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CRJ Real World Tips/Techniques

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Hey guys. I am a real world CRJ driver for a US Airline. I've been an avid flight simmer since I was young, and though I don't really fire up the sim anymore, it has helped me tremendously in my flight training and throughout my flying career. The biggest thing I remember is flying the study level sims, and wondering if this is how they do it in the real airplane. It was difficult to find real world tips and techniques on how to fly the planes. So I'm taking the opportunity to give back a little to a community that has helped me out a ton. So with that said...

 

If you guys have any questions about CRJ techniques (Do they do it like this in the real world? Best way to ______, etc), ask them here and I will get back here periodically to answer as many of them as best I can. DISCLAIMER...I do not own this product so I obviously can't offer support for the product and I have no idea what all is and isn't modeled in the sim. I will just do my best to explain how the real plane does it and my personal tips and tricks that I've picked up. And if there are other real world CRJ pilots on here, please chime in and offer your tips and tricks as well!

 

Looking forward to your questions!

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Thanks for posting!  I definitely have a few questions.

  • Any tips on managing airspeed in cruise?  Let's just say I've had a few scares so far.... :) 
  • Do CRJ operators do RNAV / RNP approaches?  If so, how is that handled on the autopilot?  Just NAV + V/S?
  • How / why is the flight director synchronization used?  

Also, not really an operational question - but I'm curious why reverse thrust has to be armed on the CRJ's.  That seems somewhat unique versus other aircraft?

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7 hours ago, imemyself said:

Thanks for posting!  I definitely have a few questions.

Also, not really an operational question - but I'm curious why reverse thrust has to be armed on the CRJ's.  That seems somewhat unique versus other aircraft?

 

i was wondering the same. I then remembered I saw an episode of Air Crash/Mayday where one crash was caused by a reverser being deployed mid flight. Maybe it has something to do with that

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How do you generally manage a descent. Speeds, thrust settings, autopilot modes etc.

 

I've so far only one one full flight, but when It came to descent I used speed mode, Mach .74 then 290kts. Thrust idle.  It seemed to descend really rapidly, with an agressive nose down attitude, yet was still bleeding off speed and couldnt maintain what was set on the mcp. Speed brakes were stowed. 

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Flight Director sync mode is sometimes used if you fly manually with FD on and you want to change speeds or pitch. 

 

I don't know a lot of pilots who use speed mode in descent. It tends to make the pitch oscillate a bit while going through different layers of air. We usually plan for idle descent and regulate rate of descent with V/S. I don't know how accurate the release flight model is but from high flight levels, you could set speed to .79 which should be ~290KIAS on switchover and take a rate of descent of ~3000fpm or even a bit more without bleeding off a whole lot of speed. 

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This could be a great thread. I have one question: when you arrive at the aircraft, is it always "cold and dark?" I know with other sims, there are intermediate panel states like long turn, short turn, etc. 

 

I could see it being completely black for first flight of the day, but I would expect some power/setup already done for successive flights.

 

EDIT: what I'm getting at...I'd like to see the devs implement the ability to save panel states so we can have a more realistic setup. 

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46 minutes ago, adamant365 said:

This could be a great thread. I have one question: when you arrive at the aircraft, is it always "cold and dark?" I know with other sims, there are intermediate panel states like long turn, short turn, etc. 

 

I could see it being completely black for first flight of the day, but I would expect some power/setup already done for successive flights.

 

EDIT: what I'm getting at...I'd like to see the devs implement the ability to save panel states so we can have a more realistic setup. 

 

While I'm in the corporate world now I can probably chime in on this from past experiences. No sir, flight deck is USUALLY (by that I mean like 95% of the time) powered up and ready next crew. VERY seldom have I ever seen a cold airplane unless I beat the rampers out to the plane at an out station (unlikely if they've done their security checks), most of the time mx or rampers will atleast have the external power or APU going while they are cleaning, performing mx.....etc. Also, if you are at an out station the airplane's configuration is how you left it last. Regional ops, atleast in the United States you are rolling 8 hrs a day, the last thing you want to have to deal with is bringing up a cold airplane every leg lol, however for the sim I don't mind it. Hope that helped a little bit.

