Avionics News May 2022 - 54

series
BY THOMAS INMAN
Autopilot Basics
T
his month's Theory & Practice column marks
the start of a four-part series describing the basic
theory of autopilot technology. Autopilots can be
found in many general aviation aircraft, and they are almost
a necessity in general aviation aircraft flown for business
purposes. Autopilots can be simple or complex, but all share
common theoretical underpinnings. For brevity sake, this
four-part series will focus on fixedwing
aircraft. The theory for rotorcraft
is the same, but the flight controls are
different.
To understand automatic pilots, one
must gain an understanding of the flight
controls used to change the attitude of
the aircraft in flight. Ailerons, spoilers
or a combination of the preceding
are used for roll control. An aircraft
will roll around its longitudinal axis.
Elevators, stabilators or in some cases,
ruddervators, are used for pitch control.
AUTOPILOTS CAN
BE SIMPLE OR
COMPLEX, BUT ALL
SHARE COMMON
THEORETICAL
UNDERPINNINGS.
An aircraft will pitch (nose up or down) around its lateral
axis. The rudder is used for yaw control, and the aircraft will
yaw around its vertical axis.
For discussion purposes, autopilots can be divided into
three main parts. The first part is the reference; the second
part is the computer/amp; and the third part is the servo. In
addition, autopilots are available to control single, two or all
three axes of the aircraft.
References
An autopilot needs to sense the attitude or position. To do
this, the autopilot will be connected to a special instrument.
54 avionics news * may 2022
When the aircraft is flying so all
axes are stable, the references will not
produce any error signals. Changes in
pitch, roll or yaw attitudes will cause the
reference to produce an error signal. The
error signal could be a DC voltage, AC

Avionics News May 2022

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Avionics News May 2022

Avionics News May 2022 - Intro
Avionics News May 2022 - Cover1
Avionics News May 2022 - Cover2
Avionics News May 2022 - 1
Avionics News May 2022 - 2
Avionics News May 2022 - 3
Avionics News May 2022 - 4
Avionics News May 2022 - 5
Avionics News May 2022 - 6
Avionics News May 2022 - 7
Avionics News May 2022 - 8
Avionics News May 2022 - 9
Avionics News May 2022 - 10
Avionics News May 2022 - 11
Avionics News May 2022 - 12
Avionics News May 2022 - 13
Avionics News May 2022 - 14
Avionics News May 2022 - 15
Avionics News May 2022 - 16
Avionics News May 2022 - 17
Avionics News May 2022 - 18
Avionics News May 2022 - 19
Avionics News May 2022 - 20
Avionics News May 2022 - 21
Avionics News May 2022 - 22
Avionics News May 2022 - 23
Avionics News May 2022 - 24
Avionics News May 2022 - 25
Avionics News May 2022 - 26
Avionics News May 2022 - 27
Avionics News May 2022 - 28
Avionics News May 2022 - 29
Avionics News May 2022 - 30
Avionics News May 2022 - 31
Avionics News May 2022 - 32
Avionics News May 2022 - 33
Avionics News May 2022 - 34
Avionics News May 2022 - 35
Avionics News May 2022 - 36
Avionics News May 2022 - 37
Avionics News May 2022 - 38
Avionics News May 2022 - 39
Avionics News May 2022 - 40
Avionics News May 2022 - 41
Avionics News May 2022 - 42
Avionics News May 2022 - 43
Avionics News May 2022 - 44
Avionics News May 2022 - 45
Avionics News May 2022 - 46
Avionics News May 2022 - 47
Avionics News May 2022 - 48
Avionics News May 2022 - 49
Avionics News May 2022 - 50
Avionics News May 2022 - 51
Avionics News May 2022 - 52
Avionics News May 2022 - 53
Avionics News May 2022 - 54
Avionics News May 2022 - 55
Avionics News May 2022 - 56
Avionics News May 2022 - 57
Avionics News May 2022 - 58
Avionics News May 2022 - 59
Avionics News May 2022 - 60
Avionics News May 2022 - 61
Avionics News May 2022 - 62
Avionics News May 2022 - 63
Avionics News May 2022 - 64
Avionics News May 2022 - Cover3
Avionics News May 2022 - Cover4
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