Jump to content

KC-46A Info


Hammer

Recommended Posts

Another thought/data point to consider in this discussion: 
Years ago, there was great fanfare in the bizjet community as many manufacturers designed and certified some of their less complex aircraft for single pilot ops. Today, the number of these aircraft that are actually operated single pilot is exceedingly small. Why? It’s often impossible or prohibitively expensive to get insurance for such operations. Why is single pilot so hard to insure? Because the safety record is fukkking abysmal. And that’s for relatively simple aircraft that were expressly designed to be operated by a single pilot on relatively short A-B legs. Now, take an inexperienced kid who probably wasn’t at the top of his UPT class, put him in a 767, and ask him to do a complex mission that may last upwards of 10 hours and involve receiver refueling ops, a combat zone, coordination of dozens of receivers, bad weather, night, and systems degradation and/or emergencies. Sound smart to anyone here? This dumb idea has got to be somewhere in the top ten epically dumb ideas of all time. But hey, someone’s probably hoping for another star on this one, so what the hell, why the not? Not that guy’s ass on the line. In fact, I’ll bet a hundred bucks that the brass that’s pushing this garbage will be the first in line demanding heads on a platter when guys inevitably start bending metal. EPICALLY. STUPID. IDEA. 


I don’t know how to fly without an FE to get the lights and speed brakes.
  • Haha 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

6 hours ago, Prozac said:

Honest question: What’s the safety record of communities that fly single pilot hard IFR look like vs the heavy communities? 

Related: what’s the cost (monetary, lives, collateral damage) of putting, say, an F-16 in the dirt vs. a large transport category aircraft?
 

Also related: Would the single seat communities ever consider ditching their chutes and pinning their seats for the duration of any flight? 
 

Also, also related: How often do single seat guys fly single ship, without mutual support? Ever have lead set your shit straight when you were a clueless wingman & used up all your brain cells trying to walk and chew gum? That’s the AC’s role in a big airplane. 

I also fly big airplanes, so I’m not completely clueless. We’re also talking about a single pilot shooting an approach to Guam, etc. in combat. It’s not DL69 with 169 pax and absolutely zero mission to accomplish. Let’s not pretend they’re the same thing. 

And to your jab at the fighter community, it’s true admin kills guys, but it’s also true probably tens of thousands of precision approaches are flown for every guy who killed himself trying to fly an ILS. 

I think it’s what you know, and a lot of heavies-from-the-start guys sell their’s and their bro’s capabilities short, because, well, that’s just how it’s always been…

 

Edit: To be clear, I’m not supporting this whole idea being discussed, but I am pointing out there are some things that are overblown…such as one man being able to fly an ILS and put his own gear down.

Edited by brabus
  • Upvote 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

45 minutes ago, brabus said:

 

I think it’s what you know, and a lot of heavies-from-the-start guys sell their’s and their bro’s capabilities short, because, well, that’s just how it’s always been…

This X 1000. I flew Draco with tons of folks from T-38 and T-1 backgrounds. There were bunches of T-1 folks that had the hands, SA, and fighting spirit to do single pilot employment. I know that these 46 dudes could handle this and it’s not the death sentence it’s being made out to be.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, Danger41 said:

This X 1000. I flew Draco with tons of folks from T-38 and T-1 backgrounds. There were bunches of T-1 folks that had the hands, SA, and fighting spirit to do single pilot employment. I know that these 46 dudes could handle this and it’s not the death sentence it’s being made out to be.

No one is arguing that it's a death sentence or that it's impossible to do.   I have 100% confidence I could hand fly a kc-46 ILS to a safe landing, alone, after probably one familiarization sim. That is not the point. 
 

The first point is the 46 was never designed with a single pilot in mind. To my knowledge the u-2, and all the jets draco flies were. So that's not a valid counterexample. 
 

But the larger point here is that CRM improvements in large crewed aircraft have done wonders for safety over the last 50-100 years, to the point that there hasn't been a hull loss for a major American airline in almost 2 decades. But we are about to throw that down the drain to solve a problem that doesn't exist. On top of that, we are talking about a ~$300 million strategic asset, of which we only have around 50 currently built.  How many mishaps can we afford?

 My worry is not these one-off experimental flights and whether or not the concept is possible. Of course it's possible. But now that the single pilot ops precedent has been set, it's only a matter of time before it becomes normalized, then expected, then mandated so generals can green up their manning slides.  And when we start flying like this regularly, the accidents will follow. 
 

