29.09.2014

Intense preparations for pilots and flight engineers

Newly devised panel for the flight engineer

When the Super Star finally takes off, four pilots and three flight engineers will have the licenses needed to fly the Lockheed L-1649A. A further three pilots and two flight engineers have been licensed as trainers and examiners since 2009 and will pass on their knowledge to the remaining Super Star crews.
Because the pilot licenses are valid for all three basic models in the Constellation range (Constellation, Super Constellation and Super Star), the DLBS crews will be able to use their licenses for the world's two remaining airworthy Super Constellations as well.
However, the activities of DLBS flight operations go far beyond training cockpit crews. For example, the pilots and flight engineers were heavily involved with the new layout of the Super Star flight deck too – not only when designing the new pilot panel but also when coming up with the newly devised panel for the flight engineer (FE). "Over the past few years, we have further developed the FE panel together with Jürgen Rohwer from Lufthansa Technik. We can now say with pride that the new layout will rapidly reduce the likelihood of the operational errors that frequently occurred in the past," said Georg Kohne, Head of Flight Operations and Chief Pilot at the DLBS. "My analysis of all Connie accidents has revealed that the majority of them were due to design errors in the original FE panel. For example, displays were arranged in an illogical manner and the various system components were spread across the panel," adds Kohne.
In contrast, the future FE panel which will be installed in Auburn immediately after the certification flights during phase II of the Super Star project is deigned in accordance with today's standards for a modern and safe flight deck layout. Jan Frieben, Head Flight Engineer at the DLBS adds: "Limitations can now be seen just by glancing at the instruments. You see straight away whether or not everything is as it should be."
The DLBS Flight Operations experts scrutinized and revised the position of each switch and inscription. This evolutionary process involving many years at the drawing board and in the mock-up led not only to the new panel but also to the new checklists. Jan Frieben explains: "The expertise of the former Lufthansa Super Start flight engineer Klaus Reinstorp was a big help. The experience he gained from flying several thousand hours with this aircraft model in the 50s and 60s is priceless."
Even if the flight engineer panel will look different in the future, the instruments will essentially be the same. One new feature, however, is the Engine Graphic Monitoring Panel. Each cylinder is now analyzed individually, and the exhaust gas and cylinder head temperatures are monitored. Kohne says: "You can see at a glance whether the figures are similar or there are deviations. In this case, you know that a problem is imminent. With a total of 72 cylinders, this is a very helpful display!"
The new flight engineer panel will be installed at the latest before the aircraft is moved to Europe and the Super Star begins commercial operation for the DLBS. Kohne says: "The changes are not an end in themselves. In design terms, the Super Star is already more demanding than any other aircraft we fly with Lufthansa today. The performance reserves too are much lower than with current aircraft types. Crew resource management is therefore very demanding and we need to create an environment in which working errors are avoided from the outset. This means that human factors are just as important for ensuring that the Super Star flies safely as a technically sound aircraft."