Monday, November 12, 2007


Autopilots are designed to control the aircraft and help reduce the pilot's workload. The limitations of the autopilot depend on the complexity of the system. The common features available on an autopilot are altitude and heading hold. More advanced systems may include a vertical speed and/or indicated airspeed hold mode. Most autopilot systems are coupled to navigational aids.

An autopilot system consists of servos that actuate the flight controls. The number and location of these servos depends on the complexity of the system. For example, a single-axis autopilot controls the aircraft about the longitudinal axis and a servo actuates the ailerons. A three-axis autopilot controls the aircraft about the longitudinal, lateral, and vertical axes; and three different servos actuate the ailerons, the elevator, and the rudder.

The autopilot system also incorporates a disconnect safety feature to automatically or manually disengage the system. Autopilots can also be manually overridden. Because autopilot systems differ widely in their operation, refer to the autopilot operating instructions in the AFM or POH.

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