Most advanced autopilots with a guidance panel allow you to select an altitude and fly to it. It will often switch over to an altitude hold mode if the airplane is close enough to the selected altitude and the flight conditions like current vertical speed are right. My question is about how vigilant the pilot has to be to prevent this altitude capture from happening at the wrong moment.
The Garmin G1000 manual describes the behavior like this:
As the aircraft nears the Selected Altitude, the flight director automatically transitions to Selected Altitude Capture Mode with Altitude Hold Mode armed (Figure 6-7). This automatic transition is indicated by the green ‘ALTS’ annunciation flashing...
At 50 ft from the Selected Altitude, the flight director automatically transitions from Selected Altitude Capture to Altitude Hold Mode and holds the Selected Altitude (shown as the Altitude Reference).
However, this preselected altitude stays on as the flight proceeds, including during most mode changes. There are some mode changes where this old altitude could cause problems if it initiates an altitude capture, like a transition to a go-around mode or an approach mode. (For an example, see "A Sea Level State Of Mind" in this newsletter). The autopilot would try to reach the old altitude once conditions are right (which may require turbulence or other conditions to make the AP think it's trying to fly to the preslected altitude). The plane would be doing what the pilot previously had told it to do, not what he was directing the plane to do at the moment.
From a human factors perspective, having the autopilot follow the old altitude target in a problematic scenario would make the system easier to understand, but would require more mental work from the pilot to maintain mode awareness. Under certain conditions this altitude capture could potentially create a safety issue if the autopilot doesn't otherwise mitigate the sudden motion in an unintended direction.
Having seen a case where the pilot asked "why is that happening" then realized he had mis-managed his altitude selector, I'm wondering about how smart the autopilot is and what the procedures are for managing the altitude selector. Does the pilot usually expect the autopilot or flight director to ignore or clear the preselected altitude when necessary, or does he have to carefully manage the altitude selected to avoid an unintended maneuver?
EDIT: I'm asking if there are any safety features for altitude capture (like not allowing altitude capture while in glideslope mode) or checklist/procedures related to altitude capture. If you think there aren't any of those and that the pilot takes full responsibility for any unintended altitude captures, please answer why you think so.