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Chapter 6.1
Flight Director System
In a Flight Director system (FDS), Pitch and Roll commands are computed to achieve or
maintain a particular condition of flight, which is then applied manually by the flight crew. The
Flight Director is able to combine information from various sensor input sources, and display
them as a series of Pitch and Roll commands. This reduces the scan, simplifies the
interpretation and removes the need for the flight crew to analyse the inputs before making the
necessary control inputs. The commands from the Flight Director computer are also modelled
so that any command given will not unduly over stress the airframe.
Flight Director Architecture
The Flight Director System is made up of the components and displays illustrated in the
diagram below. It also shows the range of input sources and flows within the system.


Flight Director Computer (FDC)

Mode Selector Unit (MSU)

Signal amplifier
Annunciator Panel



Attitude Director Indicator (ADI)

Horizontal Situation Indicator (HSI)

Flight Director Control Inputs

In its operation the Flight Director display receives Pitch and Roll Commands from the Flight
Director System Computer, which may form part of the Automatic Flight Control System, or may
be completely independent. The system typically receives inputs from the sources, which are
shown in the diagram below.

These sources are:Vertical Gyro. Pitch and Roll attitude are prime to the system and essential to all
computer modes. Any manoeuvre will require to be referenced to a pitch and/or roll
attitude. Any failure of the attitude reference will thus result in a total failure of all Flight
Director functions. The pitch and roll inputs may be derived from a Vertical Gyro unit, or
more commonly from the gyro stabilised Inertial Navigation System (INS), or from the
Inertial Reference System (IRS).
Compass. Magnetic Heading inputs are required for the heading hold and select
functions of the system. Compass information is also an essential input during the radio
modes of operation, where any heading deviation signals will be obtained from the
Remote Indicating (Gyro Magnetic) Compass (RIC) System.
Localiser/VOR. The VHF Navigation Unit provides inputs for the tracking of VOR
radials, and for the capture and tracking of the Localiser. The localiser inputs may be
used as a pure lateral navigation function or may be displayed in combination with glide
slope derived commands during the approach phase.
Glide Path. The Glide slope receiver provides inputs to the computer, equating to the
direction and degree of displacement from the glide path during the approach phase.
As a condition of the selected modes, when the pitch channels of the computer are
processing the glide slope deviations, the roll channels will also be generating localiser
Air Data Computer. The ADC provides signal inputs related to IAS, Mach, Vertical
Speed and Altitude. A Flight Director Computer may also generate commands based
on any, or all of these inputs.



The Flight Director Computer (FDC)
The information derived from the various sources is processed, in a solid-state digital computer,
and depending on the setting on the Mode Control Unit (MCU), will provide the necessary
attitude and steering commands. These commands will then be fed to the displays, or
alternatively to the Automatic Flight Control System (AFCS).
Mode Control Unit
This unit allows the flight crew to communicate with the FDC, regarding the phase of flight, and
a typical example is shown below.

Flight Director Displays

In its simplest form, the display of the Flight Director consists of an indicator having Pitch and
Roll Command Bars or V bars, as shown below, which are often combined with those of the
attitude indicator.

Movement of the Pitch Command bar up will require the aeroplane to be positioned by pulling
the control column back until the command bar is centred, as shown below.



When the command bar is centred, it indicates that the required pitch attitude has been
achieved, and that the control column should similarly be centred at this point.
Conversely, movement of the roll command bar to left or right will require the aeroplane to be
rolled to the left or right, in order to centre the command bar, and to satisfy the computed
command, as shown on the next page.

By virtue of the fact that the command bar deflections are the resultant of a combination of
system inputs, they should not be regarded as positional to acquire a required state. They are
simply a command for change in Pitch and/or Roll attitude, eg:

Pitch Command Bar UP

Roll Command Bar RIGHT -

Pitch Up
Roll Right

Alternatively if the delta and WING type of display is used the following commands will be



Flight Director Modes of Operation

The following modes of operation are available:Attitude Mode. With no other modes selected, this is the basic function of the system.
The command bars will be positioned to hold the pitch and roll attitude at the time the
Flight Director was switched ON. Any deviation from this datum will be sensed by the
Attitude Reference, VG, and will result in corrective Pitch and Roll Commands being

In many systems if the aeroplane is in a near wings level state, typically 3 - 5, the
Flight Director Command bar will call for wings level and from this point, datum to wings
level and Magnetic heading hold.



Some Flight Directors have the facility where the command bars can be re-datumed by
the flight crew. This is achieved via a switch that enables the command bars to be recentred at a particular pitch and roll, or by a thumbwheel that that enables the pitch
command bar to be accordingly repositioned, as shown below.

