Usage of Autopilot?

Operating an F-16 on the ground or in the air - from the engine start sequence, over replacing a wing, to aerial refueling procedures
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joe_fackel

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Unread post23 Jun 2015, 14:43

I've a question regarding the Vipers autopilot. In what cases is it used and in which mode?

E.g. during approaches / departures, ferry flights etc.
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deadseal

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Unread post23 Jun 2015, 16:06

joe_fackel wrote:I've a question regarding the Vipers autopilot. In what cases is it used and in which mode?

E.g. during approaches / departures, ferry flights etc.


very rarely
really only single ship or when level at an altitude for a long time. there is no approach mode. Its just altitude or attitude, heading or nav (which follows waypoints). It kicks off with the gear.
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s_ellebaut

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Unread post23 Jun 2015, 17:38

deadseal wrote:
joe_fackel wrote:I've a question regarding the Vipers autopilot. In what cases is it used and in which mode?

E.g. during approaches / departures, ferry flights etc.


very rarely
really only single ship or when level at an altitude for a long time. there is no approach mode. Its just altitude or attitude, heading or nav (which follows waypoints). It kicks off with the gear.

Depends even on the block. Older blocks don't have the STRG roll A/P. So no auto following waypoints, only ALT hold & ATT hold.

I've heard some pilots use it in for example a level 30° bank angle for a short holding pattern. Long ferry flights also somewhere it sometimes gets used.
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35_aoa

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Unread post06 Aug 2015, 18:21

Altitude hold is about the only function I use, but it is useful on a long transit at altitude. Most combat jets are similar in this respect....pretty minimal functionality and integration of the autopilot/pilot relief modes, when compared to heavies/transport category aircraft.
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basher54321

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Unread post10 Oct 2015, 19:09

35_aoa wrote:Altitude hold is about the only function I use, but it is useful on a long transit at altitude. Most combat jets are similar in this respect....pretty minimal functionality and integration of the autopilot/pilot relief modes, when compared to heavies/transport category aircraft.



Being in the Navy have you heard of these guys? go to the second chorus:


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LinkF16SimDude

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Unread post10 Oct 2015, 20:37

I'm sure ALT HOLD gets used during piddle pack breaks. Heh heh... (just don't lose tally on that buckle, people)

IIRC, about as so-phisticated as the AP ever got was during the Block 4X LANTIRN days when you could fly a route on Auto TF completely hands-off. But all the drivers I chatted with never moved their hands too far away from the controls. Trust has to be earned. :wink:
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Meteor

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Unread post10 Oct 2015, 22:30

As mentioned above, the F-16 autopilot was very rarely used. A couple of reasons for that:

1. Fighters are almost always flown in multiples of two, and are almost continuously maneuvering in close proximity to each other. There were very few occasions where we'd be straight and level for more than a couple of minutes.
2. If you just need to maintain straight and level flight for a few minutes, the FLCS in combination with the HUD did an admirable job of that. Simply roll wings level, place the HUD FPM exactly on the zero degree (horizon) pitch line, and then don't touch the stick. If the airspeed increased or decreased, the FLCS would re-trim the aircraft to maintain level flight at the new airspeed.

The few times I did use the autopilot:

1. As flight lead on long high altitude legs. I'd have charts , deployment package freqs and notes, crew meals, etc, scattered all over the (tiny) cockpit, and I'd be busy on the radios and radar trying to figure out where the hell the tanker(s) were. The flight lead thrashing around in the cockpit didn't make the wingies job any easier, so I'd turn on the autopilot to give them a more stable platform to fly off of.
2. As mentioned by LinkSim, the autopilot was used when trying to extract a certain critical appendage through multiple layers of thermal underwear, flight suits, poopy suits, and harnesses, and then attempting to stow that appendage without painful lacerations due to zippers and the like. The procedure was to pull way off to the side of the formation (a mile), turn on the AP, spend half an hour trying to relieve yourself without flooding your reclined seat, then returning to the formation before the next refueling.

