don't have to stick to SOP's.
                        Essentially, we do not disable A/T to remove the low speed protection (we are getting nowhere near stall speed when we level off in a 330KIAS descent). You just temporary switch to manual engine control.
                        Holding the throttle back a few seconds as you describe is often just enough to make things work the way you like them to work.
                        But with FS controls, this is hard to achieve. Not many of us have motorized throttles at home. If you can show me a better way to make the NGXu level off at altitude from steep descent without it adding power, I am all for it. Bring it on! ;-)

                        Erik

                        EDIT: you can also try selecting V/S in the final part of the descent and thereafter lower MCP SPD to eg 250KIAS.
                        Last edited by Planeblogger; 17Dec2019, 16:20.

                      #14
                      Originally posted by Emi View Post
                      Disconnecting the A/T for the purpose of removing the low speed protection would be a big no no in my company.
                      If the A/T is working against you, you have not set up proper modes in your MCP.
                      Of course sometimes you temporarily hold it back, but if you need to hold it back longer than 2-3 seconds you should reconsider your MCP selections.
                      Agree. The MCP is very underated these days with the younger "magenta" generation of pilots.
                      Peter Webber

                      Prepar3D v4 / Windows 10 Home Edition / CPU i7-7700K / MSI Z270 XPower Gaming Titanium / Samsung 960 EVO M.2 500GB / Corsair Vengeance DDR4 32GB 3000MHz / MSI Geforce GTX 1080Ti Gaming X

                      Comment


                        #15
                        A/T is a finely-tuned PID controller and as such is capable of monitoring a setpoint, predicting, and controlling output much more effectively than a human can. Automation can be a friend if used properly.
                        Serge Saakov - KPVD
                        my YouTube page

                        Comment


                          #16
                          Planeblogger I have found a way that works well for me to keep the throttle at idle with AT on: Hold F1. (Or assign it to the idle position of your hardware throttle via FSUIPC). Works great but in the latter case you have to remember to move it out of idle.
                          i7-6700k, GTX 1080TI, 32GB DDR4 RAM @1600MHz, 4k

                          Comment


                            #17
                            Originally posted by serge_s View Post
                            A/T is a finely-tuned PID controller and as such is capable of monitoring a setpoint, predicting, and controlling output much more effectively than a human can. Automation can be a friend if used properly.
                            Oh boy, I had to laugh hard at this one.
                            Seriously, the 737's A/T is not very good. You constantly need to correct it during turbulence. Many people just disengage it altogether during gusty conditions as it won't hold you speed very well, heck nobody would be surprised it if just flew you into the overspeed.
                            Talking about overspeeds, guess where it's usually going and where you usually have to intervene with the speed brake during cruise with some turbulence.
                            Greetings,
                            Emanuel Hagen

                            Comment


                              #18
                              LOL, Emi, I really enjoy reading your posts. But, as an engineer, if I only had a dime every time I heard that from an operator. To your credit, you guys are the ones who have to deal with the reality of the situation and be responsible for passengers and cargo. I agree, it's not perfect, but you can't argue that automation makes you safer and more efficient if used properly.
                              Serge Saakov - KPVD
                              my YouTube page

                              Comment


                                #19
                                Originally posted by serge_s View Post
                                LOL, Emi, I really enjoy reading your posts. But, as an engineer, if I only had a dime every time I heard that from an operator. To your credit, you guys are the ones who have to deal with the reality of the situation and be responsible for passengers and cargo. I agree, it's not perfect, but you can't argue that automation makes you safer and more efficient if used properly.
                                If developed properly 😝
                                i7-6700k, GTX 1080TI, 32GB DDR4 RAM @1600MHz, 4k

                                Comment


                                  #20
                                  There's a lot of compromises made in designing or tuning a PID controller, and with something like a throttle there is never a chance that it will work perfect in every case. Tune the loop to be right on top of rapid changes such as gusts and you end up with a throttle that wanders back and forth aimlessly in steady cruise. The PID loop needs to be tuned such that the hysteresis or time it takes to spool up or down does not turn into something dangerous.

                                  I'm amazed that autothrottle works as well as it does.... and I suspect it's not simply a single PID loop but a network of loops.
                                  Dan Downs KCRP

                                  Comment


                                  • serge_s
                                    serge_s commented
                                    Editing a comment
                                    Dan, now we know what you do for a living, my friend. LOL Small world.

