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Flight Director - evil or genius?


Yurgon
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I've still got a lot to learn in DCS Black Shark. On the other hand, flying the shark has started to feel like second nature. Especially in combat missions, focussing on actually flying the heli isn't the problem anymore (sure, it's diffcult, but not overwhelmingly so).

 

However, it appears my method of flying the shark is very different from the "official" method as far as stabilization is concerned - because I keep the Flight Director button switched on most of the time.

 

I've read dozens of threads concerning trimming and controlling the heli, and >90% of the time the answer is "keep trim pushed until in control of all axes, then un-trim and possibly re-trim a little after that".

 

In my experience, the Flight Director button is the ultimate solution to most of the trimming and control problems. Once I learnt to engage the 3 most important stabilizers (heading hold, pitch hold and roll hold) and then added FD on top of that, my flying suddenly felt natural, smooth and satisfying (of course, I still trim after every major change on any of the axes). Whenever I disengage FD, it feels like I have to fight the aircraft, it feels like the problem is not POI but AOI (Aircraft induced oscillation).

 

IMO, with FD on it is very easy to fly a specific heading/attitude or maneuver widly on all axes - whatever you want. It's also extremely simple to disengage FD and engage Route Mode to follow the autopilot and then regain full control by simply activating FD again.

 

So... why is it the preferred way to not use FD? To me, FD feels like the "make the flight smooth" button, but obsiously, people are discouraged to use it, so there must be some reason my type of flying the shark is wrong.

 

[Edit: Where the post reads POI and AOI for "Pilot Induced Oscillation" vs. "Aircraft Induced Oscillation"], the acronyms should of course read PIO and AIO instead if POI and AOI.


Edited by Yurgon
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FD is my preferred method in combat, you can defensive manouvre quickly and the manual control is great.

 

I don't have force feedback and I find the ctl enter not immersive.

 

So I use trim only for long routes, setting a hover and stabilizing.

 

But I fly mostly without much trim.

 

If I had ffb stick then maybe I would switch back, but when I started learning focussing on trim was what held me back.

 

Now I'm so used to manual flying I can just fly with no FD with a lighter touch and just hover trim

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...

 

So... why is it the preferred way to not use FD? To me, FD feels like the "make the flight smooth" button, but obsiously, people are discouraged to use it, so there must be some reason my type of flying the shark is wrong.

 

The Flight Director gives you "manual" control with input dumpening and without attitude hold functions.

 

Flight Director requires your attention all the way. FD will add more workload to you and, unless you need to engage enemies, can be avoided. In case you are traversing through safe or open areas you have no reason to engage FD. Having the Attitude Hold functions will make your life a lot easier once you master it.

 

In general I find it quite easy to fly without FD on. It helps you focus on other things.


Edited by isoul
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I find myself flying mostly with FD on and switching it off only when needing to hover.

 

Feels good to me the fact you are in control and flying the heli all the way. FD off may be the way it is done in real, but within simulation I have better this way.

 

And I don't see people discouraging it... maybe in the past people were more vocal about it. Ultimately its your choice and neither one is wrong.

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Maybe i'm the only one but i find flying with FD off is not a problem anymore.Since we don't have rudder pedals FFB it requires more precise trimming(little inputs),but the response of the commans seems equal to FD mode.For example in FD mode off i can make aggressive turn with full left/right pedal,90° of bank and 3g and when i come out from the turn i can put the nose where i want and the AP holds it without efforts

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Ithink it's fine.... the fact is, the way we fly the shark is probablyNothing like how it should be flown in combat.

So with that in mind, I think it is ok to use FD if you orefer it.

 

I personally don't use FD 90% of the time, and only really engage it if things are about to get seat-of-the-pants

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I fly with FD on 95% of the time. I disengage it only when I have to take a closer look at the ABRIS or in boring route mode flying. The AP reduces the work load of the pilot and the chance to crash so that's probably why real pilots should fly with FD off most of the time.

 

Neither system or way of flying is better, both have their advantages depending on the situation.

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Autopilot in BS makes it become a flying robot and the pilot a robot operator. I think that's not good for our pilot's egos. But the truth is that is a war machine, not a sport car, and it must be flown as it is designed to be flown.

 

Fortunately is a simulation and each one can do whatever likes the most.

The truth is that BS with FD on is a real joy to fly because is like a tamed helicopter thanks to the very little rudder corrections it needs compared to standard single rotor chopers.

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With FD you have a centre point you set. Holding the trim, your centre point is at the old position, until the trim button is released.

 

Nate

 

aha, thanks. so much details BS has to try to remember but every little detail counts.

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Because in fact you want to do the least flying possible, and most looking out/combat tasking that you can.

 

The Ka-50 isn't meant to be flown manually. It does things for you so you can do other things. The reason you struggle with it - that you fight with it - is probably because this particular concept is alien to you.

