“How Does an Airplanes Auto-Pilot Work?”

Do you always pack your fear of flying along with your luggage every time you board a flight?

Next time you fly to someplace leave your fear back at home and have a fearless, pleasant and relaxing flight; as going through this article is likely to help you overcome at least some of your flying fears.

Although air travel is one of the most efficient and safe modes of traveling available today, yet there are many who are left grounded because of their fear of flying.

Knowledge is one of the most effective solutions to overcome any fear and the same applies to fear of flying as well. This article is designed with the same intention to help you educate yourself better on how airplanes work so that you can overcome your situation in the most effective way possible.

In the following section we will focus on a particular aspect of flying, ‘auto pilots’ and how they work.

The recent crashes of the private plane carrying golfer Payne Stewarts as well as the EgyptAir Flight 990 have brought airplane autopilots in focus. People have become more curious to know how these autopilots work, but before we move on to the working of an autopilot, let’s take a quick look at what are autopilots all about.

An airplane basically has three control surfaces, they are-

    * The ailerons; they are the movable panels that are attached at rare side of each wing to help the aircraft turn left or right.

    * The tail rudder; this part of an aircraft is used to turn the nose of the air plane

    * The elevators; this helps the aircraft go up or down.

Now taking about autopilots; they are electronic devices that are designed to maneuver the three types of control surfaces mentioned above.

The autothrottle keeps a track of the aircraft speed and is controlled by a different system.

Autopilots have several benefits. Some of these benefits are mentioned bellow:

    * Most importantly an autopilot helps the crew from getting tired, so that they are free to scout for traffic, alter the flight plan, check the other systems of the airplane like air pressurization, hydraulics, etc.

    * Autopilots also contribute towards enhancing passenger comfort and efficiency of fuel. Autopilot adjustments are more accurate and subtle than the adjustments made by hand and are therefore employed for making crucial adjustments.

In case of a commercial aircraft the autothrottle and autopilot is maneuvered by a highly equipped navigational computer, known as ‘Flight Management System’ (FMS) that is installed onboard. Usually, the programming of the FMS before taking off, altitude, entering landmarks and desired speed are decided by the pilot himself. The FMS employs radio signals and instrument readings from fixed points on the ground to find out what adjustments need to be done in order to meet the flight plan. These adjustments must be done by the pilot if he or she is in charge, but if the autopilot is engaged these adjustments are done automatically.

Because of the kind of benefits and accuracy the autopilot system offers, they are usually engaged through out the flight, especially on a commercial flight. But that doesn’t mean that an aircraft runs without a human pilot. Pilots do take charge of the aircraft at the most crucial moments, such as during the time of landing and take off, and sometimes in mid flight as well. This is not because the autopilots cannot fly the aircraft safely, but just as an extra precaution. However, many a times during emergencies and bad weather pilots allow FMS and autopilot to land the plane; as these devices do not depend on visual clues.

So to conclude, now that you have gone through this article you have a fair idea on how autopilots work and their benefits. With the advancement of technology, air travel has become much more convenient and safer than ever before. In case you are also one of those you suffer from fear of flying, you should know that both highly trained humans and cutting edge technology work at the same time to ensure your safety.

All material provided on this website is provided for informational or education purposes only. No content is intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Consult your physician regarding the applicability of any opinions or recommendations with respect to your symptoms or medical condition. The author is not a pilot, therapist, psychologist, physician, or other mental health or medical professional. Customer names or locations may have been changed to preserve anonymity. Your individual results may vary and are influenced by many factors.