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Home > Fear of Flying > Scared through lack of understanding
Scared through lack of understanding
Flying - Fear of Flying
Sunday, 10 July 2011 17:35

Airplane Movie – Autopilot

Hi Captain Lim,

I am traveling to Australia in two weeks time (with Korean Air) and suffer from a terrible fear of flying. I have looked all over this site (Which is amazing) and I would like to ask you some details about the auto-pilot.

I am really keen to understand all the different elements, such as auto thrust, direction, altitude, etc and if they are all linked together?

I watch videos where the throttle is pushed to full by the pilot and I was under the impression that the thrust was automatically calculated?

Also, a very general question about when it is typically engaged? Is it at a set point and do pilots use it to control altitude, before they get it to control speed and direction of the plane.

Any final reassuring words of wisdom you have on Korean Air would be greatly appreciated as although they offer a great service and have improved, I am still very concerned about their (and my) safety!

Greatly appreciate your dedication to this website, you are a great man.


Dear Nick,

It takes years for a pilot to master the plane in order to fly you safely to your destination. So it would probably take me many pages to explain all you wanted to know about the automation that controls the thrust, direction, altitude and many other things about the plane.

However, I will briefly give you an idea on how this is done to calm your fears about flying as I have explained about the autopilot in a previous answer here.

The aviation industry has progressed a lot through the years and flying has become very safe through the use of automation.

In most modern planes there are many computers that control the power (just like the cruise control in your car), the direction, altitude and others. They are then linked to another computer that feeds the autopilot.

Yes, the pilot uses a knob to control the speed, altitude, the direction, etc; it can be in any sequence and the autopilot would then react accordingly. In the most unlikely event of any failure of the automation, the pilot takes over manually and brings the plane safely back to earth without any problem as they are well trained to do so.

Korean Air has greatly improved on their safety records and I have no qualms about traveling on their planes today.

Wish you a pleasant flight to Australiaalt.

PS. To check for any latest updates or postings, you can follow my new Twitter at @CaptKHLim

Korean Air first Airbus A380


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