IT-AUTOFLIGHT

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IT-AUTOFLIGHT
Started in March 2016
Description Advanced Autopilot System
Contributor(s) it0uchpods
Status V3.2.3 Stable
The latest IT-AUTOFLIGHT GUI.

IT-AUTOFLIGHT is a modular, light, and advanced Airliner Autoflight system for FlightGear.

Download IT-AUTOFLIGHT V3.2.X from here!

The changelog for IT-AUTOFLIGHT V3.2.X can be viewed here!

History/Information

The standard version of IT-AUTOFLIGHT, modeled after complex jet airliner autopilots.

Version 1.0

IT-AUTOFLIGHT was first it0uchpods's attempt of making the autoflight system in the MD-88 more advanced. It used a modified Generic Autopilot, and a simple nasal logic controller which decided if the modes were active or not, and put them all under one switch. Here is the very first Nasal controller for IT-AUTOFLIGHT. It would print modes into the console mainly for later debug. It was designed to put engaging/disengaging under one switch because it0uchpods didn't know alot about the <enable> tags yet, and did not know complex conditions could be used (like the latest it-autoflight.xml does). This went on for a while, with it0uchpods refining it and adding things like LOC ARM/G/S ARM. Then it0uchpods decided to install the system into other aircraft. This required property moving, and adding new logic for the thrust system, due to the way it had been integrated.

Version 2.0

IT-AUTOFLIGHT got a new nasal file in Version 2.0. It was used to get rid of buttons in the cockpit and dialog having 10 or 12 bindings. Here is logic file for V2. This made integration into other planes alot easier. It still had fully generic controllers. Update 2.7 included automatic altitude capturing. After realasing some stability updates for update 2.9, it0uchpods finally decided to get rid of the generic controllers, and use custom ones. With JWOCKY's help, it0uchpods learned alot about PID Controllers, and installed his own based off the SYS8 controllers. 2 builds were released, V2.10, and V2.11. These included a major update to the dialog, FLCH mode, more advanced logic, and more. However, both were very unstable, and had alot of problems. They were quickly abandoned and replaced with the first V3.0 in development build.

Version 3.0

IT-AUTOFLIGHT Version 3.0.0 was a major update for the system. It had fixed all the stability issues from V2.10, and V2.11. It also moved the engage logic mostly to the <enable> in the PID Controllers. The active modes, however, are still controlled in the nasal file. The 2 nasal files merged into one, and the Autothrottle moved to a seperate XML file, so that custom autothrottle systems can be used. You can now tune the controllers from the -set or -main file, and keep the ability to drop in updates, without needing to retune anything. It also includes a custom pitch system which used the elevator to set pitch, and the trim to keep the yoke as centered as possible. V3.0.0 also had a completely redone filesystem. All the properties are grouped, and renamed for easier understanding. Later on the FLCH controller was changed to 2 PIDs, for better control. Version 3.X will be the final version of IT-AUTOFLIGHT, as it will include all features of a current airliner Autoflight System, except VNAV. IT-AUTOFLIGHT V3.0.0 was released on August 8, 2017, and is technically the first release, despite being V3.0.0.

Version 3.1

Changes include: Roll/Pitch Rate to drive Aileron/Elevator, Autoland Rollout Mode, and many improvements to stability, and operation. It also has new options which make it more modular, and easier to adapt.

Version 3.2

Changes include: Far better and smoother control for almost everything, and many important fixes for various modes. No new features.

Development status

Keep in mind, things may change even if they are marked Done.

  • Magnetic Heading Hold/Select Done Done
  • True Heading Hold/Select Done Done
  • LNAV Done Done
  • VOR/LOC Done Done
  • Altitude Hold/Capture Done Done
  • Vertical Speed Hold Done Done
  • IAS/Mach with Pitch (FLCH) Done Done
  • G/S Hold Done Done
  • IAS/Mach with Throttle Done Done
  • Climb Thrust/Idle Thrust Done Done
  • A/T Retard Done Done
  • Dual APs Done Done
  • Flight Director Done Done
  • Autotrim System Done Done
  • Takeoff Go Around (TOGA) Mode Done Done
  • Flight Path Angle Hold Done Done
  • Autoland Land Done Done
  • Autoland Rollout Done Done
  • For more information, see the changelog here

Installation Instructions

Installing

This guide will teach you how to install IT-AUTOFLIGHT to an aircraft.