The following explanations assume that the Attitude and Flight Directors are separate
instruments, but these are more usually combined together on the same instrument, as
an Attitude Director Indicator (ADI).
With Heading selected the Flight Director roll bar will command the
aeroplane to fly to the Pre-Selected Heading, and subsequently to hold that heading.
To achieve this the computer will receive inputs from the attitude reference source, the
VG, and the course from the compass system.
Either Pitch Attitude or Altitude Hold are compatible and available in the Heading mode,
and when the aeroplane is flying on the selected heading the command bars will be
centred, as shown on the next page.

If a new heading is subsequently selected, a heading error, ie. the difference between
the selected and actual heading, will position the roll command bar accordingly.



As the aeroplane is banked to satisfy the command the attitude reference will input to
the computer a roll attitude signal, which will oppose the signal error. When the
established bank angle is appropriate to the heading change required, the heading error
and attitude signals will cancel. The roll command bar will then centre, and the control
wheel will be returned to its centre position.

With the aeroplane banked and turning the heading error will steadily be reduced, which
will result in the computer commanding opposite roll, in response to the attitude input, to
roll the aeroplane out onto the new heading.
With the aeroplane on its new heading, the command bars and control wheel will again
be centred, as shown on the next page.
The heading/bank angle commands, which are determined by the computer are limited,
primarily for passenger comfort, and typical maximum bank angle limits will be between
30 - 35.



Altitude Hold. If this mode is selected the attitude hold mode will automatically be
cancelled, and will provide appropriate pitch commands to hold the existing altitude.
This mode is compatible with all lateral command modes, and also with the Glide slope
mode, until the glide slope is captured.
Having selected this mode, any deviation from the datum altitude will result in pitch
commands being generated. In response to the pitch command, a pitch attitude signal
will be applied to the computer, and will oppose the altitude error signal.

Signal summation and the resultant command generated will be similar to that in the
heading mode.
A sophisticated Flight Director may have a number of Pitch modes, eg. IAS Hold, Mach
Hold, Vertical Speed, and some may have the facility to provide commands relative to
Vertical Navigation profiles generated by the Flight Management Computers. In
common however, they all allow only one pitch mode at any one time to be engaged.
Localiser/VOR (LOC/VOR). This selected mode is identified through the frequency of
the particular navigation aid that has been tuned on the VHF Navigation Control Unit.
VOR provides the facility for tracking a selected VOR Radial, although the word Course
is more appropriate since the Flight Director facilitates passage over the VOR station
and continued guidance relative to what would now be an Outbound radial.
In the VOR mode the aeroplane equipment will automatically sense any over-station
condition or Cone of Confusion, and will provide Flight Director Commands in a
memory capacity during the relatively short over-station condition.
The Localiser mode will provide for Capture and tracking of the Localiser signal. Apart
from VOR over-station consideration the principles of Localiser mode operation will
apply equally to VOR. In this mode the computer will construct its roll commands
around the Radio deviation signals that are generated as a result of the aeroplane being
to the left or right of the localiser. Importantly the computer will also sum the radio
deviation signals with the heading inputs that correspond to the Runway Inbound
Course or QDM. In the case of a VOR this will become the QDM, or the reciprocal
dependent upon whether the aeroplane is flying To or From the station. The
Heading input is necessary since there is NO content in the radio deviation signal that
tells the aeroplane how far it should fly to the left or right to reduce the error. In an
extreme case if an aeroplane were to be well to the left of the localiser it would fly to the
right in circles unless the radio deviation signal was co-ordinated with the heading.
Importantly all manoeuvres require to be co-ordinated against pitch and roll attitude.
The following diagram shows how the Flight Director roll commands are computed
relative to Radio deviation, Attitude and Heading. The arrows identify the sense of the
input signals to the computer.



1. The aeroplane is wings level and is positioned to the left of the localiser,
which will result in the Fly Right Localiser deviation signal giving a Flight
Director Roll Right command.
2. As the aeroplane is banked to the right, the attitude error and radio
deviation signals will oppose each other. The roll command bar will thus
be centred, and the aeroplane will turn towards the runway centre-line.
3. As the aeroplane turns away from the runway Magnetic Heading a Roll
Left signal will be commanded, and the aeroplane will roll out until the
wings are level.
4. The aeroplane is wings level and approaching the runway at an optimum
angle. The heading error and radio deviation signals now act in
opposition to each other, and the roll command bar is centred.
5. The radio deviation signal is slowly diminishing, and the predominant
heading error will result in the Flight director Computer commanding
Roll Left in order to reduce the relative angle to the runway centre-line.
6. The aeroplane will continue to roll out onto the centreline using coordinated radio deviation, roll attitude and heading signals.
7. The aeroplane is now on course and lined up with the runway centre-line.



