canberra wrote: Back in the early eighties Boeing brought out the 757 and 767 which fly at around 40000feet. Why does the Airbus family fly lower??????
My understanding is that it will all come down to fuel consumption. Someone, something, somewhere calculates the optimum flight envelope for a given aircraft type on a given route to use minimum fuel. And that is what they will fly to if at all possible. I'm not sure getting up in the 40'000 feet plus is fuel efficient for the latest high bypass turbofans.
Optimum cruise level is precalculated by ops before departure; the crew simply pick up the printout when they report there.
What people probably don't know is how long you're flying on autopilot.
I did an ATCO Familiarisation flight Gatwick - Palma and return on an A320 with Air 2000, riding in the jump seat (if they'd allocated me a seat in the cabin, they would have lost money 'cos they would normally be able to sell that seat to a standby).
On takeoff, the captain handled the 'thrust levers' (as they seem to be called nowadays) and first officer called the speeds. A V1, captain takes right hand off the thrust levers and places it on his lap.
A Vr, he pulls back on the sidestick, then removes his hand from that and places it on his lap.
He didn't touch the sidestick again until short final at Palma; the autopilot calls out '500ft', then 'decision height' then at about 50ft, 'retard, retard' which is when the captain put his hand back on the sidestick and 'flared'.
canberra wrote: I must admit that I was under the impression that when the handling pilot sees the runway they then take control over from the autopilot, or does that differ depending on each individual airline?
Its obviously up to each arline to decide but I think the way I described is the way Airbus Industrie meant it ro be done.