Heavyjet From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR: Reply 1, posted (13 years 4 months 3 weeks 4 days 9 hours ago) and read 1997 times:
That's a simple question, yet a complicated answer. When can it legally be turned on and off? Depends on the aircraft and company procedures. When do pilots turn it turn it on and off? Depends on the individual pilot and the situation.
The B757/767 autopilot can be turned on above 200ft after takeoff. Depending on the approach being flown it can stay on until the Capt wants to turn off the runway at the destination...assuming the landing was conducted from an ILS to an autoland. If the instrument approach was a non-precision approach, the autopilot must be disconnected no later than 50ft below MDA (fairly standard on most large jets).
The A300-600 is basically the same as above accept it can't be turned on until 1000ft after takeoff.
Most pilots like to hand fly the airplane after takeoff until 10,000-18,000ft then turn the autopilot on. Everyone's different. Most pilots also like to hand fly the approach and landing if conditions permit (wx, traffic, workload etc...)
In highly conjested traffic areas I'll turn the autopilot on as soon as possible after takeoff so I can divert my attention to looking outside for traffic. I think most folks will tell you the same thing.
AAR90 From United States of America, joined Jan 2000, 3434 posts, RR: 49 Reply 2, posted (13 years 4 months 3 weeks 4 days 3 hours ago) and read 1960 times:
American Airlines requires 1000 feet AGL minimum to use autopilot during cruise and (in general) not lower than 50 feet below any decision altitude during instrument approach (excluding autolands obviously).
My personal preference for my typical west coast flight is to hand fly up to cruise altitude (FL240-370) on climb and below FL180 on decent --assumes all is going normally.
*NO CARRIER* -- A Naval Aviator's worst nightmare!