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104 votes
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If a pilot ejects, what is the autopilot programmed to do?

I would want to build in a way for the plane to try and save itself if possible (to save money) by auto-landing Had the situation allowed saving the airplane the human pilot would definitely have ...
Hanky Panky's user avatar
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62 votes

If a pilot ejects, what is the autopilot programmed to do?

To add some context to the other answers... Ejection is not a safe thing to do. The two most popular ejection systems today, the ACES II and Martin-Baker, have around a 90-92% success rate... the ...
tj1000's user avatar
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52 votes
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Why are on-board computers allowed to change controls without notifying the pilots?

There is a general design principle, that some, but not all, of the behavior of the flight guidance system or autopilot should be visible to the pilot. Usually automatic engagement or disengagement ...
RealAnswersNotAI's user avatar
48 votes

If a pilot ejects, what is the autopilot programmed to do?

Whatever it was programmed to do at the moment the pilot ejected. Ejection seats are complex enough without integrating special processing of the event into the autopilot. Since the autopilot can't ...
Therac's user avatar
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41 votes
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Has there ever been a fully automated takeoff, cruise, and landing of a large aircraft similar to commercial airliners?

The book The Glass Cage describes a fully autopilot-controlled military test flight in 1947. The plane was a C-54 Skymaster with seven men aboard. According to this source, the pilot aligned the plane ...
Daniel S.'s user avatar
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39 votes
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Why is 0 ft a valid target altitude for an autopilot?

Quite simply, it's because sometimes you fly below sea level. There's a couple stories out there of aircraft navigation systems acting a bit odd due to their flight below sea level. For example, there ...
M28's user avatar
  • 2,459
38 votes

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

Depending if you go by wingspan or mass, that would either be a Boeing 720 flown by remote control for a full-up crash test (investigating how jet fuel fires start in a crash), the (slightly longer, ...
Zeiss Ikon's user avatar
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33 votes
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Do helicopters have an auto hover system?

Yes, advanced flight directors and autopilots for helicopters can control the aircraft in all axes, and often they have modes for hovering built in, including maintain altitude, lateral veloctiy hold, ...
RealAnswersNotAI's user avatar
31 votes

Are there take-over requests from autopilots?

I assume in your question the autopilot is engaged. When the auto-flight system reaches the limits of its capabilities it simply disconnects. On Boeing aircraft you get a ...
Chris's user avatar
  • 2,026
30 votes

As of 2023, why do we still not have an airplane that can be operated by a person with very little training?

We do have airplanes that can be flown with very little training. If you cut out all of the details that make airline flight as remarkably save as it is, a non-pilot can be put in the pilot's seat of ...
Chris's user avatar
  • 16k
27 votes
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Is an autopilot failure an emergency?

It's not an emergency, but there is a significant workload increase because both pilots now have to be paying attention full time, with one watching the other flying, vs only one (watching the AP) ...
John K's user avatar
  • 132k
26 votes
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What is the largest aircraft ever successfully flown and landed with no pilot on board?

Following along on the wingspan idea, the Helios had a 247 foot wingspan.
Organic Marble's user avatar
25 votes
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What is the difference between autopilot and fly-by-wire system?

An autopilot can fly the aircraft based on pilot selected modes. The autopilot therefore reduces the pilot's workload by replacing manual inputs via the yoke or sidestick. A fly-by-wire (FBW) system ...
Bianfable's user avatar
  • 56.5k
24 votes

Why does the autopilot disengage even when it does not receive pilot input?

The "autopilot" is a fairly basic control system. Usually it is composed of just a few components (logically speaking) like a wing-leveler, heading mode, and altitude mode. The autopilot can control ...
Ron Beyer's user avatar
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23 votes
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Do modern aircraft require rudder input in order to perform a coordinated turn?

Most transport aircraft use yaw damper systems to take care of minor rudder inputs. Most autopilot systems are actually only 2-axis - pitch and roll since the rudder's job is only to keep the tail ...
John K's user avatar
  • 132k
22 votes

As of 2023, why do we still not have an airplane that can be operated by a person with very little training?

