IPACS

Getting To Know Your Copilot

Aerofly FS 2 and Aerofly FS 2019 have an easy to use simulated copilot that can take the controls pretty much at any time during the flight. It offers functions from basic speed and attitude stabilization to fully automatic features like takeoff, landing, flying a full traffic pattern to flying the entire route for you. You can sit back and relax and enjoy the views or release the controls to get a cup of coffee. The copilot will keep flying for you.

Basic Copilot Functions

Engage - Basic Stabilization

When you engage the copilot via the on/off button on the copilot overlay or with your assigned key (default key is “c”) or button command the copilot will engage and stabilize your aircraft. If the aircraft is upset it will try to roll to wings level and level off.

  • Speed: Stabilize the speed and maintain it
  • Lateral: Stabilize bank angle and either maintain it or roll wings level and maintain present heading
  • Vertical: Stabilize pitch and angle of attack and then maintain current climb or descent angle

In this basic stabilization mode the copilot won’t engage the aircraft’s own autopilot and the copilot also won’t interfere with any of the aircraft’s systems.

Press the button again to disable the copilot and resume manual flight.

Faster/Slower

The faster and slower buttons increase or decrease the speed target of the copilot. The current airspeed target will be visible in the flight info bar at the top of the screen or on the primary flight displays, if the aircraft has an advanced autopilot.

  • Press the faster button to increase the speed target 1kt at a time
  • Press and hold the faster button to increase the speed 5kts at a time until it hits the maximum airspeed or you let go of the button
  • Press the slower button to decrease the speed target
  • Press and hold the slower button to decrease the speed 5kts at a time until the minimum airspeed you let go of the button.

Note that if you engage more advanced modes like takeoff, landing or route the speed will be managed for you unless you press the faster/slower button. That regains manual speed control.

Center

The center button neutralizes the attitude of the aircraft one at a time. The center button will be green as long as the mode is not finished stabilizing.

  • Press and hold the center button: It will always roll wings level and level off right away.
  • If the aircraft is upset it will engage the copilot and try to roll wings level and maintain altitude and speed.
  • When the bank angle is high it will engage and maintain the current bank angle
  • When it’s already maintaining bank angle and you press the center button again it will roll wings level
  • When you are already wings level and you press the center button again it will perform a level off.
  • When you press it again it then stops the level off and maintains present flight path angle instead. It repeats the last two steps when you keep pressing the button.

The copilot will engage the aircraft’s autopilot on heading mode and vertical speed mode or altitude hold mode whenever it can.

Left/Right

Pressing the left/right arrow buttons usually engages the heading mode and the copilot will turn towards the direction that you pressed and then roll wings level again.

  • Single presses step the bank angle or heading target
  • Press and hold the button to change the target faster

When the copilot is currently maintaining a constant bank angle you can increase or decrease that bank angle with the left/right buttons as well. If you manually level the wings and maintain that attitude for a bit the copilot will revert back to heading mode.

Up/Down

The up and down arrow buttons change the target climb or descent angle.

  • Single taps on the up/down arrow buttons step the target flight path angle at an equivalent 100ft/min.
  • Press and hold the up/down arrows to fly a -0.2g or +0.2g maneuver until you let go of the buttons, then it maintains the present flight path angle again.

Altitude Increase/Decrease

Once you have pressed any of these two buttons the copilot will notice that and remembers to level off at that selected altitude. When you disengage the copilot and engage it again it will discard and selected altitudes again unless you select an altitude again.

  • Pressing the altitude buttons increases or decreases the selected altitude 100ft at a time.
  • Press and hold the button to increase or decrease the target altitude at rate of 1000ft

Fully Automated

Takeoff

The copilot can perform a takeoff for you. For this to work the remaining runway needs to be long enough and you should be lined up with the runway that you want to take off from.

