QuadPlane AUTO Missions

You can ask the QuadPlane code to fly AUTO missions, with everything from automatic vertical takeoff, to mixtures of fixed wing and VTOL waypoints and automated VTOL landings. The result is an extremely versatile aircraft capable of long range missions with vertical takeoff and landing.



The most common use of VTOL mission commands in a QuadPlane is an automatic VTOL takeoff. To use a VTOL takeoff you plan your auto mission as usual with your ground stations mission editor, but instead of a NAV_TAKEOFF command for a fixed wing takeoff you instead use a NAV_VTOL_TAKEOFF command for a VTOL takeoff.

The only parameter to a NAV_VTOL_TAKEOFF is the altitude above the takeoff point where the takeoff is complete. Once that altitude is reached the aircraft will move to the next waypoint, transitioning to fixed wing flight as needed. The latitude and longitude of the NAV_VTOL_TAKEOFF command is ignored.


There are several ways to perform an automatic VTOL landing. The simplest is to include a NAV_VTOL_LAND command in your mission. That command should use an altitude of zero, and have a latitude and longitude of the landing position.

When using NAV_VTOL_LAND it is important to have the right horizontal spacing between that waypoint and the previous one. As soon as the aircraft starts on the NAV_VTOL_LAND waypoint it will transition to VTOL flight, which means it will start flying much more slowly than it does in fixed wing flight. So you need to put the previous waypoint the right distance from the landing point. If it is too far from the landing point then the aircraft will spend a lot of time in VTOL flight which will waste battery. If it is too close to the landing point then it will have to stop very abruptly in order to land.

For most small QuadPlanes a distance of between 60 and 80 meters from the last waypoint to the landing point is good. For larger faster flying QuadPlanes you will need a larger distance.

Also make sure the altitude of the last waypoint is chosen to be within a reasonable height of the landing. The VTOL landing approach will be done at whatever height the aircraft is at when it starts on the NAV_VTOL_LAND waypoint. So you would typically want the previous waypoint to have an altitude of about 20 meters above the ground.

Return to Launch

An alternaive to using a NAV_VTOL_LAND command is to use a RETURN_TO_LAUNCH command, and to set the Q_RTL_MODE parameter to 1.

The advantage of using a RETURN_TO_LAUNCH with Q_RTL_MODE set is that the aircraft will automatically use fixed wing flight until it gets within RTL_RADIUS of the return point. That makes it easier to plan missions with a VTOL landing from anywhere in the flying area.


Mixing VTOL and Fixed Wing Flight

To mix fixed wing and VTOL flight in one mission you can use the DO_VTOL_TRANSITION command in your mission. A DO_VTOL_TRANSITION command takes a single parameter. If the parameter is set to 3 then the aircraft will change to VTOL mode. If the parameter is set to 4 then it will change to fixed wing mode.


In the above example the aircraft will do a VTOL takeoff, then it will fly to waypoint 1 as a fixed wing aircraft. It will then switch to VTOL mode and fly as a VTOL aircraft through waypoints 4 and 5, then it will switch back to fixed wing flight to reach waypoint 7, before finally flying home and landing as a VTOL aircraft (assuming Q_RTL_MODE is set to 1).

Hovering in a Mission

By setting the Q_GUIDED_MODE parameter to 1 your quadplane will handle loiter commands in GUIDED mode and in AUTO missions as a VTOL aircraft. For example, the following mission:


the aircraft will pause while hovering for 10 seconds at waypoint 3. It will fly the rest of the mission as a fixed wing aircraft. This can be very useful for getting good photographs of a number of locations in a mission while flying most of the mission as an efficient fixed wing aircraft.

Guided Mode

In addition to AUTO mode, you can also use a QuadPlane in GUIDED mode. To use VTOL support in GUIDED mode you need to set the Q_GUIDED_MODE parameter to 1. When set, GUIDED mode behaviour will change so that the position hold at the destination will be done as a VTOL hover rather than a fixed wing circle.

The approach to the guided waypoint will be done as a fixed wing aircraft. The transition to VTOL flight will begin at the WP_LOITER_RAD radius in meters. This should be set appropriately for your aircraft. A value of 80 meters is good for a wide range of QuadPlanes.

When hovering at the destination in GUIDED mode if a new GUIDED destination is given then the aircraft will transition back to fixed wing flight, fly to the new location and then hover again in VTOL mode.