When Do You Turn On/Off Autopilot in Flight?

When do you turn on and off autopilot while in flight?

I usually turn it on after the first target altitude of the SID I’m using or if there’s no target altitude in the SID I’d just turn it on after passing 7000ft MSL
I usually turn off the Speed function of autopilot just prior to turning base when landing. While I turn off the entire autopilot once I’m established on the localizer and glideslope and have armed the ground spoilers and extended the landing gear.


I usually turn it on once I’ve taken off and everything is in shape for the flight ahead.

I usually tune it off just before final on Approach ready for me to prepare the instruments for landing.

Almost the same as you. ;)


When I engage A/P:

I turn it on once my gear is fully retracted and I am sure that my aircraft won’t crash and burn.

When I disengage A/P:

I disengage when I am confident that I won’t crash and burn on final.


So, AP is never disengaged? :D

I couldn’t resist, lol.

Too many variables. I have no set routine. Depends on the SID, weather, flight, my mood. Sometimes I’ll hand fly the entire procedure and other times I’ll let AP takeover after performing any initial climb instructions.

Usually I’ll have the AP in complete control until I’m about to intercept the localizer. Then I take over everything except Auto Throttle. That gets disabled any time after I’m at my final approach speed and before reaching minimums, or immediately upon a go-around.

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I start out with autothrottle turned on once I reach 200KIAS as what is limited for class B, C, and D airspaces in the lowest tier (Surface to 4000ft usually unless out of a . However, as with SOP for some aircraft such as the 747 i set it once I reach 230KIAS or if I am taking off at an airport above 4000MSL I am not settinv it until 250KIAS. I set AP heading once I have finished the initial turn to my FPL and engage NAV only once I am above the second tier of the airspace (4000-8000ft usually) as to not interfere with traffic in the area. I set altitude and climb rate once I have turned on the autothrottle.


I turn everything off once I am set on the ILS or making my turn to establish in the ILS. I turn NAV off once I am on the STAR.


NAV should always be turned off when with approach ATC in IF


I only turn off autopilot when I accidentally hit it and then my plane proceeds to crash!

But in all seriousness,

Turning on Autopilot -
Speed - Once I hit 250knts
Altitude and VS - Once my VS is naturally where I want it (if I’m gonna climb at 2200ftpm, I wait till my plane reaches that)
NAV - Depends on type of departure, if straight out, once I’m out of the cone. If not, once I’m 700-1000ft above the runway.

Turning off Autopilot -
Speed - Once I’m 500ft above the runway.
NAV, Altitude and VS - normally when I enter final and start my final approach.

One thing i’m noticing that’s become very common is pilots taking off and immediately setting LNAV once they are in the air without any regards for any traffic to the right or left of them (parallel takeoff’s for example). Would be nice if that trend came to an end. I personally takeoff heading straight out keeping my heading and don’t turn on autopilot until I am well over 10,000 feet and safe from any traffic around the area.

When i’m inbound, i turn off LNAV usually 50-75nm away, specially if there’s an approach frequency open. I manually takeover, callibrate and hand fly when i’m about 20nm from the airport.


I usually set altitude before entering the runways and do not turn on the auto throttle until the speed hits 220KIAS (already passing 1500AGL) and then set the climb rate afterwards.
And I would turn on NAV once I finish the initial turn towards my FPL.

I would turn off the autopilot right before settling on the localized, except NAV, which would be disengaged when I put the gears down 5-6nm to the runway.

I usually turn it on a bit after takeoff.
I usually turn it off when I am on the localizer but keep speed on until I am on short final.

I set autopilot as soon as i takeoff. I first set the VS and altitude, then the NAV and the speed. When landing i first turn off NAV, then altitude and then speed. I start this when im on final.

I usually hand fly till first waypoint and then turn nav I continue hand flying altitude till 10,000 and speed I put on when I’m steady speed and set it

I usually turn nav off after last waypoint or till I’m on glide slope and speed and altitude I turn off when turning final I never use APPR it hates me and I hate it but depending on weather is how long I use it i foggy I normally use autopilot till minimums same with wind

When I take off

When I’m about to land

Pfft who needs AP

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I turn it on when I’m about 400ft AGL, and turn off when I,m about to intercept the localizer.

I turn on just about passing 2,500 I
I turn off right when I have lined up with glide slope and localizer

I’ll usually use the autopilot in the same way as others who have posted above, but I tend to leave the autothrottle on until short final.

On: 5000 - 10000ft depending on weather circumstances
Off: 15,000 feet

Here is my method:

Before takeoff, I go ahead and input my desired cruise altitude. I takeoff manually and engage the HDG around 400 AGL. The climb settings come later into the climb, depending on the flight environment. I use autopilot throughout the flight, usually disengaging the NAV setting on downwind (the nav setting can sometimes skip your BASE leg if your waypoints are too close together). Once established on a final heading, around 12-10 miles from the runway, I disengage autopilot (to get the inevitable nose-drop out of the way) but quickly re-engage the auto throttle. I use auto throttle until about 1000 AGL, then its all manual from there.

*disengaging the autopilot about 10 miles out prevents you from dropping significantly on short final. For some reason, the nose drops once AP is turned off. In my opinion, its better for this to happen at 3500 AGL versus 700 AGL.

on when I pass 2000 Feet, I then turn on speed control, once I pass 3500 feet the Altitude, VS and nav come on (and they don’t come off unless of an emergency)

off when I am on my base turn, I turn off the nav, vs and altitude, when on short final I disable the speed and try to butter :D

ON: I normally engage NAV around 500 AGL, and altitude, speed, and VS shortly after.
OFF: I turn off NAV on base or final, I keep the altitude and VS (adjusting to match glideslope, of course) until I drop my gear maybe 5 nm out. I disengage speed over the runway threshold

You can prevent that. Right before you’re about to disengage altitude, calibrate your device, and then, as fast as possible and without moving your device, disengage the AP