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1 hour ago, adamant365 said:

This could be a great thread. I have one question: when you arrive at the aircraft, is it always "cold and dark?" I know with other sims, there are intermediate panel states like long turn, short turn, etc. 

 

I could see it being completely black for first flight of the day, but I would expect some power/setup already done for successive flights.

 

EDIT: what I'm getting at...I'd like to see the devs implement the ability to save panel states so we can have a more realistic setup. 

 

We usually leave the airplane in one of a couple different states. 

 

If if its just a turn and we are keeping the airplane, we just run the shutdown procedure:

seat belts off

engines off

fuel pumps off

probes and windshield heat off

hydraulics off

beacon off

nosewheel steering off

transponder standby

 

If the the airplane is doing a very quick turn and the recieving crew is already there, we may leave it in this state too with just a quick word like "hey the APU is running, we didn't secure it"

 

If the airplane is going to sit without a crew for <1 hour:

External power on, APU off, battery master off, recirc fan off, cond air off, emergency lights off, IRS' off. 

 

In this case we are leaving the airplane for >1 hour until the next crew takes it. Or basically the same thing with the external power off too, and disarm the thrust reversers. That will make it go dark.

 

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3 hours ago, Tim.S said:

How do you generally manage a descent. Speeds, thrust settings, autopilot modes etc.

 

I've so far only one one full flight, but when It came to descent I used speed mode, Mach .74 then 290kts. Thrust idle.  It seemed to descend really rapidly, with an agressive nose down attitude, yet was still bleeding off speed and couldnt maintain what was set on the mcp. Speed brakes were stowed. 

 

I'm not sure how it is on the real aircraft, but if you are using SPD mode for descent in the sim , you definitely do not want to bring the power back to idle! First, select a lower altitude on the flight guidance panel. Then, press the SPD button once. Now, slowly start to reduce thrust - (just a little bit at first), until you see the aircraft start to descend, at which time you can pull back power a little more, and descent rate will increase. If you reduce thrust too quickly, the aircraft will lose its ability to maintain your selected speed.

 

I think in R/W operations it is more common to descend in vertical speed mode.

 

Jim Barrett

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Any tips on managing airspeed in cruise?  Let's just say I've had a few scares so far.... 

 

Welcome to the annoying world of CRJ, haha. If it makes you feel any better, there is RARELY a flight where we can just set the power in cruise and it stays locked on the speed we want. In reality, we do have to make small inputs and corrections over the duration of the flight to maintain a certain speed. Once you get up there, though, the power changes needed shouldn't be drastic, just minor corrections. 

 

Quote
  • Do CRJ operators do RNAV / RNP approaches?  If so, how is that handled on the autopilot?  Just NAV + V/S?

 

We do not do RNP approaches at my airline but for RNAV you nailed it. We track the course in NAV and use V/S for the descent.  In the real plane (not sure if it's modeled in the aerosoft or not), if the RNAV approach is loaded in the FMS, you will get a white "snowflake" on the right of your attitude indicator. This is essentially your "rnav glideslode", and you treat the exact same as you would an ILS glideslope. Also, we have the vertical guidance on the top right of our MFD that tells us the exact FPM to descend to stay on the calculated glideslope. So if the Vertical guidance says 800fpm, we dial in an 800fpm descent with the V/S knob. If it then switches to 900fpm, we dial in the V/S knob to 900fpm. This typically isn't a set it an forget it type thing. It's constantly changing about +-100 FPM to hold the glidepath.

 

Also, if you don't want to use all the fancy stuff, you can go old school and use the Groundspeed/Descent rate chart on the approach plate. 

