Questions tagged [autopilot]

An autopilot is a system used to guide an aircraft without assistance from a person.

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19 votes
4 answers
7k views

What is the largest aircraft ever successfully flown and landed with no pilot on board?

I'm not sure if this belongs here or on the drone site. What is the largest aircraft (not spacecraft) that has completed an entire flight, including takeoff and no- or minimal-damage landing, either ...
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0 votes
0 answers
38 views

TruTrak Vision PMA Autopilot Limitations for coupled instrument procedures- C172M - STC SA04231CH

I am currently flying a Cessna 172M with a TruTrak Vision Autopilot installed under STC SA04231CH. Section 2.4 of the approved AFMS states: This autopilot has not been evaluated by the FAA to meet ...
2 votes
1 answer
196 views

Why would the 737 autopilot A disengage without engine-driven hydraulic pump during heavy demand?

Note: Loss of the system A engine-driven hydraulic pump, and a heavy demand on system A, may cause A/P A to disengage. Just finding it difficult to understand why the A/P would disengage in this case....
3 votes
1 answer
511 views

What is needed in a plane to fly approach mode?

Do you need anything other than approach mode to be able to have the plane fly the ILS to minimums? Do you need a EFD (glass cokpit) or can it be done with steam gages as well?
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3 votes
2 answers
356 views

Are stories of autopilots in things like the J-3 basically urban myth?

While my own research makes plain that the Cub-owning community seems to consider the idea of installing even the most basic autopilot into a Cub a mortal sin, there are scattered accounts on the web ...
8 votes
2 answers
1k views

Will the autopilot raise the AoA above the critical AoA to maintain altitude?

NOTE: This question is regarding commercial airliners (eg: Boeing 737, Airbus A320, etc.. This is for any given configuration of the aircraft) Will the autopilot raise the AoA above the critical AoA ...
9 votes
3 answers
2k views

What happens if the autopilot fails to initiate a flare?

What are the chances of autopilot failing to do a flare in an otherwise stable autopilot controlled approach and landing? Has it happened before and how was it dealt with?
0 votes
5 answers
254 views

How do airplanes measure cross-wind?

Are aircraft equipped with any instruments that measure actual crosswind velocity during a flight? What is that instrument called and is it used by autopilots to apply wind correction?
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14 votes
5 answers
4k views

What is the difference between autopilot and fly-by-wire system?

I observed a lot of people misinterpret these words. In my opinion, autopilot assists the pilot by inputting the commands to the computer whereas fly-by-wire (FBW) system sends and receives signals ...
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0 votes
1 answer
101 views

Feasibility and process for the approval of a modified glider [closed]

I am looking into a business idea that requires glider sized semi-automatic drones but I am very naive when it comes to the regulations and rigour of the aviation and airline industry, so I am hoping ...
5 votes
5 answers
346 views

How do aircraft instruments determine the aircraft's orientation relative to the ground?

Autopilots exist for airplanes and drones, how is orientation measured with respect to ground? In particular how is the direction of gravity detected and how is it differentiated from acceleration due ...
1 vote
1 answer
81 views

Can a normally poorly handling airframe with high moments of inertia actually have superior flight dynamics under autonomous control? [closed]

I’m not a pilot but know a thing or two about flight dynamics. As you know there are currently quite a few aircraft under development designed for low-and-slow and (eventually) autonomous flight. ...
0 votes
1 answer
209 views

Does the Autopilot switch to ALT ACQ mode at a fixed altitude difference from target altitude?

For example, if climbing (or descending for that matter) at 3500 fpm, will the AP switch to ALT ACQ mode at the same point it will as when climbing or descending with 1000 fpm? Or does the point of ...
0 votes
1 answer
947 views

How do I set up G1000 GFC700 autopilot for takeoff?

I want to be able to engage autopilot right away at a safe altitude, while taking advantage of flight level control at Vy for the climb. Heading is set for the runway. I’d switch to NAV mode when I ...
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1 vote
0 answers
66 views

Choosing $\phi/\beta$ in Lateral-directional control design

In designing the Lateral-directional controller for aircraft, there is a parameter called $\phi/\beta$ that is defined as the ratio of the magnitude of the bank angle to the sideslip envelopes in the ...
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1 vote
0 answers
91 views

When aircraft is flown by the pilot and when by the autopilot? What are common procedures? [duplicate]

I am courious about different phases of flight in which airplane is flown by the Pilot, and when by the Autopilot. For example, I'm quite sure that generally pilots have full control during takeoff ...
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5 votes
2 answers
255 views

Can autopilot track ILS without any internal heading reference?

