Autopilot setup

Good afternoon

Should the autopilot values be set before takeoff for example speed and altitude etc


I set them before takeoff


What speed and altitude to you normally set at if you dont mind me asking


It depends on where you’re flying. For example:

For KLAX to KSFO, I pre-calibrate my AP to the following:

ALT 29000
SP 255 (above FL280, M0.84-0.87)
HDG - Runway Heading to ensure straight out departure as much as possible.

Mostly, your plane can fly itself with AP. It’s essential to have a thorough flight plan.

I use LNAV after I’ve crossed the runway exit threshold to turn to my next waypoint.
Once I’ve reached my cruising altitude, I enable VNAV because I’m not yet sure how to calculate my Top of Descent. The aircraft will then automatically descend.

I also make sure that I add the landing runway as NAV1 in the RWYS tab of the destination airport. This ensures that aircraft equipped with APPR mode can autoland with ILS.

Hope you enjoy! If you have any further questions about AP or flight planning, feel free to DM me.

Safe Travels!



I set the ALT before takeoff because speed and heading automatically set to whatever you’re at.

I hand fly until at least 20,000 feet and every landing from the downwind leg because I like being a pilot, not a computer user

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250 to FL010 and then 320 to cruise. If I’m heading east I fly at 37500 and heading west I fly 38500.

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Shorter flights I fly at 27000 or 26000

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Its is generally a good habit to set the autopilot for the altitude, but as for speed it doesn’t matter what you set, i mean lets say you set 240kts, but as soon as you press the autopilot it will automatically get set to your current speed lets say for example 200kts you then have to again manually increase/decrease the speed in autopilot, also in can case of heading as far as i remember its the same as soon as you click the heading button it’ll change to you current heading, you then have to turn it manually to change the heading.
Hope this helps.

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Before VNAV was introduced what i used to do was i would use this formula, decend 10000 per 50 nm so lets say we are at 30000 feet i would start my descend around 150nm from my destination.

Depends on plane/range/speed.

  • Speed: Under 10,000ft I set it to 250knots, to comply with the speed limit (you will learn this in training and expert server) then afterwards I set it to 340knots, which most aircraft can operate at without an overspeed warning (I mainly fly Bombardiers and larger jets, light aircraft may not be able to handle this speed)
  • Altitude: I set it to thousands values, usually as soon as I take-off. For short journeys (<1hr), which you would usually do in a smaller jet, such as a Bombardier or Airbus A318, I set it to 16000-20000ft. For medium range, with aircraft such as an Airbus A321 or A330, I set it to 24000-28000ft. And for long range, with aircraft such as the Boeing 747 or Airbus A380, I set it to above 30,000ft (you may want to do step climbing due to weight. Note: When the wind is against you, lower altitudes are better as these headwinds will be lighter
  • LNAV/VNAV: I set up the waypoints before take-off. However I do not enable LNAV if it is a sharp turn from the airport until after the runway has finished. For VNAV, I calibrate and activate it at cruise, so I can calculate the optimum descent and it gives something to do at cruise.

I hope this little but long guide helps you!


It is a good idea to bug your V2 speed on your AP regardless so that you know what speed to pitch for during the takeoff. This helps especially with aircraft that have virtual cockpits and is a real-life procedure flown on most aircraft. Typically after 1000 feet AGL, then the nose is lowered and speed increased to 250 knots until 10,000 feet MSL, then increased further based on aircraft higher than that

I just set all that up when I’m at the gate

What altitude and speed to you normally setup

It depends, but on short to medium haul flights I set altitude anywhere from 30,000 to 39,000 and usually step climb to the higher altitudes. It just depends on my load, distance and if I’m in a small or large plane. I also use the IRL cruising speeds for different aircraft (i.e. Mach 0.78 for the 737, or about 290-295 knots) but I always set my speed to 250 knots under 10,000 feet

For long hauls, I typically start at a lower altitude, like 28,000 to 34,000 and can step climb all the way up to 41,000 feet; be sure to space out when you step climb, and do it slowly, only about 500 fpm

Finally for planes like the CRJ, I’d recommend flying a bit lower but speed is usually the same. For light aircraft, such as the 172, my speed is from 100 to 120 knots and I rarely exceed 8000 feet in altitude; my only exception is in the TBM where it can cruise at up to around 290 knots and 22,000 feet


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I generally set mine according to the SID


Set runway heading , speed and SID altitude restriction

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