 

Another concept that's probably alien to most people in the combat flight sim crowd is 'no violent/wild maneuvering'. That is the result of mistakes, and it can and will lead to more mistakes often.

 

So... why is it the preferred way to not use FD? To me, FD feels like the "make the flight smooth" button, but obsiously, people are discouraged to use it, so there must be some reason my type of flying the shark is wrong.

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I would argue that what is chosen as the 'standard operating procedure' is the 'right way' to fly. You can do whatever you like with it in your flight sim, but if you want to learn and understand what the big boys do and why, you fly the SOP.

 

Neither system or way of flying is better, both have their advantages depending on the situation.

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True, I was talking about the simulation of course. I can fly both ways comfortably, with or without FD, but I deliberately choose FD most of the time because of the joy of flying the Ka-50.

 

But in reality there would only be one way, you are right.

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Yep ... I personally consider flying with 'FD ON' as something you should do as a first step - ONLY to learn how to fly the chopper. No weapons and whatnot involved.

With FD ON you are 'simulating' a training helicopter that does not have or does not use these autopilot channels :)

After this, you should start using DF.

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The Ka-50 isn't meant to be flown manually. It does things for you so you can do other things. The reason you struggle with it - that you fight with it - is probably because this particular concept is alien to you.

You're right about that, it does feel weird to have the aircraft do the flying for me, although I use auto hover and route mode a lot; it's great to have the bird help me get to the target area hands free and to have it hover - again, hands free.

 

What's left is the part with manual flying. And right there, I see no gain or bonus in keeping a button pressed (and a finger busy) during any maneuver. In my opinion, this adds to the pilot's workload. Besides, in my HOTAS setup, trim is assigned to an index finger button, so I wouldn't be able to pull the trigger and maneuver at the same time.

 

So far, I think I'll stick to my bad habit. :-)

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I've had this sim since the eng.ver were released.

I have countless hours logged, mostly just flying.

I've never even used FD.

I get where I'm going, usually at top speed, making wide, wide, turns.

I know I'm not doing it right, but when I get time I learn a little more, and I can definitely take out some hardware, that's good enough for me, as the knowledge accumulates within my neck ornament.

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You're right about that, it does feel weird to have the aircraft do the flying for me, although I use auto hover and route mode a lot; it's great to have the bird help me get to the target area hands free and to have it hover - again, hands free.

 

What's left is the part with manual flying. And right there, I see no gain or bonus in keeping a button pressed (and a finger busy) during any maneuver. In my opinion, this adds to the pilot's workload. Besides, in my HOTAS setup, trim is assigned to an index finger button, so I wouldn't be able to pull the trigger and maneuver at the same time.

 

So far, I think I'll stick to my bad habit. :-)

 

I only have the stick, i hold the trim button with my thumb only when trying to leave a hot zone immediately, say an incoming missile for example but this is bad because i can't fire flares with my thumb!! so i have to use my left hand which is awkward. So in situation like this, would it be comparable just to enable FD instead of holding the trim?

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So in situation like this, would it be comparable just to enable FD instead of holding the trim?

I think it's pretty much the same, so switching on FD instead of holding down trim should free up your thumb in this situation.

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No, in those situations you use the emergency AP disengage.

But note that on the real heli, those flare dispensing buttons are far, FAR from the stick. In fact, you probably shouldn't have it on your stick at all - you should HAVE to reach for it on your keyboard ;)

 

Further, most missile escape maneuvers are probably done smoothly, in a chopper at least. If you just panic and throw the heli around you're more likely to get yourself killed than if you follow a simple but relatively standard way of evasion. And there are moments where no matter what you do, you're hosed anyway - you can't evade AAMs or SAMs in a Ka-50 by violent maneuvering ... only with decoys and cover.

 

In addition, IIRC in the new patch the AP won't fight your turn once you exceed something like 3deg/sec. Just bank, pull, trim to hold the turn and then trim out of the turn. Much more natural with FFB but eh.

 

I only have the stick, i hold the trim button with my thumb only when trying to leave a hot zone immediately, say an incoming missile for example but this is bad because i can't fire flares with my thumb!! so i have to use my left hand which is awkward. So in situation like this, would it be comparable just to enable FD instead of holding the trim?

Edited by GGTharos

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No, in those situations you use the emergency AP disengage.

 

would this disengage all AP channels? oh boy, if so i will be in big trouble.

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What, you're going to reach for the FD button with a missile coming at you? ;)

 

By definition you have an emergency and the only thing you'll be focusing on now is FLYING the chopper, and absolutely nothing else, right? ... because it's not like you can evade a missile by out-maneuvering it, therefore you have to FLY to a safe location while dispensing CMs. As long as you're focusing on flying, you're ok with everything popped 'off' for a short time.

 

would this disengage all AP channels? oh boy, if so i will be in big trouble.

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