Approaches,  Traps, VNAV and other problems.

As some of you will know I have been conducting a review of the Universal documentation in order to better understand  the issues arising out of VNAV. Some of our operators use it and some forbid it.
Horizon, Porter and Air Berlin make use of it in all aspects, I am told. Flybee do not, Tyrolean do not. Some of the issues may be related to history,  to software load, configuration  and hardware variations.  I am attempting to get better documentation in that regard.

What is clear is that we do not fully understand how to use the FMS ourselves, and that is because Universal do not have accurate clear concise documentation on how their system works and their training program reflects these issues. We have a limited SOP based on our limited understanding. The purpose of this paper is to open a dialog in order that we may all come to a better understanding.

Universal provide two documents. They are the Operators Training Manual and the FMS Operators Manual. The Operators manual is a generic document covering numerous variants. Universal advise it is not intended to be detail specific. It is the document carried on board the aircraft.  It is, as they say, misleading in some areas. The Training Manual is undated, ever changing,  poorly organized, appears to be unedited, grows by "topsie", and wrong.

I have, with Harlan's help, been corresponding with Bob Bruce of Universal trying to get agreement on operating specifics and have had some success. Dave Killin and I have been filming some of the issues. We hope to be able to confirm some of the operating specifics in the simulator as I understand the simulator uses a Universal box,  the only aspect simulated is the positioning. Adam at FSI  has  been involved as has Bruce Ofstun at Horizon..

I have taken the bulk of the training document and reorganized it into a 'sequence of flight' format, editing out the superfluous, redundant, repetitive and non related 400 material. It is presented as a web based hyper linked document in a numbered table format. I have added photos from the 400 where necessary- they are from the Blackberry and of limited quality - but something is often better than nothing or erratum. It is a work in progress - any input is appreciated. A listing of the FMS displayed Messages and Annunciators  and the VNAV error messages-will be extracted along with some reboot material and added to the Caution/Advisory/Reboot review. 

The issues with the FMS come into clear focus when employing VNAV in approach and is this in this area I will concentrate.

Fundamentaly there are some 5 means of arriving at an airport within the FMS. They are:
1) Enroute Nav. function which may or may not employ a VNAV /v path function,
2) Approach Nav.  with VS /Alt sel Function without VNAV/v path reference.
3) Approach Nav.  with VS/Alt sel function with reference to  VNAV  v path.
4) Approach Nav. /VNAV
5) Approach Nav. / Pseudo glidepath.