Before you Begin

Download the latest version of IT-AUTOFLIGHT V3.2.X from here. Extract the Archive with WinRAR, 7Zip, or similar. If you are using a custom instrumentation file, make sure it contains the <gps> item, as IT-AUTOFLIGHT uses it to get an accurate and stable V/S signal. You also need the property "/position/gear-agl/ft". This property is automatically created by YASim, but for JSBsim you need to add a calculation for it on your own. See instructions below.

Installation

  • Copy the gui, Systems, and Nasal folders from the IT-AUTOFLIGHT folder to the aircraft's folder. Overwrite any conflicts.
  • You may need to remove old autopilot dialogs for the IT-AUTOFLIGHT dialog to appear. Look inside the Systems and gui/dialogs folders.
  • Open the -set file of the aircraft, and find the <systems> area inside <sim></sim>.
  • Add the following inside <systems></systems>
<autopilot>
    <name>IT-AUTOFLIGHT</name>
    <path>Systems/it-autoflight.xml</path>
</autopilot>

If you wish to use the IT-AUTOFLIGHT Default Autothrottle, add the following inside <systems></systems>:

<autopilot>
    <name>IT-AUTOTHRUST</name>
    <path>Systems/it-autothrust.xml</path>
</autopilot>
  • If you do not add this, the A/T button in the IT-AUTOFLIGHT GUI Dialog will do nothing, and in PITCH mode, the pilot must adjust the throttles accordingly. You do NOT need to add this if your aircraft uses a customized autothrottle, as long as that autothrottle is compatible with IT-AUTOFLIGHT. See Interfacing section below for more information.

If you using a JSBsim aircraft :

  • Copy the Systems folder from inside the JSBsim Only folder in the IT-AUTOFLIGHT folder to the aircraft's folder. Overwrite any conflicts.
  • Then, add the following inside <systems></systems>:
<autopilot>
    <name>Gear AGL FT</name>
    <path>Systems/gear-agl-ft.xml</path>
</autopilot>
  • Note: You may need to adjust the value inside the gear-agl-ft.xml to match your aircraft. You can find the value by looking at /position/altitude-agl-ft property.

Now to add the IT-AUTOFLIGHT controller:

  • Find the <nasal> area, which is outside <sim></sim>.
  • Add the following inside <nasal></nasal>:
<itaf>
    <file>Nasal/it-autoflight.nas</file>
</itaf>
======================================================================================
  • Finally, add the following anywhere outside <sim></sim>:
  • Copy and Paste from this file, start at line 6.
  • ITAF CONFIG.txt.
  • This is the default IT-AUTOFLIGHT Configuration. We will be adjusting this later.
======================================================================================

Complete

You have finished installing IT-AUTOFLIGHT. However, I highly suggest to go over the Tuning and Configuration section below, to tune the PIDs to your aircraft, and set up the settings. If you want to connect IT-AUTOFLIGHT to a PFD or MCP, see SDK.

Tuning and Configuration

Below is listed each area of the IT-AUTOFLIGHT Config Module, and what it is used for. We will also discuss how to tune IT-AUTOFLIGHT efficiently.

You can view the Config Module here.

This area is for the tuning of the PID controllers used. These are not hard coded, so users can update IT-AUTOFLIGHT without needing to edit any files. You can also adjust these in the property browser, and they take affect immediately, without needing to reload anything.

config/roll

These adjust the parameters for the Roll Rate PID Controller.

  • kp-low: Adjust the Kp at Approach Speed/Config
  • kp-high: Adjust the Kp at Max Indicated Airspeed (Tune at low altitude for best results)
  • ti: Adjust the Ti.
  • td: Adjust the Td.
config/pitch

These adjust the parameters for the Pitch Rate PID Controller. You cannot adjust the Automatic Elevator Trim Controller at this time.

  • kp-low: Adjust the Kp at Approach Speed/Config
  • kp-high: Adjust the Kp at Max Indicated Airspeed (Tune at low altitude for best results)
  • ti: Adjust the Ti.
  • td: Adjust the Td.
config/cmd

These adjust the parameters for the Command PID Controllers.

  • hdg: Adjust the Kp for HDG/LNAV PID.
  • vorloc: Adjust the Kp for the VORLOC PID.
  • alt-gain: Adjust the gain for altitude error.
config/autoland

These adjust the parameters for the PIDs used for Autoland. Tune the Roll, Pitch, and CMD first.

  • pitch-kp: Adjust the Kp for the V/S PID Controller in LAND/FLARE.
  • yaw-kp: Adjust the Kp for the Rudder VOR/LOC PID Controller.
config/rollout

These adjust the parameters for the PIDs used for Autoland Rollout. Tune Roll, Pitch, CMD, and Autoland first.

