top of page

Fitness Group

Public·120 members


An autopilot is a system used to control the path of an aircraft, marine craft or spacecraft without requiring constant manual control by a human operator. Autopilots do not replace human operators. Instead, the autopilot assists the operator's control of the vehicle, allowing the operator to focus on broader aspects of operations (for example, monitoring the trajectory, weather and on-board systems).[1]


An autopilot system is sometimes colloquially referred to as "George"[2] (e.g. "we'll let George fly for a while"). The etymology of the nickname is unclear: some claim it is a reference to inventor George De Beeson, who patented an autopilot in the 1930s, while others claim that Royal Air Force pilots coined the term during World War II to symbolize that their aircraft technically belonged to King George VI.[3]

In the early days of aviation, aircraft required the continuous attention of a pilot to fly safely. As aircraft range increased, allowing flights of many hours, the constant attention led to serious fatigue. An autopilot is designed to perform some of the pilot's tasks.

The first aircraft autopilot was developed by Sperry Corporation in 1912.[4] The autopilot connected a gyroscopic heading indicator and attitude indicator to hydraulically operated elevators and rudder. (Ailerons were not connected as wing dihedral was counted upon to produce the necessary roll stability.) It permitted the aircraft to fly straight and level on a compass course without a pilot's attention, greatly reducing the pilot's workload.

Lawrence Sperry, the son of famous inventor Elmer Sperry, demonstrated it in 1914 at an aviation safety contest held in Paris. Sperry demonstrated the credibility of the invention by flying the aircraft with his hands away from the controls and visible to onlookers. Elmer Sperry Jr., the son of Lawrence Sperry, and Capt Shiras continued work on the same autopilot after the war, and in 1930, they tested a more compact and reliable autopilot which kept a U.S. Army Air Corps aircraft on a true heading and altitude for three hours.[5]

The autopilot was further developed, to include, for example, improved control algorithms and hydraulic servomechanisms. Adding more instruments, such as radio-navigation aids, made it possible to fly at night and in bad weather. In 1947, a U.S. Air Force C-53 made a transatlantic flight, including takeoff and landing, completely under the control of an autopilot.[7][8] Bill Lear developed his F-5 automatic pilot and automatic approach control system, and was awarded the Collier Trophy in 1949.[9]

Not all of the passenger aircraft flying today have an autopilot system. Older and smaller general aviation aircraft especially are still hand-flown, and even small airliners with fewer than twenty seats may also be without an autopilot as they are used on short-duration flights with two pilots. The installation of autopilots in aircraft with more than twenty seats is generally made mandatory by international aviation regulations. There are three levels of control in autopilots for smaller aircraft. A single-axis autopilot controls an aircraft in the roll axis only; such autopilots are also known colloquially as "wing levellers", reflecting their single capability. A two-axis autopilot controls an aircraft in the pitch axis as well as roll, and may be little more than a wing leveller with limited pitch oscillation-correcting ability; or it may receive inputs from on-board radio navigation systems to provide true automatic flight guidance once the aircraft has taken off until shortly before landing; or its capabilities may lie somewhere between these two extremes. A three-axis autopilot adds control in the yaw axis and is not required in many small aircraft.

Autopilots in modern complex aircraft are three-axis and generally divide a flight into taxi, takeoff, climb, cruise (level flight), descent, approach, and landing phases. Autopilots that automate all of these flight phases except taxi and takeoff exist. An autopilot-controlled approach to landing on a runway and controlling the aircraft on rollout (i.e. keeping it on the centre of the runway) is known as an Autoland, where the autopilot utilizes an Instrument Landing System (ILS) Cat IIIc approach, which is used when the visibility is zero. These approaches are available at many major airports' runways today, especially at airports subject to adverse weather phenomena such as fog. The aircraft can typically stop on their own, but will require the disengagement of the autopilot in order to exit the runway and taxi to the gate. An autopilot is often an integral component of a Flight Management System.

Modern autopilots use computer software to control the aircraft. The software reads the aircraft's current position, and then controls a flight control system to guide the aircraft. In such a system, besides classic flight controls, many autopilots incorporate thrust control capabilities that can control throttles to optimize the airspeed.

