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An autopilot is a system used to control the trajectory of an aircraft without constant 'hands-on' control by a human operator being required. Autopilots do not replace human operators, but instead they assist them in controlling the aircraft. This allows them to focus on broader aspects of operations such as monitoring the trajectory, weather and systems.
The autopilot is often used in conjunction with the
The autopilot system on airplanes is sometimes colloquially referred to as "George".
In the early days of aviation, aircraft required the continuous attention of a pilot to fly safely. As aircraft range increased, allowing flights of many hours, the constant attention led to serious fatigue. An autopilot is designed to perform some of the tasks of the pilot.
The first aircraft autopilot was developed by
Further development of the autopilot was performed, such as improved control algorithms and hydraulic servomechanisms. Also, inclusion of additional instrumentation such as the radio-navigation aids made it possible to fly during night and in bad weather. In 1947 a US Air Force
In the early 1920s, the