The Block 40/42 and LANTIRN NVP combination had an awesome AP. I was initial cadre on Block 40 / LANTIRN, following the initial F-15E / LANTIRN operation by only a couple of months. The pilot and WSO were pretty task saturated doing the mission in their two seat aircraft, mainly because at the time the F-15E TFR was not linked to the AP. The Beagle guys warned us about the intense tasking involved, and were pretty sure that we were going to become one with the landscape. We started our night low level ops with some trepidation, but after a couple of months to get familiar. became very comfortable with the system. I took the F-16CG down to 100' AGL, at night, at 720 GS, on the TFR / AP, and felt comfortable with my forearms resting on the canopy towel racks. (That was in Nellis restricted airspace.) We did keep our hands close to the stick and throttles, but that was mainly because that's where the HOTAS controls were to operate the radar, SOI, weapons modes, etc. We got fairly comfortable running a 4-ship around in the dark at 500' AGL, 480 GS, using GMTT to find movers on the roads, and getting two (simulated) AGM-65D shots off per pass. It was a good system. (...and by the way....that was before GPS!)
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35_aoa

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Unread post10 Oct 2015, 23:52

basher54321 wrote:
35_aoa wrote:Altitude hold is about the only function I use, but it is useful on a long transit at altitude. Most combat jets are similar in this respect....pretty minimal functionality and integration of the autopilot/pilot relief modes, when compared to heavies/transport category aircraft.



Being in the Navy have you heard of these guys? go to the second chorus:




for sure, they are classic….."has anyone seen my wingman?"

I remember one evening getting a tanker drag from a KC-10 from Afghanistan back to the boat, and they asked if we wanted to hear some tunes on the boom freq. Said sure, and naturally they play our flight "I wanna land on a carrier". Funny but true….as the sun set in front of us, I knew they had a nice 10k+ ft runway and beers/girls to go home to, while our night would end with a night trap, maybe some popcorn, and spending another night with 5000 of your best friends and no booze :)
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basher54321

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Unread post11 Oct 2015, 23:46

35_aoa wrote:for sure, they are classic….."has anyone seen my wingman?"

I remember one evening getting a tanker drag from a KC-10 from Afghanistan back to the boat, and they asked if we wanted to hear some tunes on the boom freq. Said sure, and naturally they play our flight "I wanna land on a carrier". Funny but true….as the sun set in front of us, I knew they had a nice 10k+ ft runway and beers/girls to go home to, while our night would end with a night trap, maybe some popcorn, and spending another night with 5000 of your best friends and no booze :)



haha - I hadn't heard I wanna land on a Carrier - certainly puts things into perspective! :D
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basher54321

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Unread post11 Oct 2015, 23:57

Meteor wrote:As mentioned above, the F-16 autopilot was very rarely used. A couple of reasons for that:

.....


Interesting write up thanks - first time I've seen anything regarding the TFR and AP being used - guess the tech had progressed a lot since the early F-111A days.
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h-bomb

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Unread post12 Oct 2015, 05:10

basher54321 wrote: Interesting write up thanks - first time I've seen anything regarding the TFR and AP being used - guess the tech had progressed a lot since the early F-111A days.


Ohh the days of ANALOG fly-by-wire!
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boggy123

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Unread post01 Apr 2020, 11:08

Would you use the autopilot in a 30 mins CAP hold?
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tjodalv43

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Unread post01 Apr 2020, 22:13

boggy123 wrote:Would you use the autopilot in a 30 mins CAP hold?

No, usually turns in a CAP are mil power with G to hold airspeed. The autopilot only commands 30° of bank so the turns would be too wide and take too long.
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boggy123

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Unread post01 Apr 2020, 23:07

tjodalv43 wrote:
boggy123 wrote:Would you use the autopilot in a 30 mins CAP hold?

No, usually turns in a CAP are mil power with G to hold airspeed. The autopilot only commands 30° of bank so the turns would be too wide and take too long.


Really? I'm surprised. I thought a CAP would be a leisurely thing to do, if not boring? So your holding pattern is pretty tight then?
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outlaw162

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Unread post01 Apr 2020, 23:17

I thought a CAP would be a leisurely thing to do, if not boring?


That's the thinking that got 3 F-105s shot down by MiG-17s the real first day of the air war over NVN. Lesson learned ages ago.
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