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Concorde has an Automatic Flight Control System (AFCS), which in the 1970s, at the time when it was installed within the aircraft, was state of the art. There are in fact two mains parts to the AFCS, the Autothrottles and the Autopilot, but there are also a number of other associated systems. It was designed to allow “hands off control” after take-off during Concorde’s climb out through to landing.

Concorde Automatic Flight Control System (AFCS)

The majority of the controls for the AFCS ( autothrottles and autopilots) are group together above the pilots instrument panels, on the glareshield. This allows them to be in easy reach of both pilots



On the left are the autothrottle controls. The two ‘piano keys’ engage them and the buttons are pressed to select the various mode of operation: MACH HOLD and ISA HOLD, which causes the system to maintain a particular Mach number (Airspeed), and IAS ACQ, which demands the speed set in the selector.

Both autothrottles can be engaged at the same time.

One will be active, while the other follows up, ready to take over if the first one fails.


The autopilot controls take up the rest of the panel. The two control switches engage them. Only one can be engaged at a time, except for back-up purposes. There are five horizontal and twelve vertical modes.


The autopilot is so comprehensive that you could justifiably wonder what need there was for the pilot at all. Whether landing in fog, coping with turbulence or just following a track, an autopilot has nothing else to do but the task it has been set. 


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