It's funny the people that actually buy the war contingency line.  Got a bridge to sell you. I'm genuinely trying to concoct a wartime scenario in my head where we are magically super flush on -46 airframes with no one to fly them 🤷🏻‍♂️🤷🏻‍♂️
 

/endrant

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

11 hours ago, Danger41 said:

One thing that has made me chuckle throughout this whole thing is lots of pilots but tons of FE’s, Booms, Loadmasters, etc having story after story of how they saved the pilot flying from crashing etc. Is it really that insane to be flying in AMC? JFC you guys deserve DFC’s on every flight as dangerous as some of you make it sound.

Other folks have mentioned this, but it's all part of the CRM game. Sometimes the boom operator is the most experienced aviator on a crew, watching a newly minted IP talk an MCT copilot down the approach in IMC. That new IP may have kicked some penguins off the iceberg and the crusty boom has plenty of SA to notice a missing checklist step.

Thank goodness the KC-135 doesn't have ergonomics to truly go solo. Could it be done? Sure--I nearly had to AAR upfront by myself once when the other guy was stuck in the lav (damn Deid food). Get me a stick for the anti-ice switches, and we're in business! Moving the gear from the left seat is quite the event though...

  • Haha 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

12 hours ago, Prozac said:

It’s not the fact that the AF wants to operate some missions single pilot. It’s the fact that the AF wants to take an airframe expressly designed to be operated by a crew, and pilots expressly trained to operate in a crew environment and throw caution to the wind. And when General Numbnuts inevitably touts how successful and great his program is (and he will, regardless of how this thing goes down), airline heads everywhere will sit up and take notice & point to the super successful AF program as they ask the FAA to provide relief from the impending doom of the pilot shortage. Also, there are all sorts of systems designed into tactical single seat aircraft to assist the pilot in maintaining SA. Ever see a HUD baby get into a Dutchess and try to fly a VOR approach on the six pack? It ain’t pretty. Comparing single pilot ops in a fighter vs an airliner is comparing apples and whale dicks. 

100% agree with you, but it doesn’t help when the 46 Squadron patch openly proclaims that if an F-16 pilot can do it, he can do it in his 46…yes actual words on an open forum. I’m pretty sure many 46 pilots want this bad as it will tickle their itch that wasn’t scratched after assignment night. 

  • Downvote 6
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I’m pretty sure many 46 pilots want this bad as it will tickle their itch that wasn’t scratched after assignment night. 


This is probably the dumbest sentence of this entire thread.

Are you pretty sure?

How many 46 pilots do you really think are out there that are thinking to themselves “damn, I really wanted fighters…not because they go fast and drop bombs and look cool but because I don’t like flying with another pilot. Maybe AMC will make the KC-46 single pilot and my itch will be tickled and I’ll be a real tanker fighter pilot! Call me Maverick!” You think this is the case?

Or…maybe you’re indicting the whole KC-46 community over the actions of a handful of patches at one specific Active Duty wing at one specific Active Duty base?

If you’re not in the community, you should probably stay in your lane.



Sent from my iPhone using Baseops Network Forums
  • Like 2
  • Thanks 4
  • Upvote 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

9 hours ago, Pooter said:

And when we start flying like this regularly, the accidents will follow. 

This line is what has been said for decades by old fighter guys about the new guys as things changed. Wingman today are expected to do things that “only an experienced 4FL/IP” was capable of doing without fucking it away 15 years ago. Technology and ways of thinking change, and the young guys will perform. Your “old crusty guy” mindset serves as a roadblock to tactical progress; instead, empower the young guys to succeed in ways that was thought “impossible” when you were their age. 
 

Don’t read this the wrong way, the above is a general statement  meant for wide application, it’s not meant to be specific to the wartime single pilot ops scenario. I agree with you overall on that scenario - hard to imagine what problem we’re trying to solve…unless maybe they’re planning on changing the chow hall food contract and know 80% of pilots will be shitting their brains out at any given moment. 

Edited by brabus
  • Upvote 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

20 hours ago, brabus said:

Oh my god, the horror, surely there aren’t tens of thousands of pilots who have done this for decades and are currently doing it now, without any automation at all.  

With the autopilot, no sweat. But flying a heavy ≠ flying a small plane designed for single pilot ops. We saw this often when the fighter guys would transfer to a guard KC-135. Just because the mission is a joke (and it is a very, very easy mission to execute), doesn't mean the plane was. 

 

Maybe the newer ones though? I've never flown the triple or the dreamliner. But a raw navaid approach in a 737 in actual weather would be a real ass kicker. 

