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HOW TO FLY A PLANE - AUTOMATIC CONTROL

Updated: Sep 5, 2019


What are the airlines looking for when they hire pilots ? What are the skills required to be great at your job? In an attempt to answer these questions I will cover a Professional Pilot is expected to master the Commercial Pilot Training.


What is the autopilot?


The automatic system is divided into 3 main parts: The Flight Management System (FMS), the Flight Director (F/D) and the Autopilot (A/P). Often an Auto thrust (A/T) system as well. If we want to be technically correct, which we want, the autopilot is actually nothing more than a rather simple computer that follows commands and translates those commands to hydraulic servo actuators in order to move the flight controls. So basically a mechanical version of ourselves. The autopilot in itself, in its most basic form, Pilot Training cannot do more than keep the aircraft level or at a specific attitude.


More advanced commands like turning to a chosen heading, climbing with a specific vertical speed or maintaining a certain altitude actually comes from the Flight Director system. The F/D is the brain behind the A/P flying the aircraft Commercial Pilot Training. This is important understanding because I would argue that if you disconnect the autopilot and manually manipulate the controls, but you are a slave under the Flight Director and blindly follow its commands, are you truly flying the aircraft manually..?


To fly the automatics

You cannot completely let go and relax when you operate an autopilot. Regardless of the modes we use, we must always verify that the selected mode is indeed the one engaged and that the aircraft is doing what we expect of it. The simplest way to do that is to verify on our instruments that all intended modes are engaged. This is done on the FMAs (Flight Mode Annunciations) . On top of our primary display is a row of green mode Annunciations, thrust modes to the left, lateral/roll modes in the middle and vertical/pitch modes on the right.

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