Difference between revisions of "Howto:Carrier Landing"

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* The [[Grumman_F-14_Tomcat#Approach_Power_Compensator_.28APC.29|Approach Power Compensator]] (APC) will not disengage if you move the throttle. due to the lag in the system you have to find out yourself, whether it helps you or not (and it might take many attempts to find out, because only when you are doing stuff consistently right, then you will be able to know the difference).
 
* The [[Grumman_F-14_Tomcat#Approach_Power_Compensator_.28APC.29|Approach Power Compensator]] (APC) will not disengage if you move the throttle. due to the lag in the system you have to find out yourself, whether it helps you or not (and it might take many attempts to find out, because only when you are doing stuff consistently right, then you will be able to know the difference).
 
* The Direct Lift Control (DLC) system is not modelled, so you need to use the throttle even for smaller adjustments.  [http://www.bobistheoilguy.com/forums/ubbthreads.php/topics/3867303/Re:_F-14_Questions_Answered_-_#Post3867303 Real pilot's description of the use of DLC]
 
* The Direct Lift Control (DLC) system is not modelled, so you need to use the throttle even for smaller adjustments.  [http://www.bobistheoilguy.com/forums/ubbthreads.php/topics/3867303/Re:_F-14_Questions_Answered_-_#Post3867303 Real pilot's description of the use of DLC]
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== The Landing Procedure ==
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The carrier landing procedure is described in chapter 8.5 in NATOPS (around page 383 in the pdf). Especially figure 8.3 is core (remark that the top of the figure states a maximum landing gross weight of 54000 pounds).
  
 
== Tips and Tricks ==
 
== Tips and Tricks ==

Revision as of 01:25, 8 September 2018

Landing a Military Jet on a Carrier Tutorial by Example: The Grumman F-14B Tomcat

The content of this page is meant to guide virtual pilots of military jets on how to land safely and consistently on an Aircraft_carrier. The content of this guide is to a large extent specific to the mighty Grumman_F-14_Tomcat in FlightGear. However many tips and techniques can be used for piloting other 4th generation naval fighters (especially NATO / American like the McDonnell_Douglas_F/A-18_Hornet).

It is Difficult

Landing a jet fighter on a moving carrier again and again is simply difficult and requires many (dozens) of hours of virtual training. Real naval pilots have hundreds of landings on airports and hundreds of hours of training on the aircraft type plus significant simulator training before they are allowed to make an attempt on the real thing.

When you get the hang of it (and you will) and enjoy flying according to procedures, you will find your training time very rewarding. When it gets too easy, just chose bad weather, night time, different weapons/fuel load and you will get challenged further.

Disclaimer and Credits

  • The author is only a hobby virtual pilot.
  • Not everything written here is according to real life.
  • Keyboard shortcuts and pictures are based on the FlightGear F-14B as of summer 2018.

NATOPS

The basic source of truth and detailed procedures is the Naval Air Systems Command 01-F14AAP-1 "NATOPS FLIGHT MANUAL NAVY MODEL F-14B AIRCRAFT", which is a nearly 1000 pages pdf manual available on the internet.

For an overview of all the stuff happening on an aircraft carrier, have a look at modern united states navy carrier air operations.

Related FlightGear Wiki Articles

Related Resources for the DCS F/A-18 Hornet

Additionally I found the following resources / videos very informative, even though they mostly relate to the DCS F/A-18C Hornet:

  • [1] - F/A-18 Pilot Gives Virtual Flyers Highly Detailed Explanation Of How To Land On A Carrier
  • [2] - YouTube video "DCS F/A-18C Basic Carrier Operations tutorial"
  • [3] - YouTube video "DCS World - F/A-18 - Case I Carrier Recovery Tutorial"
  • [4] - Chuck's DCS F/A-18C Hornet Guide (from around page 90)

Difference Between the Tomcat and the Hornet

There are three main differences between landing the F-14 Tomcat and the F/A-18 Hornet on an aircraft carrier:

  • The Tomcat is flown with an angle of attack (AoA) of ca. 15 units, which is nearly double that of the Hornet.
  • The allowable gross aircraft weight at landing of the Tomcat is much larger than the Hornet
  • You do not retract the speed brake after having extended it during the level break in the Tomcat, but you do when flying the Hornet. You first retract the speed brake after landing on the carrier in the Tomcat (they retract automatically if afterburner is used).

