Speedbrakes are used to increase drag. On the Boeing we're not supposed to use them in conjunction with flap extension. On the Airbus, flaps and speed brakes are a standard event.
When ATC keeps us high and fast in the Boeing, it's more of a challenge to get her down and slowed. If memory serves me correctly, the B757 presented the greatest challenge of all to slow down and go down. In the Boeing, if we needed speedbrakes-- that was to fix the "pilots" mistake. We should plan better. With the high level of traffic today, there are many approaches that all the planning in the world won't help if ATC is managing your speed and altitude-- fast and high.
On the Airbus A330 we can use speedbrakes with full flaps. System logic says we could use them all the way to landing if we wanted to, but landing with them is not recommended.
When speedbrakes are used, a SPEED BRK messages appears in the memo to inform the pilots they're extended. This message changes to Amber if the power is above idle for more than 50 seconds. Why? We don't want power and speedbrakes. The reason we're using them is to increase drag. If our airplane is increasing thrust, she's telling us that she doesn't want drag -- she needs power.
If we don't listen to her and the 50-second memo remains illuminated for more than 30 seconds, OR we are below 800 feet AGL more than 5 seconds-- a new message appears:
FCTL SPD BRK STILL OUT
Either of these situations is not good. We're not managing our plane correctly. We've forgotten the speedbrakes are out. We're in an unstabilized approach close to the ground.
We know that ATC will keep us high and fast at certain airports. On the Airbus we have tools available, including speedbrakes with gear and flaps extended, to slow her down.
- If you're using speedbrakes during approach, a busy time, keep your hand on the lever so you don't forget to retract them.
- Anytime you're on approach and hear "Terrain! Terrain!" and the aircraft is not performing as it should your hand should automatically go to the speedbrake lever and make sure it's forward. You may be too busy looking outside to notice the memo message.
- Anytime you perform a go-around due to an unstabilized approach, confirm your speedbrakes are forward. (You more than likely were using them.)
Know your plane. Follow procedures. Establish habit patterns of safety.
Enjoy the Journey~