                                  #21
                                  Originally posted by Ephedrin View Post

                                  If developed properly 😝
                                  In the eyes of end user, it's ALWAYS automation fault But guess what guys, if you get off the butts for a minute and participate in the design process, we might even get it right once in a while.
                                  Serge Saakov - KPVD
                                  my YouTube page

                                  Comment


                                  • Ephedrin
                                    Ephedrin commented
                                    Editing a comment
                                    Haha very true! I come from that business too, in the wider sense not software developing though..

                                  #22
                                  Originally posted by Planeblogger View Post
                                  In short, it helps to stick to several rules when descending in the 737NG (real and NGXu) :

                                  - don't use VNAV
                                  I simply don't understand where this notion comes from, that VNAV somehow doesn't work in the airplane. I mean, you're not the first person I've heard say it, it's just that my experience is quite different.

                                  A significant portion of our route structure involves flying in LNAV/VNAV from off the ground until back on it, on hops that consist of complex RNP departure and approach procedures connected by a short enroute segment. Coming out of VNAV simply is not an option, and there's never a reason to anyway. I've been doing this for years and haven't yet had to fight VNAV, or whatever the urban legends say might happen.

                                  I said this elsewhere: if the plane actually had half the VNAV problems that are claimed, it never would have received RNAV approach certification, let alone RNP certification. Instead, it is actually the platform that was used to invent RNP approach technology.
                                  Andrew Crowley

                                  Comment


                                    #23
                                    You have to give it 100% accurate input, then VNAV will give you a very good output.
                                    As always with computers... **** in, **** out.
                                    Greetings,
                                    Emanuel Hagen

                                    Comment


                                      #24
                                      Originally posted by serge_s View Post

                                      In the eyes of end user, it's ALWAYS automation fault But guess what guys, if you get off the butts for a minute and participate in the design process, we might even get it right once in a while.
                                      Pay me for it..... ah, my airline paid 80 million bucks for the airplane already!

                                      No seriously, it is clear that no automation can perform 100% perfect, however then don't write into the FCOM that it does.
                                      Same with the speed brakes "the 737 has very effective speed brakes"... yeah, sure it does!
                                      NOT!
                                      Greetings,
                                      Emanuel Hagen

                                      Comment


                                        #25
                                        Originally posted by Emi View Post

                                        Pay me for it..... ah, my airline paid 80 million bucks for the airplane already!

                                        No seriously, it is clear that no automation can perform 100% perfect, however then don't write into the FCOM that it does.
                                        Same with the speed brakes "the 737 has very effective speed brakes"... yeah, sure it does!
                                        NOT!
                                        Hi Emi, I understand your point of view completely and believe me your end-user feedback is very important to drive future improvements. I don’t work for Boeing and definitely not the guy who negotiates contracts or writs checks, but the process for escalating issues to the manufacturer is essentially the same. Your company must have an SOP on how to do this. If you feel so strongly that a piece of equipment is not working as it should, my suggestion (as unpopular as it may be) is to follow your company procedure. That said, I can tell you that more likely than not, the particular issues you are experiencing have already been brought up, evaluated, well understood, and prioritized. Some things get fixed immediately (MCAS) and some non-safety items are upgraded and improved incrementally over time. Otherwise, we’d all be flying PMDG 200s now. Also, don’t forget, since we’re discussing 7-3 specifically here, the basic airframe design has really no changed much in over 50 years (hard to believe I know).

                                        To keep things in perspective, look at it on a bright side, you have one of the best jobs in the world where it’s always sunny in the office! Any one of us simmers and landlubbers would gladly trade places with you.

                                        Now that we've completely mangled the original intent of the OP's question, I believe it's a good topic to discuss and perhaps should be split off into a separate thread.

                                        Cheers my friend - Serge
                                        Serge Saakov - KPVD
                                        my YouTube page

                                        Comment


                                          #26
                                          Originally posted by Emi View Post
                                          Seriously, the 737's A/T is not very good.
                                          I agree with this 100%.
                                          ATPL - Class I Instructor - Seaplane - B737 - BE1900D

                                          Comment


                                            #27
                                            Serge my perspective unless you are actually a real 737 pilot i dont think any of us simmers or private/commercial can really understand what it takes to fly for an airline day in day out from the political BS, to the huge level of knowledge thats required to safely perform, and to be expected to always be near perfect, in some ways we are better off flying the ngxu as we always get to choose and enjoy. Hats off to the boys and girls who fly these amazing machines. Wish it was me but i dont miss all the pressure and drudgery that surely goes with it, after the first 5-10 years would become a job, high paid and sometimes fun but still a job.
                                            Wayne Such

                                            Comment

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