What configuration of autothrottle is required when pilots are landing an Airbus?

Do Airbus pilots normally disengage the Auto Throttle on a manual landing?

Do pilots (Airbus or Boeing) normally prefer a manual landing to a A/P landing?

• Answers the second question. – FreeMan Apr 10 '15 at 0:14
• According to Boeing published flight procedures, A/T is engaged in BEFORE the takeoff procedure and is automatically disconnected 2 seconds after landing. But do Airbus pilots need to manually engage A/T ?And do they disengage on Final approach? – Peter Bourne Apr 10 '15 at 10:40
• A/T, as all other systems, has to be manually engaged, there is no system that "turns itself on" automatically. when they Retard (put the levers to IDLE) A/T is disengaged. – Federico Apr 10 '15 at 12:30

2 Answers

Do Airbus pilots normally disengage the Auto Throttle on a manual landing ?

Depends on what you mean.

During the initial part of the approach, no, they do not deactivate the autothrust (not autothrottle, in this case):

But the autothrust is not designed for landing and just before touchdown there is an automatic callout in the cockpit: Retard. Retard. (it can be heard in this video 4 times).

The callout is needed because of the A/THR inner working: while in SPEED mode it can apply any throttle between 0 and the current throttle lever position; i.e., if for example the throttle is at the 80% setting, the autothrust can apply any throttle between 0% and 80% (based on the required airspeed). At the Retard callout the pilots will move the levers to the IDLE position, effectively deactivating the autothrust:

Most (but absolutely not all) pilots let the aircraft land itself most of the time. I asked a number of different pilots this question (30+ year captain at USAirways, a 3 year FO at Spirit, a 20+ year captain at Delta) and their estimate was that 75% or more of landings were done via auto-pilot. One of these pilots was almost exclusively Boeing, one was almost exclusively Airbus, and the other estimated that his experience was roughly 60% Boeing.

• Weird. I've heard mostly the opposite, that most prefer to hand-fly the landing as much as possible and just use auto-land often enough to stay current or when field conditions require it. – reirab Apr 10 '15 at 5:11
• and most airports don't even have the equipment to do autolandings, so those numbers look exceedingly dubious. Approaches flown on autopilot, yes. Pilots putting in the numbers given by ATC and let the machine steer the aircraft. But final approach and landing has to be hand flown or you're illegal on most runways. – jwenting Apr 10 '15 at 5:42
• This sounds like you're confusing an autopilot-flown instrument approach with auto land. – egid Apr 10 '15 at 5:54
• @jwenting even when an airport has the equipment for CAT II/III ILS approaches, it does not mean it is operating in CAT II/III mode and then you really shouldn't attempt an autoland or this happens: aviation.stackexchange.com/questions/910/… – Bianfable Apr 15 '19 at 8:37
• @Bianfable I never said as much... – jwenting Apr 15 '19 at 8:45