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Using autopilot while formation flying?


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Is there a setting in the autopilot that allows smoother input of the control surfaces? Cause I'm trying to use it during formation flying but control inputs are a bit 'sudden' when using them with AP on.

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Why would you use AP in formation? Turn it off. There's no "smooth" mode - the controls are fine already without the need for joystick curves.

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7 hours ago, WelshZeCorgi said:

Is there a setting in the autopilot that allows smoother input of the control surfaces? Cause I'm trying to use it during formation flying but control inputs are a bit 'sudden' when using them with AP on.

Nope, I only use AP on in formation flying as a lead (and even then only to keep the bank/fly straight/climb, if i want to change angle I disable it for second to keep it smooth), as wingman I fly only manual. If its a long flight, then  well we fly open formation so then perfect positioning is not that important

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The control inputs are sudden because when you couple a plane to autopilot, it increases the force gradient on the controls. It's essentially creating a soft stop that you have to break through to disengage or override the AP. It's actually quite hard to do in a real aircraft.

 

In any case, you should not be using autopilot as a crutch to fly stable formation. Parade should have you constantly on the controls. Cruise a little less jockeying of the power, but still hands-on. IFR Trail is the only time that I've let the autopilot fly formation IRL, and that is to synchronize each plane's entry/exit from climbs, descents, and turns.

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Not sure if you read what he said. He said he uses autopilot to make himself a stable platform as lead for wingment to fly off of. He said he doesn't use autopilot in a wing position.

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9 minutes ago, Slant said:

Not sure if you read what he said. He said he uses autopilot to make himself a stable platform as lead for wingment to fly off of. He said he doesn't use autopilot in a wing position.

If you direct your response to someone or mention someone, please use their names otherwise your statement is not valid, because it's not what he said.

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Posted (edited)

 

10 minutes ago, draconus said:

If you direct your response to someone or mention someone, please use their names otherwise your statement is not valid, because it's not what he said.

 

I have no idea what you are trying to say here. I'm responding to the immediate preceeding two posts. Otherwise I would have quoted. And my statement is valid regardless of your personal approval.


Edited by Slant
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On 6/1/2021 at 7:37 PM, Chuck_Henry said:

The control inputs are sudden because when you couple a plane to autopilot, it increases the force gradient on the controls. It's essentially creating a soft stop that you have to break through to disengage or override the AP. It's actually quite hard to do in a real aircraft.

 

In any case, you should not be using autopilot as a crutch to fly stable formation. Parade should have you constantly on the controls. Cruise a little less jockeying of the power, but still hands-on. IFR Trail is the only time that I've let the autopilot fly formation IRL, and that is to synchronize each plane's entry/exit from climbs, descents, and turns.

Tau is the one who said he uses AP while flying lead. I was replying to the OP who didn't specify position.

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The AP has always felt off to me in the Cat. For example if you have it engaged with ALT switch up, it should be holding your altitude and your roll attitude, but you should also be able to use stick to make adjustments to the roll as desired, etc. But the roll axis feels super janky. If you start rolling and come off the side pressure too much the aircraft stops rolling very suddenly as if it bumped into something solid in the air. It doesn't feel natural to me like an aircraft with mass and inertia. The ED Hornet AP feels more realistic IMO.

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You can't engage the altitude hold without also engaging the master mode (ie. attitude hold). What you're describing is the attitude hold being overridden and then reengaging once the stick input is gone.

 

What I would suggest is disengaging the autopilot, make your adjustments and then reengaging it. That is much smoother and more precise.

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2 hours ago, Slant said:

You can't engage the altitude hold without also engaging the master mode (ie. attitude hold). What you're describing is the attitude hold being overridden and then reengaging once the stick input is gone.

 

What I would suggest is disengaging the autopilot, make your adjustments and then reengaging it. That is much smoother and more precise.

 

I know how the Cat's AP works. Have you tried the F-18's? 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Do these changes to autopilot behavior make it more acceptable for wingmen to use AP while formation flying?

  • Overhauled several aspects of Autopilot behaviour:
    • ALT Hold will now null the rate instead of returning to a set altitude.
    • ALT Hold will now engage only if within +/- 200FPM vertical speed.
    • ALT Hold will not disengage anymore with lateral stick input, but with approx. 10lbs longitudinal pressure (or its equivalent in vertical velocity).
    • HDG Hold will not disengage anymore with lateral stick input. Lateral stick input can now be used for steering in HDG Hold and will set the new heading upon release and leveling.
    • With HDG Hold engaged and if lateral stick input is released within 5° bank angle the AP will level the aircraft now.
    • Fixed ATT and ALT Hold not engaging properly at higher altitudes.
    • The aircraft will roll smoother now if lateral stick input is used during ATT, ALT and HDG Hold.
    • If the aircraft is overbanked or overpitched during ALT and/or ATT Hold, ATT Hold should now return the aircraft to 30° pitch and 60° bank.
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7 hours ago, WelshZeCorgi said:

Do these changes to autopilot behavior make it more acceptable for wingmen to use AP while formation flying?

  • Overhauled several aspects of Autopilot behaviour:
    • ALT Hold will now null the rate instead of returning to a set altitude.
    • ALT Hold will now engage only if within +/- 200FPM vertical speed.
    • ALT Hold will not disengage anymore with lateral stick input, but with approx. 10lbs longitudinal pressure (or its equivalent in vertical velocity).
    • HDG Hold will not disengage anymore with lateral stick input. Lateral stick input can now be used for steering in HDG Hold and will set the new heading upon release and leveling.
    • With HDG Hold engaged and if lateral stick input is released within 5° bank angle the AP will level the aircraft now.
    • Fixed ATT and ALT Hold not engaging properly at higher altitudes.
    • The aircraft will roll smoother now if lateral stick input is used during ATT, ALT and HDG Hold.
    • If the aircraft is overbanked or overpitched during ALT and/or ATT Hold, ATT Hold should now return the aircraft to 30° pitch and 60° bank.

 

Nope, wingmen should never, ever, never, never use autopilot to maintain formation, at least in very close range. There's just no way to ensure you're on the exact same plane of movement as lead when you engage it, so you will either crash into them, or fall out of formation. Lead can use it all day long... lucky buggers!

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