  • roll-kp: Adjust the amount of aileron used after touchdown for keeping aircraft wings level.
  • pitch-defl: Adjust the amount of downward elevator deflection after touchdown.
  • yaw-kp: Adjust the Kp for the Rudder/Nose Wheel VOR/LOC PID Controller.

settings

  • auto-bank-max-deg: Adjust the maximum bank limit for the auto bank limit system. (15 - 30)
  • disable-final: Enable (0) or Disable (1) the Roll and Pitch Final Controllers. IT-AUTOFLIGHT will compute target rates and degrees, but not control aircraft.
  • land-enable: Disable (0) or Enable (1) the Autoland System.
  • land-flap: This defines the landing flap for the aircraft. If the flaps are set to less than this, Autoland will not work. (0 - 1)
  • retard-ft: Adjust the altitude for when the Autothrottle goes into RETARD mode.
  • retard-enable: Disable (0) or Enable (1) Autothrottle RETARD.
  • togaspd: Define the V2+15 Speed for T/O CLB SPD by Pitch.
  • lat-agl-ft: Define the altitude when the roll mode changes from T/O to HDG or LNAV, whichever is armed.
  • reduc-agl-ft: Define the altitude when the pitch mode changes from T/O CLB to SPD CLB or VNAV if it is armed, and when the thrust should be reduced to CLB thrust.
  • autoland-without-ap: Allows LAND, FLARE, ALIGN, and ROLLOUT Modes to be armed, and become active even if AP1 and AP2 are off.

How to Tune

So, now that IT-AUTOFLIGHT is installed, how do you tune it to the aircraft? IT-AUTOFLIGHT uses a config module, so you can drop in update to the system, with minor changes required. This also means you can tune IT-AUTOFLIGHT while FGFS is running, no need to reload anything! So lets get started!

  • First, you need to adjust the area of the config module "settings". Once this is done, start FGFS.
  • Takeoff and climb above 2000ft manually. Once above 2000ft, pause the sim (p)
  • I highly recommend following this tuning guide in order, as IT-AUTOFLIGHT uses cascading controllers, tuning out of order may cause system instabilities.

Roll and Pitch

  • Open the Property Browser (/), navigate to "/it-autoflight/config/"
  • Set "tuning-mode" to 1.
  • Now engage AP1 or AP2.
  • Now you can adjust "/it-autoflight/internal/roll-rate" and "/it-autoflight/internal/pitch-rate".
  • Navigate to "/it-autoflight/config" and tune roll, and pitch, using the "roll rate" and "pitch rate" properties to test the configuration. It should be able to handle pitch rate changes from 1 degps, to 3degps, and roll rate changes by 2 degps, and 5 degps. Once roll rate and pitch rate are stable, move on. (Adjust Kp values by -0.01/0.01, or -0.001/0.001, Do not adjust Ti and Td unless you know what they do.

CMD and Autoland

Important Note: Most of the time, CMD tuning is not required to be changed. They should only need changing if the FDM or aircraft is bizarre. Before you tweak the values, try to tune your Roll and Pitch Rate values better.

  • Once those are all working, tune Autoland. Easy way to test: KNUQ RW32R, takeoff runway hdg, climb 2000ft. ILS: 109.55. ARM ILS once above 250ft. Aircraft should intercept ILS.
  • The "autoland/pitch-kp" is for the LAND/FLARE modes. Do not change it unless needed. Lastly, "autoland/rudder-kp" is for the Rudder LOC track.

Complete

The tuning is now complete. Remember to check the CHANGELOG.txt after each IT-AUTOFLIGHT Update, to make sure, nothing needs to be retuned.

SDK

This section will discuss the inputs and outputs of IT-AUTOFLIGHT. These can be used for PFD/MCP interfacing, or building a custom autothrottle, or any other need for communicating with IT-AUTOFLIGHT. I will also list what types of inputs are allowed. (BOOL, INT, etc.)

