Auto pilot-Is it used to take off and/or land?

I fly a lot on commercial jets. When we take off and land, or are in between with hours of flying ahead, can/is the plane ever put on auto pilot? I'm talking about 767's cross country and Int'l travel.

Thank you.

12 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    Auto-Pilot cannot do a take off.

    Once the gear and flaps are up, and out of the terminal area, pilots like to engage the AP. It is coupled to the INS (Inertial Navigation System) or GPS.

    During Cruise the aircraft is almost always on AP, It does require constant monitoring to make sure you are on course.

    Descent into the terminal area is a pilot option,

    Most pilots like to fly the approach manually in good visibility.

    In limited visibility they will let AP fly down to decision height and then disengage.

    If flying a CAT III ILS approach, which is very rarely done, landing in zero/zero weather, the AP will stay engaged and plane will autoland.

    Pilot will have hands on the stick following the plane on glide-slope.

    It will land hard because of no flare just before touchdown.

    So the aircraft is on AP close to 75% of the time in flight.

    Source(s): Retired Instructor Flight Engineer
  • 1 decade ago

    Auto Pilot's main function is to reduce work load off the cockpit crews specially in long haul flights. It is not used on departure stage of flight because take-off is a critical part of the flight and the auto pilot (Even the most advanced ones) has a limitation in what we call decision making. Auto Pilot does well in amending the aircraft's attitude to make the flight smoother and safer but it is still very far from being as good as the human decision maker when a problem arises.

    When the aircraft reaches cruising altitude that's when the full use and benefits of the auto pilot emerges. It is highly used on cruising stage of the flight thereby greatly reducing the work exerted by the pilots in command and hence greatly lessens the fatigue.

    Now during final approach and landing the auto pilot CAN be used but it depends how advanced the 767's Avionics your flying on. There are standard categories on when, how and where you can use your autopilot stipulated by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

    I dont wanna get into those categories much but take note that the usage of auto pilot on landing depends upon several factors such as the type of navigation and landing aids (Instrument Landing System, etc.) on both the aircraft and in the airport. The weather also plays a big role in it and several other factors.

    Source(s): I took Aerospace Engineering and I love Aviation.
  • 1 decade ago

    Most airliners are equipped with 3-axis autopilots with many fancy features and couplings to various navigational equipment and extra controls. And most professional pilots use the autopilot just as little as they possibly can, with one or two exceptions.

    Some airliners are equipped with auto-land. I will get some disagreement on this, but the truth is pilots prefer to land by hand.

    There is a common misconception to the effect that an autopilot can fly an airplane. That really isn't true. What an autopilot is really useful for is to reduce pilot workload in certain high-workload situations like complex holding patterns and during long point-to-point legs. The autopilot automatically does the thousands of tiny little corrections required to keep an airplane headed in the right direction (and at the right altitude, if so equipped) without the pilots having to constantly keep adjusting the course from second to second as atmospheric conditions keep bumping the airplane around, usually almost imperceptibly.

    If you could look behind you in an airplane and see the path you have taken through the air with the autopilot engaged, you would see a zig-zag path of many slight corrections the net result of which is the desired course.

    So it's good to have an autopilot to reduce fatigue and to allow the crew to fold a map or take a sip of coffee.

    But autopilots are tricky gadgets, and require constant monitoring to make sure they don't go wacko or just quit, and take the airplane somewhere you don't want to go. Just because the autopilot is engaged doesn't mean the pilots can take their eyes off the instruments and the view outside, for even a minute.

    So yes, autopilots are used, but judiciously, and usually during long legs and holding patterns. But the crew is watching closely. So you don't have to.

    Have a nice flight...

    Source(s): retired Boeing 747-400 Captain
  • Walter
    Lv 4
    1 decade ago

    Well said Aviophage.

    I remember this quote, "whilst the computers are flying the planes, the pilots are flying the computers." It was from a documentary-like programme in the UK mocking pilots.

    Just touching upon what Aviophage said. I remember an article about a few newly trained A380 pilots. Pilots with an Airbus rating now require less training to fly the new A380, but a few newly trained A380 pilots remarked that the computer systems are really taking over flying.

    Remember, the CDU/FMC is able to fly the climb, cruise and descent phase, enter holding patterns, navigate using navaids and even perform most of the important calculations nowadays (such as fuel burn, gross weight, etc). However, that is if the CDU/FMC is programmed correctly and there was an American Airlines flight flying to Columbia which showed that an experienced crew mistakenly programmed their FMC (they were in a rush) which lead them to go off course over some mountains and then they were gone.

    Oh, and most pilots like to land by hand.

  • How do you think about the answers? You can sign in to vote the answer.
  • 5 years ago

    This Site Might Help You.


    Auto pilot-Is it used to take off and/or land?

    I fly a lot on commercial jets. When we take off and land, or are in between with hours of flying ahead, can/is the plane ever put on auto pilot? I'm talking about 767's cross country and Int'l travel.

    Thank you.

    Source(s): auto pilot land:
  • 1 decade ago

    The airplane will be flown on autopilot for almost the entire trip, but not usually during take-off or landing. Most commercial airline flights are flown primarily under computer control, with the pilots simply keeping an eye on the computers. Since take-off and landing are the fun parts, pilots still prefer to fly these by hand, if weather conditions permit.

    Take-off, in particular, is always flown by hand to some extent, although the computer is often allowed to handle the throttles (autothrottle).

    Airliners can land easily under computer control, but pilots like to land, too, so usually landings are conducted by hand. In poor weather, radio-assisted approaches such as ILS are used to help the pilots align with the runways. Standard ILS does not land the aircraft, but just guides it most of the way down towards the runway. Cat III ILS, however, will guide the airplane all the way to touchdown, and it is used when visibility is so poor that virtually nothing can be seen outside the window. Pilots will use Cat III ILS (autoland) when visibility requires it and when the airport is equipped to handle this type of landing. Cat III helps reduce the need to divert to a different airport if the original destination is fogged in. Airports that have a lot of fog, such as Heathrow in London, or San Francisco, usually have one or more runways equipped for Cat III autoland.

  • Rob G
    Lv 6
    1 decade ago

    Take off? Never

    Landing? Rarely, but it does happen.

    Most pilots turn the autopilot on anywhere from immediately after take-off to 10,000 feet. They turn them off anywhere from 10,000 to the last second (around 200 feet) and then land manually.

  • 1 decade ago

    youd be surprised how much the plane ISNT in auto pilot.... while about 50 percent of the time it is, the other times the pilots are looking for ways around weather to give you the smoothest ride possible, (if they are good pilots anyways, ive know alot that just let the AP fly through some turbulent weather lazy mofo ) but for take off and landing those are done by the pilots, not only because its a lil safer then haveing a computer(which could malfunction) its also 99% of pilots favorite part of flying, you got to remeber alot used to be military pilots flying jets, they gotta get all the action they can get :)

    Source(s): farther, three uncles, friend, grandfather
  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    That's pretty much the only thing that auto-pilot doesn't do.

    AP actually can land an airplane (has been proved in many unmanned tests) but most people are scared to be on an airplane in the first place so they don't want a computer landing it for them.

  • 1 decade ago

    Well there is something called a ILS approach that assists you with a landing. Although it helps, you release the AP at 150 FT Before landing for the flare. I also agree with the second one.

    I hope I helped.

Still have questions? Get your answers by asking now.