Using the Autopilot - V5

How does the autopilot work? (X-Plane V5)

The autopilots can be labelled all kinds of ways by the cockpit designer. This may contribute to some of the confusion when using the X-Plane autopilots.

OK, here's a screenshot of the of the 5.66 777's autopilot panel. The 777 has a custom panel, so the appearance of the AP controls comes from the panel designer. However, the arrangement of the controls is fixed by X-Plane. There are actually two instruments here: the autopilot settings across the top, and the mode selection buttons underneath. The instruments are combined here, but could be separate on other planes. Let's take it from left to right and top to bottom.

Top row:

IAS/MACH: Airspeed setting for auto throttle.

HDG/TRK: Magnetic heading selection for heading hold. (Also displays as the heading bug on the HSI and directional gyro.)

ALTITUDE: Altitude target for altitude hold.

VS/FPM: Vertical speed in feet per minute, used for both altitude hold and vertical speed mode.

Bottom row:

A/T - auto throttle or SPD HLD (speed hold). Holds the indicated speed dialed into the autopilot.

HDG HLD - heading hold using the heading bug.

GPS - GPS heading hold. Hold the heading direct to the currently active GPS airport or navaid displayed.

LOC - NAV2 heading hold
VOR - NAV1 heading hold - holds the selected bearing on the VOR the NAV1 or NAV2 receiver is tuned to, or holds the selected localizer course if NAV1 or NAV2 is tuned to a localizer.

ALT HLD - altitude hold (if you're not at that altitude, the vertical speed selection will be used as the descend or climb rate to reach that altitude)

V/S - vertical speed hold - fly at the selelected vertical speed.

G/S - glideslope hold. NAV2 altitude (glideslope) hold.
APP - approach hold. NAV1 altitude (glideslope) hold.

The sequence of the auto pilot buttons are fixed. Designers can not "unbundle" these. So once you know the sequence of the buttons, you know what they are used for irrespective of the "fancy" labeling that a designer may use to make it look like the real thing.

You will also notice that if there is no GPS, the GPS button will disappear and there will be an empty space in that position. Ditto if there is not a VOR1 or a VOR2 instrument in the cockpit. X-Plane automatically eliminates buttons from this fixed autopilot instrument when the corresponding instruments do not exist in the cockpit.

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