Helicopter Autopilot

Hello. Once the SU11 helicopter flight model is in use,
autopilot_available=1 in systems.cfg does not cause AUTOPILOT AVAILABLE, bool to become true. We have developed an autopilot for helicopters and it is
working very well on SU11, however the lack of the sim reporting is causing
these problems: - Unable for users to use normal bindings for engaging modes
(HDG, IAS, master engage etc.) - Unable to take advantage of avionics work
(enhanced flight planning, custom waypoints) that depends on AUTOPILOT AVIONICS MANAGED, bool.

The helicopter flight model prevents using the autopilot managed mode and the
associated new WT framework for autopilot management. This is an urgent issue
because it breaks some third-party aircraft. Is this a bug or a voluntary
thing? Do we have a workaround?

Any chance to have that fixed soon? The fix would be to authorize managed mode
for helicopters when the autopilot available entry is 1 in the systems.cfg

Hello. When you say it “breaks third-party aircraft”, you mean it prevents you
from implementing an appropriate AP but we’re not talking about regressions
here, are we? I’ve not had time to review this question yet but it is in my
todo list. Regards, Sylvain

Hi @FlyingRaccoon. Our H145 is impacted. During SU10 and prior we were able to
take advantage of the same functions as other aircraft. Now that we were
encouraged to switch to the SU11 flight dynamics, we find these functions no
longer available. Our customers had used this experience enjoyed working and
operative avionics and flight planning features during SU9 and SU10. We have
taken the charge to adapt to new helicopter SDK support as it was made
available, now we find that these functions are inoperative without a
workaround. Regardless of whether this is seen as a regression, we request
that helicopters in MSFS be on par with fixed wing with respect to reasonable
platform features.

Thanks for your answer Sylvain. Yes, it’s a regression because something that
was working before is not working anymore with the new helicopter flying
model. This impacts some work we have already done and user experience.
Probably Asobo has considered that the helicopter model is incompatible with
the stock AP manager but at the same time, they avoid any third-party to
create a new AP module because you can’t set the managed mode when the
helicopter flying model is being used. This is probably something easy to
change on Asobo side without any side effects. We need the managed state to be
authorized when the autopilot available entry is true in the systems.cfg file.

Hello @davux3 @pms50 Ok so
that’s a problem because you switched from an airplane to an helicopter
simobject. By doing so, you didn’t change just the flight model simulation,
you switched to a different simulation mode. Some components can be reused but
the autopilot is not one of them. Helicopters have no autopilot at the moment
and require a dedicated development. The bindings and managed mode you are
referring to depend on such autopilot to be developed and will therefore
remain unavailable until it’s done. Regards, Sylvain

Thank you Sylvain. We appreciate nonetheless that you take time to explain the
situation and that you can respond to the community. Being the bearer of bad
news is no envy. Thank you!

Ok, that makes sense. We hope to get it working in the future then.
Helicopters need a way to do a direct To a user waypoint. This is possible
with the WT autopilot and airplane flying model (even with a helicopter).
Switching to a helicopter flying model broke this feature. This currently
appears as a regression from the user’s point of view and it isn’t easy to

I come back to this subject. The helicopter model has an autopilot: the Asobo
one works correctly with helicopters. If Asobo could allow the managed mode
for helicopter models, we could try our own autopilot based on WT technology.
Just allow the managed mode for the helicopter and we could try. Any chance of

@FlyingRaccoon Any time-frame available on this? This year? Next year? It’s quite literally a million dollar question; there are many in development 3rd party helicopters that could make use of such a feature.

The current autopilot is only available with an airplane SimObject, and returns null to the simulation when instantiated by a rotorcraft, so I’m not sure I know what you mean here. It cannot be simply “turned on” for the helicopter flight model because they are not remotely similar control loops.

Additionally, the avionics specific autopilots over the top currently in the sim using avionics managed mode are likewise designed for airplanes only, because their control loops expect airplane physics and drive the sim’s pitch and roll control loops. It is not presently on our roadmap to alter these to take into account the totally different way rotorcraft would need to be controlled (like using strictly pitch for various vertical modes which is a broken paradigm in a rotorcraft). We (on WT at least) are honestly not remotely knowledgeable enough about rotorcraft to implement such an autopilot.

My recommendation to those developers would be to use the functionality available in JS or C++/WASM to intercept the autopilot key events and create their own control loops appropriate for their specific rotorcraft models.

Thanks Matt for your answer.
I understand key events intercept and GPS OVERRIDEN but not sure about what avionics managed does exactly and why the sim prevents setting it with helicopter models. Could you explain a little more?

Avionics managed mode is a mode inside the airplane autopilot that really only has a single purpose: it disables the sim autopilot driving the airplane autopilot mode simvars and switches them from read only to read/write. It as a concept or code doesn’t really exist outside of the airplane autopilot itself. So, switching to avionics managed mode when an autopilot itself doesn’t exist doesn’t really make sense conceptually.

It’s quite a daunting task for 3rd parties with limited experience in process control systems. Might as well write an autopilot for a real helicopter. Only difference is your data comes from simvars instead of an AHARS.

Has a helicopter autopilot built into the sim progressed any further?