  • Press the takeoff button to engage the takeoff mode, it will highlight the button in green.
  • Press the takeoff button again to abort the takeoff

The copilot checks the flap setting and arms the ground spoilers (if needed) and advances the throttle for takeoff. At rotation speed it starts pulling back and tries to perform a gentle rotation. After lift off it will retract the landing gear. At roughly 1200 to 1500ft of altitude it decreases thrust to climb and accelerates towards the clean speed. If you don’t do anything else it will select flaps up as soon as it can and then leave takeoff mode by maintaining current heading, flight path angle and speed. If you selected a route it will automatically engage the route follow mode after takeoff.

Route

You require a fight plan to be setup that the copilot can follow.

  • Press the route button to let the copilot follow the route.

This function lets the copilot fly back to the route (takeoff if necessary), track the planned flight plan to the destination and land there. The copilot will perform all necessary checklists and flows, set flaps, extend or retract gear, add spoilers if needed, arm them for landing or takeoff, change the lights, tune radios, switch the navigation sources, etc.. Sit back enjoy the flight as a passenger.

The copilot will turn on the autopilot as he sees fit. It will also change the navigation source to the flight management system and engage LNAV if possible.

Landing

The copilot can fly a complete traffic pattern and land at the nearest airport or at the route destination.

  • Fly towards the airport that you want to land at. As soon as the nearest airport in the top right corner of the flight info bar is indeed the desired airport and the landing button is visible you can press it to engage the landing mode.
  • You can also align yourself with the runway you want to land at and engage the copilot with this button to land the airplane for you.
  • The landing mode engages automatically when you are in route mode and close to your destination, the copilot then selects the destination runway as defined in the flight plan.

Notes Regarding The Landing

The copilot can theoretically land at any airport on any runway unless there is terrain in the way in which case it will happily fly into it. The airport that is selected for the landing is always the nearest airport as shown in the flight info bar, even if you are pointing directly at another airport. The current algorithm just looks at the nearest airport and then selects the best suitable runway depending on wind direction, available runway length and other factors. The copilot will always try to fly a complete traffic pattern unless you are already lined up with the centerline which means that it might do some strange looking turns to get you back onto the traffic pattern from your current position. When there is no terrain around you just let it do its thing and it should look like a decent pattern after the first few initial turns. Currently sloping runways are treated as flat which means it might land long on a downhill sloped runway or do a rough landing when it slopes up.

The copilot then extends flaps and the landing gear, slows down to pattern speed and finally approach speed as it makes the last turn to line up with the centerline of the runway. It then performs some final landing checks such as arming the ground spoilers and tuning on the landing lights. It aims for roughly 50ft above the threshold and then flares the aircraft depending on the height above ground. After touchdown it either reduces the pitch angle (for tricycle gear) or keeps pulling back to lower the tailgear and the copilot adds brakes to slow down the aircraft whilst maintaining the centerline until the aircraft reaches a complete stop. Finally it disarms the spoilers, resets the pitch trim for takeoff and keeps holding the brakes until you advance the throttle to continue taxi. You may also disengage the copilot before it comes to a complete stop.

Hidden Copilot Features Under-The-Hood

The Aerofly FS 2019 Copilot does many features for you that are not controlled via the copilot interface. For example it can automatically trim the aircraft when you are manually flying or arm the spoilers for landing and takeoff. Some of these features can be enabled or disabled in the control settings of the mobile version.

Upset Recovery

When engaged the copilot will constantly monitor your airspeed, angle of attack, bank and pitch angle. It will then lower the nose to keep the speed above stalling speed and if necessary bring the airplane wings level and level off.

  • When you find yourself in an upset state you can engage the copilot to try and recover.

Holding Brakes

When you are stopped and hold the brakes full the copilot will latch the brakes for you so that you can let go of the button. It also holds the brakes for you when you start the flight so that you don’t roll away unintentionally on idle thrust.

  • Fully hold the brakes when the aircraft is stopped to engage this feature.
  • Advance the throttles for a brief second to continue taxi.

Speed Hold

The copilot can be used to only maintain speed.

  • To engage the speed hold function just press the up or down arrow buttons on the copilot overlay without selecting anything else.
  • Press the copilot on/off button to disable the speed hold.