ACLS Landings

So the Tomcat has an Automatic Carrier Landing System mode. Anyone tried it yet? About to give it a go.

Here’s the best summary I found of the steps to activate it:

Jester - datalink to host - carrier

Gear, flaps, and hook down

Autopilot on

ACLS autopilot switch down

Auto-throttle on

Line up center and when you are close enough. Hit the nose wheel steering button to engage auto-3-wire-2000.

AFCS Panel here for autopilot switches:

The manual description of the Autopilot modes:

Auto throttle settings:


Btw, I’m finding landings are ok in the Tomcat. It seems pretty stable in the groove, and the only thing I tend to muck up is on the finals turn where I either don’t use some rudder (spoilt Hornet person) or I just don’t actually fly the aircraft enough, i.e. move that stick. I also try not to trim too much when turning, or rather less trim inputs than the Hornet and its whizz-bang computers.

I’ve also found that the E-bracket is sort of slow to catch up, and that the Flight Path Marker is not to be ignored, but sort of just used for some guidance. In good weather is just seems better to hit the numbers and AOA and do it manually by looking - those big wings help out for stability. I am still rocking the throttle a bit to keep glidepath rather than using the Direct Lift Control wheel, but I just need to practice with that more.

Until I get more used to it I am just doing really ugly CASE 1, with an eternity in the groove. This ACLS stuff could be handy for CASE 3 stuff in awful weather I guess…


Back in the 1980s I recall that ACLS was used full auto landing only once by an A-6E, to certify the system.

That said, flying the “needles” in CASE-3 recoveries was SOP…when the inbound aircraft was next to land he would get a “Say Needles” call. The answer would be something like “Fly Up; Fly Right” - whatever the needles are currently saying.

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