What is this feature?
An enhancement to the autothrottle system so that it maps against the various phases of flight and reduces pilot workload (more detailed explanation below)
Why do we need it?
If we’re being honest we don’t NEED it, it is a luxury and a step toward increased automation, but IF pilots do hate getting violations and love a more realistic flying experience. This feature helps address both needs at once by embracing a real world solution that helps eliminate speed violations. And for those that dislike automation, there is an option for you too – don’t use it.
Is there precedent for it in the real world?
Yes, both Airbus (autothrust) and Boeing (autothrottle) offer solutions that served as the inspiration for this feature request. While there are important differences and nuances between those each of those two options and this feature request, the basic purpose is the same – reduce pilot workload by automating speed across the various phases of flight. This can be especially helpful while hand flying in the initial ascent and on short final / visual approaches.
This feature would add two buttons to the HUD:
1.TO/GA: Takeoff / Go-around:
In a takeoff setting (plane is on the ground on a runway) this button would automate thrust settings to target a pre-set N1 for takeoff (up to 1,000ft AGL or some other reasonable benchmark, at which point it would switch to holding the minimum of the present speed or 240 kts)
In a go around setting (altitude <3,000ft AGL or some other reasonable benchmark) it would automate thrust settings to achieve a target speed
2. A/T: Autothrottle:
This button would allow for the selection of four distinct modes:
CLIMB: Automates thrust settings to achieve a pre-set target airspeed under 10,000ft and above 10,000ft during the climb phase of flight
CRUISE: Automates thrust setting to achieve a pre-set target cruise speed (applicable when altitude >10,000ft and VS is set to 0)
DESC: Automates thrust settings to achieve a pre-set target airspeed under 10,000ft and above 10,000ft during the descent phase of flight
APPR: Automates thrust settings to achieve a pre-set target airspeed for certain distance thresholds from the destination (e.g. >7nm, <7nm) and would be linked to the APPR button (last speed target would be retained if you switch off APPR to hand-fly the aircraft for landing)
Ideally there would be the capability to seamlessly transition from one A/T setting to the next based on ALT & VS settings
Pilot interaction would occur on the ground and in the air:
- While on the ground and not on an active runway pilots would be able to set the airspeed / thrust target for each mode using new menus that are deployed when the new buttons are pressed.
- The TO functionality of the TO/GA button would be accessible when on the ground and on a runway
- Remaining modes would be available while in the air, subject to the logical constraints outlined above.
The images below are a mockup of what this could look like in action (apologies for using more than one, but it seemed critical to properly explaining the feature)
I look forward to questions, comments, and feedback. I will do my best to add refinements suggested by the community below.
Additions / enhancements offered by IFC members:
- Add maximum / do not exceed N1 conditions to each of the settings (e.g. do not exceed 90% N1 during climb, would need to think about potential link to VS) - credit to @Dylan_Bright