Real Answers from Real Pilots

Class II ILS

My Google skills have failed me for some reason so I’m here at the horse’s mouth. I watched a video the other day about a FO doing a Cat2 ILS approach. He said that it is standard practice to have the FO fly the approach all the way to minimums and the CPT take over once they have a visual (with the FO keeping controls for the go-around.)

It just confuses me why there would be an intentional change of control at that stage. My personal logic says that there is no good reason to swap controls as th FO is perfectly capable to land. Everything else makes sense except for that.

What am I missing?

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Chris,

The theory is that the FO flies the airplane strictly off of instruments while the Captain is looking outside. At any point if the Captain sees the runway, he will execute the landing as he has already been looking outside. If the runway is never seen, the FO executes a go-around.

Most airlines have moved away from this approach and now have the captain fly the whole procedure, especially since the landing is usually performed via autoland in these situations.

That does help a bit. Are there other types of the flight that are usually flown by one pilot or the other? Is it just the discretion of the CPT maybe?

Chris,

Everything is always at the discretion of the Captain, if he or she wanted to fly every single leg, they could. That being said, we generally alternate every other leg. The only exceptions to this are low visibility approaches, certain airports that require the captain to fly because of short runways, terrain, etc, and certain weather conditions such as high crosswinds (especially if the FO is low time in the airplane). But the vast majority of the time, you will alternate legs.

Chris