Systems References in the Real Tomcat and the FlightGear Tomcat

"NATOPS" refers to the reference described above. It is assumed that the reader is acquainted to the Grumman_F-14_Tomcat wiki page.

The Angle of Attack System

The system is specified in chapter 2.33 in NATOPS. Things to remember:

  • AoA is not the same as pitch. The aircraft's nose can point to horizon and still the AoA units can be significant. See e.g. angle of attack on Wikipedia.
  • Figure 2.83 in NATOPS has the conversion chart between indicated AoA and indicated air speed for different weights. E.g. 15 units with a gross weight of 50 000 pounds corresponds to 130 kt with DLC and 123 kt without DLC. In menu Tomcat Controls/Fuels and Stores you can see the gross weight and from there deduct the needed air speed (given the ideal AoA of 15 units is fixed).
  • The AoA indicator has the climb reference marker is set at 5.0 units, cruise marker at 8.5 units, and the stall warning marker at 29 units.
  • Figure 2.84 in NATOPS shows the relation between the indexer lights, the AoA units and air speed. Similar information is in [[5]].

Differences in Flight Control Help

  • The Approach Power Compensator (APC) will not disengage if you move the throttle. due to the lag in the system you have to find out yourself, whether it helps you or not (and it might take many attempts to find out, because only when you are doing stuff consistently right, then you will be able to know the difference).
  • The Direct Lift Control (DLC) system is not modelled, so you need to use the throttle even for smaller adjustments. Real pilot's description of the use of DLC

The Landing Procedure

The carrier landing procedure is described in chapter 8.5 in NATOPS (around page 383 in the pdf). Especially figure 8.3 is core (remark that the top of the figure states a maximum landing gross weight of 54000 pounds).

Tips and Tricks

  • Start with flying the plane in clean configuration (not missiles/bombs) and 7k of fuel. Once you get better, then you can add load.
  • The aircraft should be trimmed based on the AoA indexer. It might help to configure the trim button on the joystick such that you can see the value like
    controls.elevatorTrim(2.0); gui.popupTip(sprintf("Elevator-trim: %.3f", getprop("/controls/flight/elevator-trim")));
    . Memorize the values which correspond to 10 degrees for takeoff and 15 units AoA at speed.
  • Come in as slow as you can whilst maintaining good control. Maintaining on-speed is difficult.
  • With full flaps and at on-speed AoA, the aircraft will want to descend very steeply. Increase throttle proactively as you add flaps, or you will pancake.
  • Just before you bank increase the throttle a bit, as you anticipate less lift from the wings in a turn. Similarly: just before you level out decrease the throttle a bit, as you will get less lift.
  • Do not flare before touch down. Fly the plane in a constant vector of descent into the flight deck. The carriage is constructed such that it can absorb the shock.
  • If you believe you have flown the perfect landing and should have caught the wire, but it was not picked up, then it might be that your AoA was changed. If your AoA on touchdown is to low (did you flare?), then the tail hook will slide over the cable. If your AoA was too high (did you loose confidence and pitched up in the last moment?), then the hook might bounce off the flight deck because it is absorbing the shock before the main gear does.
  • Pitching up to try to stop a too fast decent when you are on the right AoA will not help, as the additional lift is negligible or even negative. Increase the throttle.
  • When and while you turn, you need to actively push the nose down, such that a level turn is possible (even though the AoA might be reduced). Otherwise you will gain height and loose speed rapidly.
  • Especially at low speed you need to use the rudder pedals to coordinate the turn because of high alpha. The bank indicator in the HUD has a turn slip indication - if the triangle is torn apart, then you need to push the pedals in the direction of the lower part of the triangle.
  • If you watch a video with cockpit view of a carrier landing, you will see that the throttle is moved constantly and the stick is not only moved laterally (roll/yaw), but also pitch is constantly adapted. But if pitch is trimmed, why so? Because you might need to dampen the pitch changes due to thrust changes (and the thrust changes constantly).
  • Know the necessary key bindings by heart and consider setting stuff on your HOTAS. You need [controls], [flight controls] and [carrier ops].