Inputs: /it-autoflight/input

  • kts-mach: Switches between Speed (0) and Mach mode (1). BOOL
  • ap1: Switches the Autopilot 1 Off (0) and On (1). BOOL
  • ap2: Switches the Autopilot 2 Off (0) and On (1). BOOL
  • athr: Switches the Autothrottle Off (0) and On (1). BOOL
  • fd1: Switches the Flight Director 1 Off (0) and On (1). BOOL
  • fd2: Switches the Flight Director 2 Off (0) and On (1). BOOL
  • spd-kts: Adjusts the Target Airspeed in Knots (100 - 400). INT (Note: IT-AUTOFLIGHT can use higher/lower Airspeed, but it is not recommended.)
  • spd-mach: Adjusts the Target Mach (0.4 - 0.99). DOUBLE (Note: IT-AUTOFLIGHT can use higher/lower Mach, but it is not recommended.)
  • hdg: Adjusts the Target Heading in Degrees (1 - 360, or 0 - 359). DOUBLE
  • alt: Adjusts the Target Altitude in Feet (0 - 60000). INT (Note: IT-AUTOFLIGHT can fly higher than 60,000 feet, but it is not recommended.)
  • vs: Adjusts the Target Vertical Speed in Feet Per Minute (-6000 - 8000). INT(Note: IT-AUTOFLIGHT can use higher/lower FPM, but it is not recommended.)
  • fpa: Adjusts the Target Flight Path Angle in Degrees (-20.9 - 20.9). DOUBLE (Note: IT-AUTOFLIGHT can use higher/lower FPA, but it is not recommended.)
  • lat: Changes the roll mode to HDG SEL (0), LNAV (1), VOR/LOC (2), or HDG HLD (3). INT (Note: Mode 4 and Mode 5 exist, but you should not set this value to 4, or 5. Doing so may cause unexpected functionality.)
  • lat-arm: Set by IT-AUTOFLIGHT Logic. Do not adjust this property. Use the property "lat" instead, and this property will only be set if the roll mode needs to be armed, and not set active.
  • vert: Changes the pitch mode to ALT HLD (0), V/S (1), ILS (2), FLCH (4), FPA (5). INT (Note: Mode 3, Mode 6, and Mode 7 exist, but you should not set this value to 3, 6, or 7. Doing so may cause unexpected functionality.)
  • bank-limit-sw: Adjust the bank limit mode to AUTO (0), 5 Degrees (1), 10 Degrees (2), 15 Degrees (3), 20 Degrees (4), 25 Degrees (5), 30 Degrees (6). INT
  • trk: Switches between Heading (0) and Track (1). BOOL
  • true-course: Switches between Magentic Heading (0) and True Heading (1). BOOL
  • toga: Engage Takeoff or Go Around Mode (1). BOOL (Note: Do not change this value back to (0). The IT-AUTOFLIGHT Logic will do this automatically when necessary.

Outputs: /it-autoflight/output

Note: DO NOT set ANY of these values!!! This WILL cause a malfunction! Only read from them. These values are the output of the logic controller, if a value you need is not here, then it does not go through the logic controller.

  • ap1: Autopilot 1: Off (0), or On (1)
  • ap2: Autopilot 2: Off (0), or On (1)
  • athr: Autothrottle: Off (0), or On (1)
  • fd1: Flight Director 1: Off (0), or On (1)
  • fd2: Flight Director 2: Off (0), or On (1)
  • loc-armed: VOR/LOC: Disarmed (0), or Armed (1)
  • appr-armed: ILS: Disarmed (0), or Armed (1)
  • thr-mode: Thrust System Mode: THRUST (0), PITCH Idle/RETARD (1), or PITCH Thrust Limit (2) (Note: PITCH Idle/RETARD commands the Autothrottle to Idle limit thrust, and PITCH Thrust Limit commands the Autothrottle to use set the thrust to the active thrust limit, like CLB, MCT, TOGA, etc.)
  • lat: Active Roll Mode: HDG HLD/SEL (0), LNAV (1), VOR/LOC Active (2), ALIGN/ROLLOUT (4), or T/O LVL (5) (Note: Mode 3 is not used.)
  • vert: Active Pitch Mode: ALT HLD/CAP (0), V/S (1), G/S Active (2), FLCH (4), FPA (5), LAND 3/FLARE/ROLLOUT (6), T/O or G/A CLB (7) (Note: Mode 3 is not used.)

Text Outputs: /it-autoflight/mode

  • thr: Thrust System Mode: [THRUST - PITCH - RETARD]
  • arm: Armed Mode: [LNV - LOC] or VOR/LOC and G/S Armed: [ILS]
  • lat: Active Roll Mode: [HDG - LNAV - LOC - ALGN - RLOU - T/O]
  • vert: Active Pitch Mode: [ALT HLD - V/S - G/S - ALT CAP - SPD DES - SPD CLB - FPA - LAND - FLARE - ROLLOUT - T/O CLB - G/A CLB]