April 2015 Issue

Autopilots And Their Errors

Many problems originate with heading, attitude or nav sources, but their impact depends on how your autopilot uses that information.

They go by different nicknames—“George” and “Otto” probably are the most popular—and have become an integral part of even a basic IFR platform’s standard equipment, especially when flown single-pilot. And because the latest high-tech versions on the market can do just about anything for you except eliminate a potty stop, they’ve proliferated throughout all segments of the general aviation fleet. “They,” of course, are autopilots—electromechanical systems used to control an aircraft, and available in a wide variety of configurations and capabilities from simple wing-levelers to full-blown flight directors rivaling the modern transport jet you rode in last week.

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