I am asking about the internal design of the autopilot of a CRJ200 (no autoland). I was flying an ILS approach when the AHRS heading started to drift rapidly by 30 degrees. The autopilot somehow was ...
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0 votes
1 answer
249 views

How is the B737NG Autopilot controlling pitch?

In particular, does the Autopilot in a B737NG control the pitch only via trim adjustment, or first via the elevators and then trim?
0 votes
0 answers
117 views

Why is it still mandatory to land a plane without autopilot? [duplicate]

I know that there are runways in the world that operate CAT III where the pilot can land with autopilot. But why do most airports with ILS not allow automatic landing?
10 votes
2 answers
3k views

What does the autopilot do if activated in a stall condition?

I was thinking about Air France 447 recently and had a wonder: What would happen if the pilots had re-engaged the autopilot and stopped all stick input? (If that's even possible in a stall condition). ...
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1 vote
0 answers
221 views

Boeing 747 Autopilot PID Controller

For a personal flight simulator project, I am creating my own custom Boeing 747 classic series. I have about 50% of the project complete at a level of detail nearly equivalent to study-level flight ...
6 votes
2 answers
503 views

How did pilots maintain the Vomit Comet's parabolic trajectory?

How did the Vomit Comet maintain its free-fall trajectory? Careful trimming? Custom autopilot software? Or just good stick and rudder technique? Wikipedia, citing references but without ...
1 vote
1 answer
7k views

At what point can Approach mode be engaged in an A320?

In my experience using Flightgear and other computer simulators, when flying an ILS approach on an A320, the approach mode can only be engaged at a certain point or later. What is this point, and why ...
2 votes
2 answers
1k views

How does one resume a VNAV climb in a B737 NG after being instructed to level off at an altitude below the Cruise altitude?

I am referring to a Boeing 737NG. Assuming I am on a VNAV climb but I am instructed by ATC to climb only to an altitude lower than my FMC Cruise altitude. After leveling off, how do I resume my VNAV ...
3 votes
1 answer
2k views

What is the difference between Level Change and ALT INTV during VNAV descent?

I'm confused between the two. During descent for 737 PMDG, I usually start a descent via ALT INTV, but sometimes the plane doesn't response to ALT INTV but responds to LVL Change instead. I need help ...
1 vote
0 answers
117 views

Flying in V formation with multiple planes

Logistically choreographed using air-traffic controllers to pair like planes headed in the same direction or by scheduling flights together, how much fuel could be saved pairing planes to fly in a ...
3 votes
1 answer
2k views

How to fly an RNAV (RNP) approach with VNAV in a Boeing 737?

Let us assume you are flying a B737NG and you are cleared for an RNAV (RNP) approach which has several legs with different altitude crossing restrictions. What do you enter in the MCP altitude window?...
1 vote
2 answers
569 views

What is the dutch roll filter? How does it work?

Some airplanes have a dutch roll filter for the "yaw damper." What is the dutch roll filter? When is it used? Is it ever required for certification or operation? How does it work?
3 votes
1 answer
1k views

Why are the A300/310’s electric pitch trim switches inhibited with the autopilot engaged?

The A300/A310, like most other aircraft (except for some small general-aviation aircraft), has an adjustable-incidence-angle horizontal stabiliser, which is used to trim the aircraft in pitch (for ...
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6 votes
1 answer
898 views

Why does an A300/310 in LAND or GO-AROUND mode have to be at least 400 feet AGL for manual control column movement to disengage the autopilot?

Each of the A300/310’s two autopilots has two modes of operation: In CWS (Control-Wheel Steering) mode, the autopilot(s) attempt to hold the attitude that the aircraft had at the moment of autopilot ...
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1 vote
1 answer
541 views

What profile will a Boeing 737 NG follow after pushing the ALT INTV button?

If one uses the ALT INTV button during a Climb or Descent in the Boeing 737 NG on the MCP, what profile (Speed/Path) will the AP follow in such a climb and/or descent? Is it the same as programmed in ...
2 votes
0 answers
140 views

Can commercial automatic flight control fly back-side?

For most commercial flight director, autopilot and auto-throttle systems (e.g. the A330-300, B737-800), the flight director/autopilot flies the altitude hold (ALT) or vertical speed (V/S) mode by ...
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15 votes
1 answer
1k views

Why is the autopilot of the DHC-6 Twin Otter powered by bleed air?