  • Upvote 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

2 hours ago, Scooter14 said:

 


This is probably the dumbest sentence of this entire thread.

Are you pretty sure?

How many 46 pilots do you really think are out there that are thinking to themselves “damn, I really wanted fighters…not because they go fast and drop bombs and look cool but because I don’t like flying with another pilot. Maybe AMC will make the KC-46 single pilot and my itch will be tickled and I’ll be a real tanker fighter pilot! Call me Maverick!” You think this is the case?

Or…maybe you’re indicting the whole KC-46 community over the actions of a handful of patches at one specific Active Duty wing at one specific Active Duty base?

If you’re not in the community, you should probably stay in your lane.



Sent from my iPhone using Baseops Network Forums

 

I must I’ve struck a nerve! The wanting to fly fighters comment was tongue in cheek and lord knows my own community has many pilots that have still not gotten over the fact they didn’t get fighters.

No I’m not bashing the entire 46 community, every community has its good dudes and careerists. My point is that these good idea fairies don’t exist in a vacuum at the GO levels. Mini didn’t wake up one day and decide, hey let’s make the 46 single pilot! The community is rightfully figuring out how to make the tactical problem of fuel to fighters in the IPC region work for all players. However, in that path there are bound to be some idiotic ideas. I’m ambivalent to the idea of single pilot if it is a proof of concept for a contingency. Normal ops? I think there are better things the community can focus on. 

As for staying in my lane, I have been deeply involved in AMC’s recent push to enable the FSR fight, an initiative that spans all competencies of AMC. By your logic, everyone on this thread that doesn’t fly the 46 should exit stage left? 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

To reiterate, it's not that it can be done but why the need?  Many airlines practice a pilot incapacitation scenario as part of simulator training (heart attacks in the cockpit are not uncommon in the airlines) and no doubt the KC-46 is capable of fully coupled RNAV RNP type approaches (when I was still in, we only did RNP enroute due to the ARINC database issue but that is another story) so yes it can be done.

However if the AF is serious about this there's a ton of Flight Ops regs that will have to be changed i.e. duty time, pax, hazardous cargo, ICAO restrictions, etc.

Would this apply just to the KC-46 or all multi-engine transport? What about the B-1 and B-52?

I suspect that none of these questions have been thought of in the big puzzle palace and this demo amounted to nothing more than a stunt!

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This insanity goes away with a bit of branding. Whoever called this “single pilot KC-46 ops” should have instead called it “augmented duty period, unaugmented crew operations (ADPUC).” That’s the use case, and people would understand that idea. If you’re launching on a long sortie after a tanker combat turn at a FOS, you can’t magically generate more aircrew, and people would get that. The whole conversation about reducing human risk and running out to jets is just dramatic chaff from clueless people. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

4 hours ago, dream big said:

 I’m pretty sure many 46 pilots want this bad as it will tickle their itch that wasn’t scratched after assignment night. 

download.jpg.05cdc471bb3af5cd92555692e8580630.jpg.92d27a491b570b215374aa9587afb800.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I must I’ve struck a nerve! The wanting to fly fighters comment was tongue in cheek and lord knows my own community has many pilots that have still not gotten over the fact they didn’t get fighters.
No I’m not bashing the entire 46 community, every community has its good dudes and careerists. My point is that these good idea fairies don’t exist in a vacuum at the GO levels. Mini didn’t wake up one day and decide, hey let’s make the 46 single pilot! The community is rightfully figuring out how to make the tactical problem of fuel to fighters in the IPC region work for all players. However, in that path there are bound to be some idiotic ideas. I’m ambivalent to the idea of single pilot if it is a proof of concept for a contingency. Normal ops? I think there are better things the community can focus on. 
As for staying in my lane, I have been deeply involved in AMC’s recent push to enable the FSR fight, an initiative that spans all competencies of AMC. By your logic, everyone on this thread that doesn’t fly the 46 should exit stage left? 


No, I didn’t say that. You are more than entitled to your own opinion, but don’t generalize us all as “fighter pilot wannabes”. That’s all.

And you are correct, the folks at Scott don’t just wake up one day and say “let’s do this”. Like I stated earlier, it’s one specific group at one specific Active Duty base that push these ideas. Some good ones, some bad ones…and some really, really bad ones.


Sent from my iPhone using Baseops Network Forums
  • Upvote 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

This insanity goes away with a bit of branding. Whoever called this “single pilot KC-46 ops” should have instead called it “augmented duty period, unaugmented crew operations (ADPUC).” That’s the use case, and people would understand that idea. If you’re launching on a long sortie after a tanker combat turn at a FOS, you can’t magically generate more aircrew, and people would get that. The whole conversation about reducing human risk and running out to jets is just dramatic chaff from clueless people. 


