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Autopilot: Computerized Type plus Glass Cockpits - Test Flight Birrfeld to Bern

Computers have entered into cockpits with LCD-screens for displays, and advanced autpilots that can follow a whole route using GPS without need of VOR radio beacons. ILS is still often used for landing, but GPS enters here too.

• Flight 3 in King Air 90 with glass cockpit.
• Flight 4 in King Air 90 using FMS auto-LNAV.
• Flight 5. About Airliners: Learjet, Dash Q400, B747... and Airbus 320 Tutorial, AFS2.

Previous webpage with Flight 1 and 2:
Autopilot: Basic Type plus Analogue Instruments

! Comments/corrections are very welcome - New topics for me, and I am only a sim-pilot! • Contact, see below!

Fig. Learjet 45 glass cockpit with Primary Flight Display (PFD), Multi Funtion Displays (MFD), Flight Guidance Control (FGC) or Autopilot

Fig 1. Flight plan Birrfeld to Bern-Belp, from previous webpage. A short route used for my test flights in AFS2.  - Click för larger images!

Flight 3. Glass Cockpit - Basic Functions - with Beechcraft King Air C90 Gtx

King Air-series are twin-turboprop aircrafts. They are faster and have higher climb rate than cylinder-engined planes like Baron 58.

First King Air 90 was delivered in 1964. King Air series is the most produced twin-turboprop business aircraft model.

It has glass-cockpit with Rockwell Collins Pro Line 21.
We will start by using only its basic autopilot functions.

Speeds   (V = Vitesse, fr)
  Vrotate_____ 95 KIAS, knots, NM/h
  Vcruise____ 220 kts  --> 3.7 NM/min
  Vappr_____ 150 kts
  Vref_______100 kts - at threshold
  Vs0________ 78 kts - stall when flaps+gear Out
  climbVS___ 2000 ft/min (max)


Fig K1. Glass cockpit set-up for VOR-navigation - for manual flight or with autopilot

PFD Primary Flight Display: Speed, Horizon, Altitude, HSI, and lots of settings info.
MFD Multi Function Display - at present (9 Dec 2017) only one - no Weather, TopoMap, Hydraulics,..
  It shows: Engine instruments, Checklist, HSI 130°-arc and map with flight plan + nav objects.

  Knobs: mouse-rotate or click('press') to get standard- or now-values.

Flight 4. Glass Cockpit - FMS, Flight Management System, Advanced Autopilot - in King Air C90 Gtx

Now lets try the advanced functions: Our flight plan is in the FMS computer and autopilot will do the lateral (horizontal) navigation all the way using GPS. We must manage: start, altitude and speed, and ILS activation.

FMS Flight Management System, i.e. a computer with advanced functions for system display and navigation.

Nav/Brg-button - lets you choose between:
  * Nav1 - VOR1-nav or ILS1-nav.
  * Nav2 - VOR2-nav or ILS2-nav.
  * FMS  - stored flight plan followed with GPS
Activate with AP's NAV-button.

- FD Flight Director - pink symbol that guides you if you want to fly manually along your flight plan.
"FD" text in PFD-top shows pilot in charge!
(Click on [FD]-btn in AP erases AP settings and activates Pitch+Roll-holding(?)

- Vnav Vertical Nav - three options possible:
  * VS Vertical Speed, set to x ft/min
  * SPEED click for present, then kept by nose up/dn
  * FLC Flight Level Change - computer scheme.
No throttle control in this AP. You must manage!

- LNAV Lateral Nav - (horizontal nav).

We will try a FMS-guided tour. Settings as in Fig K2.

Fig K2. FMS activated, HSI green text! Autopilot will follow flight plan - after take-off and click on NAV!

Tour Birrfeld to Bern with FMS - GPS-nav part
This sequence of images shows FMS in work.
We start with AP-off, i.e. in FD-mode.
After take-off and stabilizing we set AP on.
First only pitch and roll control.
Then click [NAV] to activate FMS - GPS-navigation!

We must select altitude: Alt-btn to 7000ft,
click [ALT] and quickly [VS] and rotate wheel UP to get 1000ft/min.

