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henri5

autopilot when flying without flight plan?

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I understand  how to fly the plane using a flight plan on the FMC with the autopilot. But I am unable to use the autopilot when I take off without a flight plan in the FMC. I can control neither the altitude, nor the speed, nor the pitch, nor the heading with the autopilot, and the autopilot switch will not come on when I press it. Neither can I grab the glideslope when I try to use the ILS although I have the correct frequency and runway heading.  I am sure this must be possible, and I can do it with all other planes including the PMDG NGX and 747, as well as smaller planes like the Turbine Duke nd others.

 

I understand that all autopilots do not work the same, especially with respect to setting an altitude, but I am at a loss on how to use the autopilot on this plane without a flight plan.

 

To be specific, what I am trying to do is to take off from an airport, fly some 30 miles away, and turn around  and to land using the ILS, and I have no problem doing it all by hand, but trying to use the autopilot to reach my desired altitude or to follow a heading results only in the aircraft pitching up or down or turning around in circles.

 

Any ideas?

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Take off, switch the AP on, it will go into HDG HOLD / WING LVL mode. Choose IAS mode and set the IAS with the wheel (usually 180kts for climb). Then you can select the heading and choose HDG mode, the AP will go into HDG SEL lateral mode. If you select an altitude, the AP will go into ALT* and then into ALT mode and level on the selected altitude (watch your speed then). The Q400 has no autothrottle, so manage your speed with power levers. Use the HDG knob to turn. For descent, select the target altitude then get again in IAS mode or choose VSPEED (V/S?) mode and select the vertical speed with the wheel. When approaching the glideslope, hit APPR button. It will bring LOC and GS modes to standby and they will activate when close to the glideslope. Then everything is automatic, except power management.

I find the AP quite straightforward. It's not as advanced as in some larger airliners, but it's sufficient for correct flying and - of course - it is exactly the same way in real world.

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Thx for the info. I had an old version of the 400 software, but I could not turn on the autopilot as you describe. So I downloaded the 1.007 version but have not tried to use it yet. From your description, it should work.

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