86197-13578.jpg

 

 

BONUS: There are many times where we will use the NAV and V/S method for an ILS as well (as opposed to just using APPR mode). Going into major airports like Chicago, ATC likes to keep the spacing as tight as possible to get as many planes in and out as they can. There have been many times where we've encountered the wake turbulence of a bigger jet in front of us. If we know they are putting us behind one of these planes on the approach, we'll typically want to stay one dot high on the glideslope so we avoid the wake. Since APPR mode can only track the glideslope dead on, we will use V/S mode and keep adjusting it to keep ourselves one dot above the glidepath.

 

 

 

Quote

Also, not really an operational question - but I'm curious why reverse thrust has to be armed on the CRJ's.  That seems somewhat unique versus other aircraft?

 

No clue. It's silly to me too, lol.

 

 

 

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3 hours ago, adamant365 said:

This could be a great thread. I have one question: when you arrive at the aircraft, is it always "cold and dark?" I know with other sims, there are intermediate panel states like long turn, short turn, etc. 

 

I could see it being completely black for first flight of the day, but I would expect some power/setup already done for successive flights.

 

EDIT: what I'm getting at...I'd like to see the devs implement the ability to save panel states so we can have a more realistic setup. 

 

More times than not the aircraft is powered up, whether it's via external power or the APU.  However there are many times where you do have to power it up from cold and dark, like the first flight of the day, or if the last crew was already gone by the time you got there. 

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31 minutes ago, CRJisBAE said:

 

Welcome to the annoying world of CRJ, haha. If it makes you feel any better, there is RARELY a flight where we can just set the power in cruise and it stays locked on the speed we want. In reality, we do have to make small inputs and corrections over the duration of the flight to maintain a certain speed. Once you get up there, though, the power changes needed shouldn't be drastic, just minor corrections. 

 

 

We do not do RNP approaches at my airline but for RNAV you nailed it. We track the course in NAV and use V/S for the descent.  In the real plane (not sure if it's modeled in the aerosoft or not), if the RNAV approach is loaded in the FMS, you will get a white "snowflake" on the right of your attitude indicator. This is essentially your "rnav glideslode", and you treat the exact same as you would an ILS glideslope. Also, we have the vertical guidance on the top right of our MFD that tells us the exact FPM to descend to stay on the calculated glideslope. So if the Vertical guidance says 800fpm, we dial in an 800fpm descent with the V/S knob. If it then switches to 900fpm, we dial in the V/S knob to 900fpm. This typically isn't a set it an forget it type thing. It's constantly changing about +-100 FPM to hold the glidepath.

 

Also, if you don't want to use all the fancy stuff, you can go old school and use the Groundspeed/Descent rate chart on the approach plate. 

86197-13578.jpg

 

 

BONUS: There are many times where we will use the NAV and V/S method for an ILS as well (as opposed to just using APPR mode). Going into major airports like Chicago, ATC likes to keep the spacing as tight as possible to get as many planes in and out as they can. There have been many times where we've encountered the wake turbulence of a bigger jet in front of us. If we know they are putting us behind one of these planes on the approach, we'll typically want to stay one dot high on the glideslope so we avoid the wake. Since APPR mode can only track the glideslope dead on, we will use V/S mode and keep adjusting it to keep ourselves one dot above the glidepath.

 

 

 

 

No clue. It's silly to me too, lol.

 

 

 

Same in the some of the Learjets, have to arm reversers.. Must be a Bombardier thing..

 

 

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5 hours ago, Tim.S said:

How do you generally manage a descent. Speeds, thrust settings, autopilot modes etc.

 

I've so far only one one full flight, but when It came to descent I used speed mode, Mach .74 then 290kts. Thrust idle.  It seemed to descend really rapidly, with an agressive nose down attitude, yet was still bleeding off speed and couldnt maintain what was set on the mcp. Speed brakes were stowed. 

 

Ahhh descent planning. This could be a 50 page thread by itself, lol. For now I'll just hit on what you asked.

 

Our typical decent profile is .77 to 320kts, then 250kts below 10,000. As you can imagine, going into the major airports, we rarely are able to stick with that profile because of altitude/speed restraints on the arrival, or ATC assigned altitudes and speeds.

