The Garmin G1000 is an integrated flight instrument system typically composed of two display units, the left one serving as a primary flight display (PFD), and the right one as a multi-functional display (MFD). As an additional feature for the Garmin G1000 installation, there is an integrated flight director and autopilot feature available.
Some, not all, of the aircraft included in the next-generation of Microsoft Flight Simulator has the Garmin G1000 with an autopilot, for example, the Cessna 172, which I use in this guide. There is the Garmin 1000 included in X-Plane too, so this guide applies for it as well. Note, there is no Autothrottle mode in the Cessna 172, so actions for the throttle changes need to be done manually.
- AP – This has to be ON before any of the sub-modes below will work. Before engaging the autopilot system with this button, be sure you check which autopilot modes and preset values you have, or you might experience some unwanted actions by the aircraft.
- HDG – By using the HDG knob, you can preset the planned heading to your Heading Selector Indicator (light blue pointer). Always, set the heading of your departure runway before take-off. This saves you from turning the knob during the initial straight-out climb and keeps your focus on more important things.
- NAV – You can set the correct VOR (or ILS) frequency into the NAV1 by using the NAV knob and the <-> button over the NAV knob (frequency on the right side is the active one), and adjust the radial and ILS localizer course (purple course indicator) by using the triangle CRS knob on the right side of the screen. If you prefer to use the NAV2 frequency or GPS route, you can change the source of course by pressing the CDI softkey located at the bottom of the screen. NAV mode will follow the course radial or pre-programmed GPS route.
- APR – Set the ILS frequency to NAV1, adjust CRS for the right localizer-course, and follow the published ILS procedures. APR mode will capture the localizer and eventually starts descending according to the glideslope.
- VS – After selecting the new target altitude by using the ALT knob, this is the Vertical Speed mode for altitude change, starting from +/- 100 feet per minute, this value can be changed using NOSE UP / DOWN buttons. To maintain the speed, you have to manually move the throttle grip.
- FLC – Same as previous but by selecting this, the aircraft starts to climb/descend by maintaining the current speed, this value can be changed using NOSE UP / DOWN buttons. If you want to change the rate of climb/descend, you have to manually move the throttle grip.
- FD – Flight Director is the purple roof-like pointer in the artificial horizon showing where your pitch and bank angle should be, calculated by the autopilot system. This helps if you want to follow preset autopilot values but don’t want the autopilot to fly itself.
- ALT – Select the altitude where you want to fly cruise or to climb/descend in by using the ALT knob.
- VNV – Vertical Path Tracking Mode helps with the descend assuming a descend path has been programmed into the system. Not needed for basic autopilot usage, that’s why we don’t deal with it now.
- BC – Backcourse mode captures and tracks NAV localizer signal in the back course direction.
- NOSE UP / DOWN – Adjust the rate of climb/descend for VS mode and target speed for FLC mode.