We need to rethink the 'Infinite Flight autopilot'

Hey everyone!

Of all my years playing IF, I’ve had very few suggestions - This app is truly amazing! Today would be the first time in about 7 years of playing IF where I’ve come up with a feature request.

This topic is about the ‘Infinite Flight Autopilot’ …And these are my thoughts on where and how the autopilot can be improved.

Before I go any futher:

  1. I understand that there are limitations to what the developers are able to do… The user experience must be considered based on who is using the app, and there are physical limitations in building an app designed for our devices. As a result, I’ve been as considerate as I could to these realities… Of course we would all love a full on Flight Director with all the bells and whistles, but I’m considerate of the fact that the app still needs to be playable.

  2. I make these remarks in the context of my real world flying experience

  3. I also make these remarks in the context of my personal IF techniques and biases

  4. What I have to say isn’t to be taken as a lack of respect to the app - I’ve been a long time and loyal IF user and had very few complaints :)


So here it is… Please enjoy and let me know your thoughts!

1. Why does the heading bug have to sync to current heading when engaging the autopilot?
How it should work: If you are flying a heading of 090 and your heading bug is set to 180, engaging the autopilot should initiate a 90 degree turn to the right, capturing the selected heading. (The HDG mode of the autopilot should always fly to the heading that is selected by the pilot)

How it works in IF: Engaging the autopilot syncs the heading bug to your current heading, causing you to have to reset your desired heading. This can be frustrating when you engage the autopilot while you are in a turn for example

2. Who do the LNAV and HDG modes operate at the same time, with the HDG bug spinning on its own?
How it should work: If you are in HDG mode and you engage LNAV, you are switching from HDG mode to LNAV mode. In other words, engaging LNAV should normally disengage HDG mode. Leaving your heading bug to be operated independently.

How it works in IF: Engaging LNAV causes the heading bug to spin on its own, in accordance with the LNAV. Even if you disengage HDG after engaging LNAV, you will not have the ability to control your heading bug

3. Why does disengaging ALT mode automatically disengage VS?
How it should work: Tapping on ALT should not disengage VS in my opinion. Simple as that. It gives you more flexibility and it’s an important detail especially on approach. One example for its use is setting the missed approach altitude on final.

How it works in IF: If you are descending and you don’t want the autopilot to capture the selected altitude, you have to either set ‘0’ on your alt selector, or disengage and re-engage the autopilot/VS.

It’s also interesting that you can disengage VS and the ALT will stay engaged. It will just freak out and go back to the VS. Doesn’t really make sense?

4. Why is it that if you’re level at your ALT (VS 0), changing the ALT value will automatically set your VS to a shallow climb/descent?
How it should work: Your current, level, indicated altitude should continue to stay captured if you set a new altitude.

How it works in IF: When you change your altitude selection, VS will automatically set itself to 250fpm. This can be frustrating if you want to set a lower altitude or are cleared to a lower altitude at your discretion, but you want to stay at your current altitude untill you are ready/safe to do so.

5. Changing the ALT selection while capturing the altitude is a terrible experience in Infinite Flight
How it should work: If you are capturing your selected altitude, and you set a new altitude, the autopilot should command the aircraft to maintain the current condition, rather than try to recapture the VS you had originally set.

How it works in IF: If you are capturing your selected altitude, and you set a new altitude, the aircraft will make a desperate maneuver to recapture the VS value you originally had set for the climb/descent. The result is not very “passenger friendly” lol.

Side note: After capturing your selected altitude, you should really be in ALT mode, not VS 0 AND ALT mode, if that makes sense… Similarly to the HDG/LNAV issue, you can only ever be in ONE vertical mode, and ONE lateral mode …with something else armed if necessary of course. (Another example is being in VNAV - You wouldn’t be in VS at the same time. It’s one or the other.) (Example: ‘VNAV’ + ‘ALT arm’)

6. In VNAV mode, your ALT selection should be set by the pilot, not by the app.
How it should work: Your Altitude selection should never change automatically. If you are in VNAV, and you are established at your selected ALT selection, the aircraft should stay at that ALT selection, the vertical speed required to meet the target would increase, and it is up to the pilot to set the new altitude and commence/re-commence the descent.

How it works in IF: Engaging VNAV at the top of descent automatically sets your ALT value and immediately starts a descent. And the ALT value will continue to automatically update throughout the descent when you hit that 2 degree slope are when passing a vertical waypoint. If you increase the ALT value while in VNAV, it will capture that altitude and your vertical speed required will increase which I love! But then the ALT value will just automatically change when crossing a vertical waypoint.