 

An idle descent where you don't add power until final approach would be the most efficient in any jet, however, this pretty much never happens, once again, because of the restrictions of the arrival or ATC. So the thrust settings are just whatever you need to comply with that you've been assigned.

 

The vast majority of people descend in V/S mode, and just adjust it to maintain the speed that you want to hold. Going into places like Chicago, they typically assign you speeds to hold all the way down to the final appraoch fix (Maintain 300kts....maintain 250kts....maintain 210kts....maintain 180 kts....maintain 170kts until *Insert final approach fix here*). There are times where I don't feel like riding the V/S knob the whole way down the descent so instead I'll just slow to the assigned speed and use SPEED mode to come down. There are no specific thrust settings I use when I do this. If I want a shallow descent, I pull them back a little. The more steep of a descent I want, the more I pull the thrust levers back. As with any descent in the CRJ, make sure you get that power back in once you level off!)

 

A little trick you can do for those times where ATC leaves you way high and dry and you need to get down quickly. 320-330kts (250kts below 10), SPEED mode, thrust idle, speedbrakes full out, then hold on tight (lol). (Again...make sure you stow the speedbrakes and get the power back in on the level off! Otherwise you will experience CRJ fun times!)

 

 

I'm sure we'll get more questions about descent planning as this goes on and we'll cover more of this, but hopefully this gives you a good start.

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Super comments here. I'll contact the most helpful posters here and offer them some freebies. But as reader you can also do something. Click those up arrows to show your appreciation.

2017-08-02_20-17-53.png

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There is also a neat feature in the aerosoft CRJ for monitoring the appropriate V/S to next waypoint during descent. (Not talking about vnav advisory snoeflake or blue dot on the VSI)

 

VNAV > VNAV DES and then press LSK 6L, can't remember exactly what the page is called since I am not at my computer.

 

This works very well for me - who prefers V/S descents :)

(Not a rw CRJ driver off course)

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2 hours ago, Mathijs Kok said:

I think we'll insert a 'turn around' mode into Dave, will discuss that with Hans.

I'm thinking that we can save any state in the fms with the save state option.

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I think the thrust arming switches were inherited the original Challenger 600-series business jet that the CRJ descends from. The Challenger in turn was originally a Learjet concept aircraft before Canadair took over the project.

 

Lear used arming switches for the T/Rs on some of their other bizjets, so the blame probably ultimately lies with them![emoji3]

 

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Great replies to my aircraft state questions (upvotes given). I do see there is variation in the power state of the aircraft but pretty much if it's not first flight of the day, the aircraft is at some state of being "alive."

 

And @Mathijs Kok...great service there. I like how you, Hans, etc., always at least consider requests for enhancements...unless of course they're absurd requests. :lol:

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What about the AP speed mode? Some people here are complaining about the roughness of this mode in the Aerosoft CRJ (I never meet this case) but I remember a post where real crj-200 pilots said that this mode can be crazy if you increase/decrease the target spped too much?

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4 hours ago, Mathijs Kok said:

I think we'll insert a 'turn around' mode into Dave, will discuss that with Hans.

This would be awesome.  I know that for whatever reason, most of the world here seems to prefer cold and dark.  But, anyone that's been around here long enough knows that that is just not the state that a pilot sees the aircraft in for most, if not all, of their day to day job.  So, a normal turn state would be very much appreciated!!!

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1 hour ago, blahhh said:

What about the AP speed mode? Some people here are complaining about the roughness of this mode in the Aerosoft CRJ (I never meet this case) but I remember a post where real crj-200 pilots said that this mode can be crazy if you increase/decrease the target spped too much?

 

It's fairly smooth honestly, I have never seen it do anything crazy even going from V2+12 to 290kts. The 'crazy' stuff could be something in DES mode, if you have set a speed that is too low to reach in your current configuration (so basically, where a B737 or so would give you the message DRAG REQUIRED) the CRJ will enter a pitch hold submode. Some pilots may not be aware of this if they rarely use it.

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