Short Answer: Because it takes the exact same skills to land a fully automated plane in a crosswind when the automation fails as it does to land a manual-only plane in a crosswind. Actually, it would ...
Michael Hall's user avatar
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21 votes
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How does envelope protection work in Airbus vs. Boeing aircraft?

There are two sorts of "autopilots", and it is important to make a distinction between the two. One is for the behaviour of the aircraft around its Centre of Gravity (CoG), the other one is for ...
Koyovis's user avatar
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20 votes
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What does the autopilot do if activated in a stall condition?

In the AF447 accident, the autopilot disconnected because of inconsistent airspeed: Temporary inconsistency between the airspeed measurements, likely following the obstruction of the Pitot probes by ...
Bianfable's user avatar
  • 56.5k
19 votes
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Could aircraft already do a safe auto-takeoff with todays equipment?

With some refinement and programming, the technology is easily there, sure; it just needs a few million dollars of design and certification costs for very little benefit. The main reason we have ...
Ben's user avatar
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19 votes
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Did these pilots break any regulations by hand-flying an A320 for most of the cruise?

I think they were humouring you Cloud. Hand flying a jet at level cruise speed is not fun. It takes a lot of concentration and the novelty quickly wears off, and there is a high risk of getting ...
John K's user avatar
  • 132k
18 votes

Why are on-board computers allowed to change controls without notifying the pilots?

There are two types of autopilots, one for the behaviour around the CoG and one for control of the CoG, as mentioned in this answer. Also sometimes called Inner Loop and Outer Loop. In short: The F-...
Koyovis's user avatar
  • 61.8k
17 votes
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How much time is a commercial aircraft (e.g. A320 / B737NG families) flown manually?

Today's aircraft automation is just not set up for unattended operation. There are too many individual tasks, that pilots must complete, to list here. The lowest workload for pilots is during cruise ...
Mike Sowsun's user avatar
  • 37.8k
17 votes

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

Fly-by-wire system removes physical link between cockpit controls and flight control surfaces. To do this, there must be some sort of rule how pilot's input is interpreted and converted into control ...
busdriver's user avatar
  • 3,340
15 votes

Do helicopters have an auto hover system?

Yes. Some helicopters, especially rescue, have auto-hover. Here are some examples: More to follow... I tried to find some videos for you, especially of the Bell ...
Simon's user avatar
  • 31.3k
15 votes
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Do small civilian aircraft have autopilots?

Many small, light aircraft are equipped with an autopilot today. They can range from very simple autopilots, without altitude selector and so on, Source, ST SYS 30, $ 12,000 to advanced systems with ...
Noah Krasser's user avatar
  • 9,002
15 votes
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What is the 3 click sound when the autopilot is disconnected on Airbus aircraft?

There are two separate aural warnings that you might be referring to: one is indeed called 'Triple Click' and consists of three brief clicks, but is emitted when the landing capability becomes ...
Deeday-UK's user avatar
  • 579
15 votes

Do autopilots have an 'activate' switch/button, in addition to 'on' and 'off'?

It is complicated (-; First thing first, autopilot systems come with a variety of forms and complexity. The autopilot on a Cessna 172 or Piper Cherokee is going to be very different than the one on a ...
kevin's user avatar
  • 39.8k
15 votes

Are there take-over requests from autopilots?

There are many possible reasons for the autopilot to disconnect. The details will depend on the aircraft, but here are the criteria for a Boeing 737 (source: 737 NG FCOMv2 4.20.2 Automatic Flight - ...
Bianfable's user avatar
  • 56.5k
15 votes
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Why was pitch angle protection not active in the CRJ 200 during the crash of Sweden Air 294?

I am intimately familiar with that incident. The airplane only had FDR recording the left PFD so they don't really know what was showing on the right one based on FDR. The only pitch angle ...
John K's user avatar
  • 132k

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