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.

Not to necro an old post, but I did my first full ACLS landing last night in FtB. It was night and I have a track record of a 3:1 bolter:recovery ratio at night in the A, and just didn’t feel like doing that. I knew the steps to do the ACLS, so I tried it.

It was awesome, quite a ride! It did result in a 1-wire though. :flushed: But it’s the computers fault, right CAG?


Nice. I haven’t flown a Tomcat ACLS in a while. There were some hefty updates to the Tomcat recently. Is the ACLS 1 dot low approach fixed? I recall that resulting in a constant 1 or 2 wire.

I have no idea, but that might explain it.

I set up per what I believe the RL procedure would be, where the VDI set to ACL, and the HUD on ILS. They both seemed to match needles.

What I noticed was where I was flying with my fingertips and tiny corrections to track the LOC/GP, when I hit the NWS/AP Ref button to lock on, the AFCS seemed to be rather ham fisted, larger stick movement and more deviation. Then we hit the burble and went a little low and never really got back centered on GP. I even tried to help a bit with the DLC at the last second, but didn’t make a difference.

Reminded me of some of the older crappy AP’s I’ve flown, it was a pretty fun ride. I’ll have to try it again and see if that is a consistent outcome or not. It didn’t seem unrealistic considering winds, burble, and sea state at the time. I felt lucky that it caught the wire at all.