Then lean back and follow FMS handling climb to 7000ft (ALTS), and making our three turns.

- Notice changes in AP-mode on top line of PFD!

Started. AP on. First turn to the left. Climbing.

Turn to the right at WIL. Have reache ALTS 7000ft.
  AP-mode: FMS AP ALTS (7200ft)

Catching ILS and landing
After turn 3 we want to catch Bern ILS-beam at 138°.
We have Nav1 frequency set to 110.10, and must set crs to 138°. Sevaral ways to do that:
  - Already at start.
  - Set AP in HDG-mode, and Nav/Brg-btn to Nav1,
    and turn crs1-knob.
  - Let co-pilot make changes on PFD-2
    (use key 2 and 1 to swap pilot-seat!)

We are on hdg 183° and can use [NAV] to catch beam (LOC). Then to catch glide slope we use [APR].

If all goes well we will approach runway and can let autopilot do a hard landing, or flare out when over threshold (AP off!).

I had difficulties handling speed well. I ought to have memorized the V-speed above!

Moving in to ILS. Turn left. NAV with ILS i.e. slightly wider catch field.
  AP-mode: VOR AP ALTS (now 4000ft)

ILS both LOC heading 138° and GS glide slope (here 4°) caught.   AP-mode: LOC AP GS
Remark: Now NDB 335 BER is set, late!

Note the two Course Deviation Indicators, CDI, in the Attitude indicator: Green diamonds on black stripes with white dots.

Flight 5. About Airliner Autopilots - and then A320 Tutorial

The airplanes above show a historical development: Cessna simple AP+old instruments,
Baron similar but with HSI, King Air with a modern glass cockpit.

In AFS2 next choices can be Learjet 45 or Dash 8Q-400. Both have APs similar to King Air.

- Learjet 45 is a very quick and agile, almost like a jet fighter. You should have a good joystick and handle with tiny motions!  Learjet's cockpit is compact and one has a good view of all instruments in a sim-screen.

- Dash 8Q-400 turboprop is slower and moves more gently. But, its cockpit has panels wide apart, making it difficult to use in sim-screen: when one turns a knob the changing digits are sometimes out of view.

AFS2 manuals
- The AFS2-manual for Airbus 320 is very pedagogic.
- The manuals for Learjet and Dash contain lots of info on what a real pilot has to handle, which makes them a little difficult to read. Maybe will AFS2 split them into several parts (?).
Fig. Learjet 45 instruments. Compact design - good for Sim with screen display!
Fig. You can choose different layouts in PFD and MFD. Here two PFD variants in Learjet:

Fig. Dash 8Q-400 instruments. More spread-out. Requires zoom and pan in Sim!

- Airbus 320 and Boeing 747 in AFS2 have modern autopilots that show digits close to each knob.

Fig. Detail of A320 display contol and autopilot
Fig. Airbus 320 in AFS2

Fig. Boeing 747 in AFS2

- Boeing 737 in AS2 has old-style instruments and a modern autopilot. Lets you test flying as pilots did before glass cockpit!

Fig. Detail of Boeing 737 autopilot

Fig. Boeing 737 in AFS2
Flight 5:

• Airbus 320 Beginners Tutorial, AFS2 Wiki

- very pedagogic and shows AP's advanced features.
- main steps and flight plan shown here, the rest you find at AFS2 website.

Flight 5 from Sacramento to San Francisco.

- Start: Manual, significant speeds are displayed.

- Cruise: Autopilot follows track (GPS), and you set ALTS to 12000ft.

- Landing with ILS: Set ALTS to 2000ft. Autopilot computes Top of Descent (ToD), tunes in and lands aircraft all the way to Rwy, with flare!

Panels for sims:
One can buy autopilot panels for simulators, to make your sim-flying more hands-on.

Fig. GoFlight Pro similar to Boeing 737 AP.
  Just buy, plug-in, and play! But is not cheap!

Fig. Saitek panels are simpler and less expensive. Here autopilot and radio panels. One has to use a knob (left) for different displays/settings:


Last update: 22 Dec 2017, Bo Justussson, Stockholm, Sweden

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