Sunday, March 28, 2010

Autopilot Disconnect

Sometimes I read so many manuals that the words scramble themselves and I can't tell what they mean any more. But sometimes it's not me, it's them. The truth is, my autopilot is so mad, that even the manual disconnects unexpectedly.

The Century Flight Systems, Inc. Lateral Guidance System contains. Track interception angles a completely automatic, analog computer that directs the autopilot in both VOR and ILS navigation. The system contains a five position mode selector switch which mounts in the instrument panel are 45° and an automatic 15° crosswind correction capabilities is provided. The complete capture, intercept and tracking sequence is accomplished automatically without monitoring or multiple switching.

What? It's some sort of scrambled puzzle. Here are the pieces:

  1. The Century Flight Systems, Inc. Lateral Guidance System contains
  2. .
  3. Track interception angles
  4. a completely automatic, analog computer that directs the autopilot in both VOR and ILS navigation.
  5. The system contains a five position mode selector switch which mounts in the instrument panel
  6. are 45° and an automatic 15° crosswind correction capabilities is provided.
  7. The complete capture, intercept and tracking sequence is accomplished automatically without monitoring or multiple switching.

Reordering 1-4-5-2-7-3-6 we get an almost coherent statement:

The Century Flight Systems, Inc. Lateral Guidance System contains a completely automatic, analog computer that directs the autopilot in both VOR and ILS navigation. The system contains a five position mode selector switch which mounts in the instrument panel. The complete capture, intercept and tracking sequence is accomplished automatically without monitoring or multiple switching. Track interception angles are 45° and an automatic 15° crosswind correction capabilities is provided.

The only problem is that "an automatic 15° crosswind correction" is a capability, not capabilities, plural. Can anyone solve the puzzle to make it an entirely readable paragraph in natural English? Perhaps the answer will result in the key to keep the actual product online for an entire flight.

Please, if you assemble or install autopilots or write equipment manuals, go easy on the liquor, and on the cut and paste options.

The autopilot seems like a skilled copilot in that it is usually very good at holding headings and altitudes, but it is actually a really poor copilot in that it it will not tell you if it is feeling unusual control forces and will never remind you of any other task. It is just a super fixated control manipulator, with no actual piloting skills. Narcolepsy is not the least of its problems.

7 comments:

Angus said...

Assuming said manual is for a Century III, it was likely written during the era of REAL cut-and-paste, which I remember all too well. Even less excuse then.

Here's the same paragraph from a less intoxicated IIB manual -

The Century flight Systems, Inc. Lateral Guidance System contains a completely automatic, analog computer that directs the autopilot in both VOR and ILS navigation. The system contains a five position coupler mode selector switch which
mounts in the instrument panel. Nominal interception angels are 45° and an automatic 15° crosswind correction capability is provided. The complete capture, intercept and tracking sequence is accomplished automatically without monitoring or multiple switching.

Wayne Farmer said...

Angus, could you send me one of those interception angels? I could use a miracle or two about now.

Angus said...

Hah! That'll teach me to cut-and-paste!

Mark Richards said...

"The system contains a five position mode selector switch"..

It can't do that.

In total, very painful reading.

Basic English language difficulty in life-critical areas such as aviation are inexcusable.

Sarah said...

Very amusing. I suspect someone copied brochure text which was in two columns - and just read across instead of down. This someone did not understand at all what was being copied.

It's sort of like the weirdness you see when a spelling corrector overrides a human. Or, my favorite, the music lyric mondegreen.

'scuse me while I kiss this guy
-- not Hendrix

But back to autopilots. I have to admit I've never used one... never been able to afford the class of a/c with one that works. So I fly the way god intended, by hand. I recall an early president of Eastern ( I think ), quoted by Ernie Gann... misquoted by me: "I'm not installing autopilots! I'm not paying pilots to sit on their hands!".

BLauer said...

My Guess? It was written by an engineer. Don't worry I am allowed to make fun of engineers, I'm one of them.

Ben.

majroj said...

"I

AM

JOB.


TANK YOU."