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There are three levels of control in autopilots for smaller aircraft. A single-axis autopilot controls an aircraft in the roll axis only; such autopilots are also known colloquially as “wing levelers,” reflecting their limitations. A two-axis autopilot controls an aircraft in the pitch axis as well as roll, and may be little more than a “wing leveler” with limited pitch oscillation-correcting ability; or it may receive inputs from onboard radio navigation systems to provide true automatic flight guidance once the aircraft has taken off until shortly before landing, or its capabilities may lie somewhere between these two extremes. A three-axis autopilot adds control in the yaw axis and is not required in many small aircraft.
Modern autopilots use computer software to control the aircraft. The software reads the aircraft’s current position and then controls a flight control system to guide the aircraft. In such a system, besides classic flight controls, many autopilots incorporate thrust control capabilities that can control throttles to optimize the airspeed.
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Total Avionix Inc. Palm Beach County Park Airport 2633 Lantana Rd #13 Hangar #312 Lake Worth, FL 33462 Ph. 561-855-8911