Glideslope (GS).
This mode provides for the capture and tracking of the
Localiser/Glide slope, when the UHF Glide slope frequency is paired with the Localiser.
With the mode selector switch in the Glide slope detent, and the ILS frequency tuned,
Localiser and Glide slope deviation signals will be directed to the computer.
The heading mode may be used to set up an initial approach to the Localiser beam, or
Altitude Hold may be used as a pre-capture mode for the glide slope. When the
aeroplane is within the capture area for the localiser the mode selector will be
positioned to Glide slope. The Flight Director will now generate the necessary roll
commands and once the Glide slope is captured the Altitude Hold mode will be
automatically disconnected. The diagram below shows the typical command indications
when the Glide slope mode is selected.

1. The start of the Capture phase. Altitude Hold disconnects and the
computer disregards the initial Fly Up signal, thus preventing commands,
which would call for the aeroplane to Pitch Up to acquire the Glide path.
2. The aeroplane is on the Glide path, with zero Glide slope deviation, and no
pitch attitude error present.
3. The aeroplane passes through the Glide path and the computer responds
to the Glide slope Fly Down by commanding Pitch Down. As the
aeroplane assumes a nose down pitch attitude, it results in an increased
Pitch Attitude Error signal, in opposition to the Glide slope signal. An
Integrator circuit within the computer then builds up a signal in opposition to
the VG Pitch Attitude signal, and pitch commands are displayed in order
to enable the aeroplane to be positioned on the Glide path.
4. The aeroplane is now on the Glide path with a slightly nose down pitch
Go-Around (GA). This mode is selected for a go around after a missed approach,
and the computer will signal the command bars to instigate a wings level pitch up



attitude. This mode is also automatically selected if the GA button on the throttle is
Mode Annunciator
This unit provides a visual reminder of the mode selected by the flight crew, and is usually in the
form of a panel showing a number of coloured lights, with one light for each mode. When a
mode is selected, the appropriate light illuminates.
The Mode annunciators are sometimes solely dedicated to the Flight Director, whilst others
combine both the FD and AFCS modes, with the FD annunciators normally sited on the left
hand side, and the AFCS annunciators on the right hand side of the EADI.
Operation of the Attitude Director Indicator
The flight crew will select the pitch attitude for initial climb prior to take-off, by manually
positioning the command bars on the instrument. On take off, the flight crew will rotate the
aeroplane until the delta fits into the command wings, at which point the climb attitude will
have been achieved.

As the aeroplane approaches the preset target, the FD command bars will indicate the
corrective action necessary in order to achieve the required transition to the new flight path. If,
for example, the aeroplane is to climb to a specified cruise altitude, when the altitude acquisition
signal is sent to the flight directors computer it will generate a Fly Up command. The flight
crew will then fly the attitude that will place the aeroplane symbol into the command wings. As



the aeroplane approaches the target altitude the computer will generate a Fly Down
command. The flight crew will then reduce the pitch attitude of the aeroplane progressively until
the attitude for a level cruise is reached, as the designated altitude is reached.
If an essential input fails in flight it will be displayed to the flight crew by red flags, which are
easily identifiable by appropriate text as follows:

GS. This flag will drop over the glide slope scale if the glide slope signal fails or is
alternatively sufficiently weakened.

GYRO. This flag will appear if the attitude information input fails.

COMPUTER. This flag will appear if the system detects a failure in the computer outputs
or command signals.

The Horizontal Situation Indicator (HSI) Flight Director Commands

On a typical instrument a compass will dominate the instrument display, as shown below, which
is driven from the heading reference system (RIC or IRS), and rotates against a lubber line.

At the centre of the display is a fixed aeroplane symbol, and inside the compass ring is the
symbology, which represents lateral guidance signals, similar to the ADI display. The
symbology typically consists of:

a course arrow adjusted/set by the course set knob.



a course deviation bar driven by signals from the VOR/LOC receiver (as
appropriate)a course deviation scale on which each dot represents a displacement
of 1 from the selected course or localiser.

a TO/FROM flag that indicates whether the selected course is extending TO or

FROM the VOR, which will disappear when a localiser frequency is selected.

In the RNAV mode, each dot will normally represent a 1NM displacement, but in the
RNAV APR mode the scale will be altered so that each dot represents NM.

To the left of the indicator is a glide path scale, which replicates the glide path indications on the
ADI, and digital read outs are also provided. The range figure is determined from a DME while
the flight crew select the course. For intercept purposes the flight crew may also manually
select a heading, which will directly adjust the position of the heading bug on the compass card.
The warning flags on the HSI, like the ADI are red in colour, and are identified by appropriate
text, as follows:GS. This flag will appear if the glide slope signal fails, and will cover any Glide slope
COMPASS. This flag will appear if the heading reference fails.
VOR/LOC. This flag will appear if the VOR or localiser (as appropriate) signal fails.



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