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"We are the protagonists of our stories called life, and there is no limit to how high we can fly."

PHD. MBA. MHS. Type rated on A350, A330, B777, B747-400, B747-200, B757, B767, B737, B727. International Airline Pilot / Author / Speaker. Dedicated to giving the gift of wings to anyone following their dreams. Supporting Aviation Safety through training, writing, and inspiration. Fighting for Aviation Safety and Airline Employee Advocacy. Safety Culture and SMS change agent.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Understanding Airbus Flight Phases Day 1.

Update... we made it to Cyprus...

An A320 flight on Cyprus Airway from AMS to LCA. Coming up... everything you wanted to know about the phases of flight on the A330... and the 320 I supposed.

Unstable approaches and flap overspeeds have occurred worldwide in the A320 and A330 aircraft. All resulting from misunderstanding the operation and use of managed speed in Airbus airplanes. Serious consequences have occurred. So while I'm on my journey in Cyprus, I will be sharing the intricacies of the A330 Flight Phases.

First thing to remember is activating the approach is a memory item, and normally not on any checklist. Why wouldn't something so important be on a checklist?

Airbus and other US operators of A320/330 aircraft do not have it on their checklists because there isn’t anywhere to put it. Descent checklist is too early. Approach checklist is too early if you use the Deceleration Point to auto-activate the Approach phase, or if you fly the plane per design by remaining in the Descent phase until a speed reduction is desired. Placing it on a checklist that is done before the activation leaves “To-go” items, creating the unintended consequence of an uncompleted approach checklist. The Landing checklist is too late.

Before we can understand the impact of activating the approach, it’s important to know the flight phases. Take the following quiz to test your knowledge, and tomorrow I’ll share the answers. Along with a better understanding of the speed system.
  1. What is the major difference between the FMS phases of flight?
  2. How can you tell which is the active flight phase?
  3. When the approach is activated, what is the target speed?
  4. If the target speed is Green Dot, what is the active phase of flight?
  5. How do you shift to the climb phase, from a go-around?
Thanks to the information sent by an A330 Check Airman Bill Palmer, in pursuit of helping to eliminate unstable approaches, I've been privy to share this information with you. I've taken a not so creative license to edit the information for Flight To Success and in hopefully six lessons, you too will know more than the average Airbus pilot.

Live From Cyprus... Enjoy the Journey!

XO Karlene

Flight For Safety update:
92,334 words... six chapters remaining for the first draft


  1. 1.
    - take off perf V1 Vr V2
    - Ascent Routing and Descent
    - Fuel Management
    - engine performance

    2. PFD or TAKEOFF PERF page of the MCDU

    3/4. Green Dot or best desired speed for drag or rate of descent.

    5. I know the answer maybe more complex than this however perhaps entering the cruise alt and desired speed into the PERF INIT page of the MCDU?

  2. Excellent Job! And, since I know you looked at the answers already, I won't re-write them here. But... you are smarter than many Bus Pilots!
    Thanks for your comment!

  3. Thank you so much, Karlene! I am hoping to learn as much as I can as I forsee myself and pray to be on my beloved baby buses A318/19/20 as a future ATP before God willing going for the 777/87 someday. Truly all great aircraft. I look forward to many more training posts and quizzes!!

    1. And one day you will. You know who the best A330 pilots are? Those from the baby bus. The flight segments and daily repetition of the short flights force them to learn the keep studying. One day! And one day maybe I'll be senior enough that that just may be my captain seat. Now...we just need it to come to Seattle.

  4. Karlene, I just wanted to say "hi". Unfortunately my airplane knowledge is very limited, so I won't even try to answer any of those questions :-)

    1. Thanks Angela for the hello! I won't hold you to these questions. Many pilots who fly the plane can't answer them. But now they can.


Thank you for your comment! If your comment doesn't appear immediately, it will after I land. Enjoy the journey!