December 18, 2013

Did You Know? Using the Autopilot - Simplified Control Scheme

Operating SkyView’s integrated autopilot is extraordinarily easy when using the Simplified control scheme.

Pilots can select between the Simplified control scheme and the more complex Expert control scheme in the Autopilot Setup menu. When using the Simplified control scheme, all autopilot controls are accessed from a single menu - labeled AUTOPILOT - on SkyView’s main menu.

To have the autopilot take control and continue flying the aircraft its current direction and altitude, simply press AUTOPILOT then TRK+ALT.  The aircraft will continue along the currently established GPS ground track and altitude with no apparent change.  It’s that simple! When you press the TRK+ALT button, both the TRK and ALT bugs will automatically be synchronized to the aircraft’s current GPS ground track and altitude (rounded to nearest 100 feet) values.

With the autopilot in control, to make changes to the aircraft’s direction and altitude the pilot need merely change the value of the TRK or ALT bugs using either knob located on the bottom corners of the SkyView display.

To instead have the autopilot to follow a course designated by the HSI needle, just press HSI+ALT.  This will “center the needle” and fly whatever course is reflected by SkyView’s HSI. For VFR aircraft that typically don’t have additional IFR navigation equipment on board, this is usually SkyView’s own GPS navigation guidance.

The autopilot will again immediately take control of the aircraft.  It synchronizes the ALT bug to the aircraft’s current altitude value (rounded to the nearest 100 feet) and continues on at that altitude.   For roll control, however, the autopilot will establish an appropriate angle to intercept the indicated course.  If the aircraft is already on course -- for example, when the pilot has selected “direct-to” from the aircraft’s current position -- the autopilot will simply turn in the appropriate direction and follow that course line.  It will even apply the appropriate correction for any crosswind to ensure the aircraft precisely follows the designated course.  Again, it’s that simple! To change altitude the pilot merely needs to change the ALT bug value using any available SkyView knob.  The autopilot will change course only when the needle on the HSI changes to display a different course, such as when a waypoint is passed and the active flight plan sequences to the next waypoint, or when a new direct-to destination is chosen. With the autopilot engaged in either mode, the pilot can quickly disconnect the autopilot using one of three methods:

  • Press the button for the currently engaged mode, which will be colored green on the AUTOPILOT menu
  • Press the OFF autopilot menu option, Button 2 on the AUTOPILOT menu
  • Press the autopilot disconnect switch, mounted on the control stick, control wheel, or possibly on the aircraft’s instrument panel (this is installation-dependent).
Kirk Kleinholz, CFII Sales Manager, Dynon Avionics