Shocking to think that AMC rolled out a half baked plan.

Simple communication before rolling this out would have helped immensely, but here we are.


Sent from my iPhone using Baseops Network Forums
Link to comment
Share on other sites

40 minutes ago, Scooter14 said:

 


Shocking to think that AMC rolled out a half baked plan.

Simple communication before rolling this out would have helped immensely, but here we are.


Sent from my iPhone using Baseops Network Forums

 

Scooter knows me.  He would be the first one to endorse pilot/NFO (WSO/CSO/whatever you want to call them in the USAF) up front like we had in the Navy.  Let's go for a ride Scooter....don't worry...I will get that switch for ya so you don't pull your back muscles reaching over here.  I kid....I kid.  

As we all know, it comes down to money.  Nav's are cheaper and faster to produce than pilots.

I saw someone mention EP's before.  I had to pass the same NATOPS as the pilot, attend the same instrument rating school and had to complete the same boldface as a pilot sitting up front.  I did everything except physically fly the jet while guarding handles, pulling levers and flipping switches just like a rated non-flying co-pilot would do, because the Navy trained us like that.  Dual pitch-channel disconnect 10 seconds from crossing the ramp at night, Single engine fires off and above the boat, dual gen failure off the cat at night off of Korea (that one really was bad), "CLARA" approaches to the boat where we had no HUD or functioning autopilot to assist, nugget pilot going out for his first round-robin flight in Japanese airspace (those were always fun...the pilots were basically an ATIS-activated autopilot [no smart a$$ comments Scooter] on those since they just did what I told them to do). I will give you one sea story.  Black as ink night in the Pacific.  I was standing the duty in the ready room, when my roomy PeeWee (NFO) comes in white as a ghost.  I see the XO (05) come in from the flight...white as a ghost.  Didn't speak a word, very unusual.  I cornered PeeWee in our stateroom and asked WTF.  XO got vertigo off the cat as he raised the gear, wasn't looking at his horizon gyro and the plane leveled off and started rolling left.  PeeWee grabbed the stick and righted the aircraft into correct attitude while telling the crew (XO and the two back seaters he had the jet and what he was doing).  Back at the beach a few years later my best friend and I were flying test in the goo one evening and he got the leans way bad.  I saw it and asked if he was OK....he fessed up right away and I took the jet while giving him a verbal on what the aircraft was doing.  Few minutes later after his grey matter gyro caged...he took the jet back and no issue after that. I know plenty of my NFO buddies that pulled the handle while the pilot continued fighting the jet beyond hard-deck or other not so favorable situation.

We were doing front seat pilot/NFO flying before CRM even became the norm.   It works.  

Standing by for wire brushing/return fire.

ATIS

side note:  "CLARA" means the front seat crew can't see the boat after calling the ball at 3/4 mile, but the LSO's on deck can see the aircraft/lights.  Typically their comeback after I state "CLARA" is "Paddles contact, you are XYZ-low-slow-high, continue, left or right for line up...power Power...POWER"...whatever they need to tell us to keep us tracking to the landing area.  I can count on 4 fingers those approaches, and never want to see those again (three were off of Korea/Japan in the Winter, one in the Arabian Gulf).    

  • Like 3
  • Upvote 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

3 hours ago, Lord Ratner said:

Maybe the newer ones though?

My experience is limited to Airbus, but even a basic ILS without automation would not be a big deal for single pilot in a mil application scenario (we’re not talking about getting slam dunked into LGA during shit winter WX). I have no doubt the old steam engine types are a different story. 

I think the mis-branding of this whole thing discussed above is a good way to couch the scenario; this all makes a lot more sense when we’re talking ACE and not necessarily landing at a location with a squadron of bros rested and ready to fly that jet’s next line (e.g. current status quo). In such a scenario, it’s probably a good idea to look at how we can extend crews capability to meet the mission while reducing risk as much as feasible (e.g. single pilot ops during X phase of flight while other dude is racked out). 

  • Like 1
  • Upvote 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

2 hours ago, ATIS said:

He would be the first one to endorse pilot/NFO (WSO/CSO/whatever you want to call them in the USAF) up front like we had in the Navy

don't tell anyone there are 150+ 12R panel navigators that are about to have no job and are stuck in ACC

  • Thanks 2
  • Upvote 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
×
×
  • Create New...