This one is simple: is there a system that automatically adjusts things such as:

  • Mixture (I Am bored of listening for engine sounds)
  • Prop Pitch (I Hate auto adjusting "gears")

So I can only spend time adjusting throttle ?

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    $\begingroup$ Some aircraft do this, like the diamond DA40, but I don't know of any helicopter that does. $\endgroup$ – Ron Beyer Nov 18 '17 at 21:37
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    $\begingroup$ Piston engines can be equipped with ACFPs (altitude compensating fuel pumps) that autolean if they are rigged correctly. the A36's IO-550 has an ACFP, for example. $\endgroup$ – acpilot Nov 18 '17 at 21:50

There sure is but it is generally independent of what is traditionally considered a "glass cockpit" and is often wrapped up under the FADEC system. One of the earlier production designs for this found its way into the Mooney M20PFM which was a Porsche Powered Mooney that had an electronically inject 3.2L Porsche car motor in it. Most importantly it had "single lever operation" where the throttle, prop, and mixture were all wrapped into one lever. For a variety of reasons the plane was ultimately a failure and I do not belive any are still flying with the Porsche motor.

As Ron mentions in the comments some of the Diamond's like the DA42 are set up this way.

So I can only spend time adjusting throttle?

This is perhaps the more important part of the question. Perhaps one of the main reasons that planes are set up with the throttle, prop and mixture adjusts is to allow for fine control. Automatic control systems generally operate in the most "efficient" range but as a pilot you may wish to operate in other ranges, run lean of peak or cruise at a very slow but efficient burn. Your POH will give you all the relevant information to operate your plane in all sorts of ways.

  • $\begingroup$ The Diamond demonstrates that the single thrust lever is all you really need. Are you sure all those adjusting levers are not just a leftover from the olden days? $\endgroup$ – Koyovis Nov 19 '17 at 2:12

The BMW 801 had such a thing, essentially a mechanical/hydraulic analog computer which allowed to automatically adjust prop pitch, mixture, supercharger settings and ignition timing, all with a single lever in the cockpit.

It was designed by Heinrich Leibach and so complex that it was said only a handful of experts truly understood how it worked. It was called Kommandogerät and Wikipedia writes it

could be considered to be a precursor to the engine control units used for many vehicles' internal combustion engines of the late 20th and early 21st centuries.

BMW Kommandogerät

BMW Kommandogerät (picture source)

Internal workings of the Kommandogerät (source):

Internal workings of the Kommandogerät

This should illustrate that it was indeed possible since 1940 to allow single-lever control of an aero engine, but doing so before electronic computers became cheap and reliable enough involved a very complex device. All other engine designers concluded that separate levers for prop pitch and mixture would be better, pilot workload be damned.

The almost non-existent technological progress in aero piston engines in the last 60 years means that only spillover developments from the car industry would introduce electronic engine control systems into aviation use, such as the PFM 3200 in the 1980s and Thielert (now Continental) Diesel engines more recently.

  • $\begingroup$ And Austro engines, in the DA42, basically a Mercedes diesel engine adapted for aeronautical use. We had a demo in one at the factory in Wiener Neustadt, the pilot made a point of demonstrating that all he had to do to start the engine was to push a button, all he had to do to increase throttle was to push one lever only. Demo-ed flying on one engine, also a non-event. Brilliant. It uses jet fuel as well. $\endgroup$ – Koyovis Nov 19 '17 at 15:29

Our company, Flight Enhancements, has an STC for a semi-automatic, add on mixture control device called Auto-Lean. It is STCd for many single engine general aviation aircraft. It allows the pilot to select their preferred mixture setting for phase of flight and flight profile (ie. climb, best power, efficiency, descent, LOP, ROP) while doing the actual setting automatically. It can also hold the setting and warn of any problems. See www.flightenhancements.com for details.


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