I was just reading through the POH of a DHC-6-100 Twin Otter and was surprised to read the following: 3.8.2 LOW PRESSURE - OTHER SYSTEMS. The airframe deicing system and the autopilot are ...
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2 votes
0 answers
72 views

How often is a commercial (airliner) flight flown without autopilot? [duplicate]

When it comes to commercial flights, I am aware that once the aircraft has reached a certain altitude, the autopilot activates and assists the pilots in flying the aircraft. It makes being a pilot on ...
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7 votes
1 answer
817 views

Why was pitch angle protection not active in the CRJ 200 during the crash of Sweden Air 294?

I have read about the CRJ 200 Sweden Air 294 crash. I understood that the main cause of the accident was faulty IRU and wrong declutter PFD design. The human error also lead the aircraft into a ...
1 vote
2 answers
233 views

Do all GA autopilots use cable "clutches"?

In researching General Aviation autopilots it seems to me that most commonly the way control surfaces are affected is via a servo that attaches (via a clutch) to the control cable. References here and ...
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5 votes
3 answers
3k views

How often do GA pilots use the Autopilot approach feature while landing?

While flying in simulations, I found that using the Approach feature is very beneficial for riding the glide slope (clear weather or not), however, while watching videos of GA pilots, I do not see it ...
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10 votes
5 answers
16k views

What does it mean when autoland is fail passive / fail operational?

The below explanation is what I've got from the internet about fail passive and fail operational: Fail operational - Where you have 3 autopilots engaged, such that any single failure will result in ...
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1 vote
0 answers
179 views

Can I change the max bank angle on the Garmin G1000 in the C172SP?

I wonder if I can change the max bank angle on the G1000/GFC700 avionics in a C172SP, like you can on the MCP of the 737NG?
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-3 votes
1 answer
163 views

When will robots take over pilots? [closed]

So, I am considering a career being a pilot. However, the course is real expensive, and I do not want to invest so much money if in a couple of years robots will replace pilots. So, anyone have any ...
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5 votes
3 answers
356 views

Does auto pilot take into consideration the altitude, speed, and the difference in heading change, to calculate the degree of bank?

Or is there a “standard” that the auto pilot follows at all times? By “standard” I mean the aircraft will bank at x amount of degrees each time regardless of the following mentioned? The more you ...
13 votes
3 answers
2k views

Is there any obvious warning when auto-pilot is disengaged or when the mode changes?

Under the investigation section of the First Air Flight 6560 incident, it describes the catalyst for the accident: The approach was entirely flown on autopilot, which was correctly set to capture ...
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0 votes
2 answers
160 views

Does the AP disengage if the plane is upset and how would the flight controls react if not being held?

Does the AP (autopilot) essentially detect a rapid change in speed/altitude as a wild maneuver? If so, upon disengaging, if the pilots are not holding the control column in a neutral position, will it ...
3 votes
1 answer
296 views

last 747 flight path, was this hand flown? How was this communicated with ATC? [duplicate]

Elal's last 747 flight made this nice path of a 747, how was this done? Could this be entered into the computer and flown? or was this hand flown The path looks quite neat Also what is the ATC ...
1 vote
3 answers
535 views

Can autopilot navigate automatically?

When the pilots enter their flight plan into the FMGS, the route will be shown on the ND. Can the autopilot automatically turn when needed with the given plan, or the pilots have to manually adjust ...
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4 votes
2 answers
403 views

What happens when auto-pilot fails over the ocean?

Let’s assume the current location puts the aircraft 2 hours from the nearest airport, but the destination is 2 1/2 hours away. Would the pilots hand fly the rest of the way? Are they allowed to fly ...
1 vote
2 answers
433 views

On Airbus aircraft, can the pilot control the aircraft when the autopilot is active?

I am looking at the schematics of computerized control for Aibus aircraft and I do not understand the relation between the various control law and the autopilot. Under "normal law" can the pilot ...
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20 votes
2 answers
3k views

Are there take-over requests from autopilots?

I am thinking of the driver take-over request in automated driving, when the system limits are reached and the back-up driver has to intervene / drive manually. Is there something similar in aviation, ...
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7 votes
1 answer
448 views

Are there any plans to make the QF-16 into a drone for actual combat missions, or a fully autonomous fighter?

It appears to a naive layman like myself that the QF-16 is an excellent platform to use for remote controlled missions akin to that of other drones. Except that the F-16 appears to have a broader ...
8 votes
2 answers
432 views

Are there any aircraft with retractable vortex generators?

From this answer, “Of course, these also add drag, even when the wing is not stalling, so they are only added where needed”. Are there any aircraft that have vortex generators that are retractable so ...
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