REVIEW of _FMC User's Guide_

From: (Robert Dorsett)
Date:         17 Dec 92 03:35:17 PST
Followups:    1
Next article
View raw article
  or MIME structure

Title: FMC User's Guide: Advanced Guide to the Flight Management Computer

Author: Bill Bulfer

Published by:

	Bill Bulfer
	Technical Publications
	2031 River Falls Drive
	Kingwood, TX  77339

Cost: $40.  Optional update service, $12.

Pages: ~200; extensive illustrations.  It is designed to be carried in a 
flight bag, printed on "half-pages," in a flexible, compact, three-ring 


The Flight Management System is the "heart" of modern transport operations.
It is the core of navigation functionality and automatic flight control,
and permits a flight to be flown very economically.  Despite its overall
usefulness, standard interfaces leave something to be desired: consequently,
a high proportion of training time is currently dedicated to the FMS, at the
inevitable expense of other systems.  There is evidence this training is 
somewhat lacking, with hands-on time limited.  This means that "real 
learning" occurs in-flight, on the job.  This is not a desirable situation, 
since it increases heads-down operations, thus decreasing the situational 
awareness of the pilot(s).

The author, a Continental 737 pilot, wrote the book (manual, really) in 
an attempt to provide a high-quality, goal-oriented overview of FMS functions, 
as a supplement to airline training programs.  It is a result of his own 
exposure, extensive research, and feedback from the manufacturers.

The book is oriented around the Smiths Industries FMS, in use on the 737, 
but the author explicitly addresses differences and similarities with the 
Honeywell lineage, which is in use on more types of airplanes.

The book is written for pilots, but may also be of interest to researchers
and hard-core airliner enthusiasts.  It is oriented around CDU (control data 
unit) operation, but includes mode control unit notes, where appropriate.  As
indicated, it's heavily goal-oriented, showing precisely what the pilot would
see on various screens, with relevant fields highlighted, as he attempts 
to set up a solution to a given problem.

An update service is available, on a yearly basis, for a nominal fee.  
Bulfer plans on issuing updates about every six months: the current update 
is about 80 pages.  He's also working on a "final exam," to go with the 

My main gripe is that, although the book is based on laser-printed originals, 
his printing service seems to have scaled the originals to fit on the pages.  
Consequently, some thin lines, such as boxes surrounding notes, look somewhat 
odd, with varying print intensity along the line.  Otherwise, the type and 
illustrations look fine.

I heartily recommend this book for anyone seriously interested in the 
intricacies of FMS operation.  It is one of the best pilot-oriented 
technical publications I've ever seen.

Disclaimer: I have no financial connection with or interest in this project; 
I'm just a very satisfied customer.  I received my copy in September, and
have been working through it (slowly :-)) since then.

Robert Dorsett!!rdd