Side note: As you could imagine, this also ties into the issue of not being able to disengage to alt without fully disengaging the vertical part of the autopilot.

Side note #2: VNAV will not work when VS on, ALT sel off

7. A vertical mode normally shouldn’t normally be able to be engaged without a lateral mode and vise-versa.
This is minor but thought I would throw it in… I’ve never flown an aircraft IRL that, for example, has been able to climb in VS but still allow the pilot to be in manual control of their heading. If the autopilot is on, it controls the aircraft both laterally and longitudinally, together

8. Direct-to has issues.
Firstly, You have to use the map to select “direct-to”… I can’t think of a reason why there shouldn’t be a Direct-to button on the legs page. (In the same way you can press “ACT. LEG”)

Secondly, selecting direct to in IF creates a line from the aircraft’s position directly to the waypoint causing the aircraft to turn to try and capture that line when in the real world should create smart turn to the fix. (Just one turn directly to the fix)

9. Pitch and IAS modes.
This has been talked about and I know the developers have looked into this with no success, but I really do believe this is necessary. If this is possible, it would be huge


Thanks for reading everyone!

Nice ideas! But you should add this:
Vnav descends from preset altitudes that you could set in the navigation menu. but if you are lower than the preset altitude, you can’t activate it. i think you should be able to activate it when your below, and climb because when i use simbrief and convert it into an fpl that IF uses. once you get your plan and download it with preset altitudes, it’s annoying to climb each altitude and i think that would be very helpful. Also, it would make things more realistic as that is how it functions in real life. A pilot I talked to in the cockpit say that “We basically always have Vnav on” So, it would make thing realistic and make things easier for the pilot so they don’t have to manually climb the altitudes (as with the website I use to convert for long haul flights have lots of same altitudes to climb to). Along with that, it also comes with set speeds and it would be cool to be able to add preset speeds, and maybe automatically adjust to the speeds you set. the way the team could achieve making altitude changes is by using the same way they control descending and the same way they calculate the VS with a few changes. and i know they might be very complicated, but it would very positive for the community. to achieve the speed, the team could use the same system, with very complicated changes to find the needed power and the needed speed. another thing is they could change it to activate a little earlier so the VS isn’t to much a stalls the aircraft. i’ve also seen in the cockpit for adding preset speeds.
This might be a little much though

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I bookmarked this to consider in more detail when time allows. Thanks for putting your experience into this!

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i booked marked this topic too

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I understand where you are coming from - great point. And I hear ya! VNAV climbs are much more complicated than you would think, and this has been talked about in regards to its application to Infinite Flight… I wanted to keep my suggestions within the limitations that the development team is faced with. But great suggestion indeed :)

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yea, i knew this from the start when i posted it. Its really complicated for a mobile device vs a computer

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I genuinely hate the autopilot system in Infinite Flight. It either overshoots or undershoots every waypoint change on a flight plan, randomly climbs after establishing glide slope, no wind correction, etc. I hope when I get pro again, the autopilot issues are fixed.

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Very well thought out and put together Features topic! This could easily be an ongoing project for the development team. They could release the overhaul in bits and pieces, folded into other, larger updates that carry new aircraft and 3D airports.

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To me, very minor tweaks that would go a LONG way

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I would agree - the autopilot system we have is by a mile the most poorly designed part of Infinite Flight. It’s been like this for ages… It’s time to look into this :)

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I believe a full rework of the A/P is necessary for the future development of IF. ill spare a vote for this!

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I fully agree. And the little things add up.

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I also dislike autothrottle in infinite flight. When I set the new airspeed, the autothrottle just use max throttle to accelerate. Just wonder the real world autothrottle works the same way or not. I think it should be smart and accelerate in a reasonable way.

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It also sucks with maintaining a select speed like being under speed at cruise or over speed on descent

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On all the sim’s I have used, I have always set my FP and then used the AP track some ATC commands like altitude and heading bugs to where they need to be then turn them on when the time is right. The AP in this game feels a little backwards. I have learned to work around it and use it for my needs, but it just isn’t the same as being able to use it as designed.

An example would be 'Fly runway heading, climb and maintain 5000" So I roll the heading bug to 164 (KSEA) and set altitude to 5000. Once airborne and positive rate is achieved, pull the gear and hit the AP while you run through your departure checklist. Instead of having to run it by hand while trying to run lists just takes away from the experience.

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Got a vote from me. I can do without the aircraft reworks for awhile if we knew a revised AP was in the works.

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