Aviation Investigation Report A98H0003

1.6.6  Flight Management System (STI1-6)

The FMS is used for flight planning, navigation, performance management, aircraft guidance and flight progress monitoring. The FMS provides a means for the flight crew to select various flight control modes via the FCP, and the means to enter flight plans and other flight data via the multifunction control display unit (MCDU) (see Figure 11). Flight progress is monitored through the MCDU and the EIS.

After data entry by the flight crew, the FMCs will generate a flight path profile; for example, from the origin airport to the destination airport. The FMC then guides the aircraft along that profile by providing roll commands, mode requests, speed and altitude targets, and pitch commands (while "on path" during descent) to the FCCs.

The FMC navigation database includes most of the information that is available to pilots from navigation charts and approach charts. The flight plan that was entered into the FMS before departure from JFK airport in New York did not include the Halifax International Airport. Therefore, when the pilots decided to divert and land at the Halifax airport, some reprogramming of the FMS would have been required. Before the pilots could select an instrument approach from the FMC database, the new destination of Halifax would have to be programmed into the FMS.

The MD-11 is not certified to conduct back-course approaches using the FMS. The FMS will prevent the display and selection of back-course approaches from the navigation database.[27] Conventional navigation and approach methods are available to the flight crew.

[27]    Back-course localizer instrument approaches are referred to as backbeam approaches in Swissair manuals and lexicon.

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