The autopilot in a modern large aircraft typically reads its position and the aircraft's attitude from an inertial guidance system. Inertial guidance systems accumulate errors over time. They will incorporate error reduction systems such as the carousel system that rotates once a minute so that any errors are dissipated in different directions and have an overall nulling effect. Error in gyroscopes is known as drift. This is due to physical properties within the system, be it mechanical or laser guided, that corrupt positional data. The disagreements between the two are resolved with digital signal processing, most often a six-dimensional Kalman filter. The six dimensions are usually roll, pitch, yaw, altitude, latitude, and longitude. Aircraft may fly routes that have a required performance factor, therefore the amount of error or actual performance factor must be monitored in order to fly those particular routes. The longer the flight, the more error accumulates within the system. Radio aids such as DME, DME updates, and GPS may be used to correct the aircraft position.

An option midway between fully automated flight and manual flying is Control Wheel Steering (CWS). Although it is becoming less used as a stand-alone option in modern airliners, CWS is still a function on many aircraft today. Generally, an autopilot that is CWS equipped has three positions: off, CWS, and CMD. In CMD (Command) mode the autopilot has full control of the aircraft, and receives its input from either the heading/altitude setting, radio and navaids, or the FMS (Flight Management System). In CWS mode, the pilot controls the autopilot through inputs on the yoke or the stick. These inputs are translated to a specific heading and attitude, which the autopilot will then hold until instructed to do otherwise. This provides stability in pitch and roll. Some aircraft employ a form of CWS even in manual mode, such as the MD-11 which uses a constant CWS in roll. In many ways, a modern Airbus fly-by-wire aircraft in Normal Law is always in CWS mode. The major difference is that in this system the limitations of the aircraft are guarded by the flight computer, and the pilot cannot steer the aircraft past these limits.[12]

The hardware of an autopilot varies between implementations, but is generally designed with redundancy and reliability as foremost considerations. For example, the Rockwell Collins AFDS-770 Autopilot Flight Director System used on the Boeing 777 uses triplicated FCP-2002 microprocessors which have been formally verified and are fabricated in a radiation-resistant process.[13]

Some autopilots also use design diversity. In this safety feature, critical software processes will not only run on separate computers and possibly even using different architectures, but each computer will run software created by different engineering teams, often being programmed in different programming languages. It is generally considered unlikely that different engineering teams will make the same mistakes. As the software becomes more expensive and complex, design diversity is becoming less common because fewer engineering companies can afford it. The flight control computers on the Space Shuttle used this design: there were five computers, four of which redundantly ran identical software, and a fifth backup running software that was developed independently. The software on the fifth system provided only the basic functions needed to fly the Shuttle, further reducing any possible commonality with the software running on the four primary systems.

A stability augmentation system (SAS) is another type of automatic flight control system; however, instead of maintaining the aircraft required altitude or flight path, the SAS will move the aircraft control surfaces to damp unacceptable motions. SAS automatically stabilizes the aircraft in one or more axes. The most common type of SAS is the yaw damper which is used to reduce the Dutch roll tendency of swept-wing aircraft. Some yaw dampers are part of the autopilot system while others are stand-alone systems.[14]

Amazon SageMaker Autopilot is now Generally Available. With this feature, Amazon SageMaker can use your tabular data and the target column you specify to automatically train and tune your model, while providing full visibility into the process. As the name suggests, you can use it on autopilot, deploying the model with the highest accuracy with one click in Amazon SageMaker Studio, or use it as a guide to decision making, enabling you to make tradeoffs, such as accuracy with latency or model size.

The VECTOR-600 is UAV Navigation's most advanced autopilot. VECTOR-600 is a robust and dependable unit, with built-in physical and logical redundancy, allowing it to survive all individual sensor failures while maintaining accurate estimates of attitude and position. This dependability has helped the VECTOR-600 rapidly to become the autopilot of choice for UAV professionals who require the most advanced and reliable autopilot for fixed wing, rotary wing and VTOL UAVs. 041b061a72


Welcome to the group! You can connect with other members, ge...
Group Page: Groups_SingleGroup
bottom of page