One of the most important habits to be in while flying with a glass panel, or any instrumentation that includes an autopilot, is the autopilot annunciations. I like to refer to it as the Autopilot Scoreboard. On the Garmin G1000/Perspective, the Autopilot Scoreboard is located at the top of the Primary Flight Display (PFD).
The GPS Scoreboard and the Autopilot Scoreboard
There are two separate scoreboards to note that are distinctly different located at the top of the PFD. They are differentiated by colors. The top most scoreboard is the GPS Scoreboard, distinguished by magenta colors. This shows the active waypoint and, depending on what type of airplane the Garmin G1000/Perspective is installed in, distance to the next waypoint, course, or estimated time enroute to that waypoint.
The Autopilot Scoreboard is located directly below the GPS scoreboard in a Garmin G1000/Perspective airplane. The Autopilot Scoreboard is distinguished by green colors. It is split up into 3 different sections. The far left section denotes the lateral modes of the autopilot. The center section shows if the Autopilot or Flight Director is on (designated by an AP or FD) and if the Yaw Damper is on. The right hand section denotes the vertical modes of the autopilot.
One of the most important habits when flying with an autopilot is two fold. Prior to pressing any buttons on the Garmin GFC 700 autopilot in a Garmin G1000/Perspective airplane, the pilot should look at the scoreboard and note what modes the autopilot is in, and verify that it is on (or push the AP button to turn it on). Once the pilot’s eyes move to the Autopilot controller and the desired buttons are pushed to engage the proper modes, then the pilot must look at the Autopilot Scoreboard again to verify the autopilot is on and is doing what the pilot wants it to do.
Sometimes, autopilot buttons can be sensitive and can accidentally be pushed more than once, leading to an engagement of the improper mode. The habit of checking the Autopilot Scoreboard after pushing a button remedies this situation.
A habit that I have seen before too is when the Direct To key is pushed, a pilot will automatically go to the autopilot controller and push NAV, even when the NAV mode is already engaged. This results in taking the autopilot out of NAV mode. If the pilot checks the scoreboard before pushing any buttons, this situation is avoided.
The most common mistake I have seen is on a missed approach utilizing the Go Around button. A lot is happening during a Missed Approach, but when the Go Around button is pushed, the autopilot is not going to automatically track the missed approach procedure. The lateral mode of the autopilot is in Go Around (GA) when the Go Around button is pushed, not NAV or HDG. After a missed approach is executed, simply go to the Autopilot Scoreboard and check the autopilot mode.
Building new habits takes time, but a check of the Autopilot Scoreboard will save a lot of head scratching while flying, helping you to fly with confidence.
For more tips and tricks, or to take our Garmin G1000/Perspective Instrument Proficiency Course, where we utilize the Garmin GFC 700 Autopilot in our scenario based course, simply sign up today.