Flight Modes

This article provides links to Plane’s flight modes.


Plane has a wide range of built in flight modes. Plane can act as a simple flight stabilization system, a sophisticated autopilot, a training system or a flight safety system depending on what flight mode and options you choose.

Flight modes are controlled through a radio transmitter switch, via mission commands, or using commands from a ground station (GCS) or companion computer.

Major Flight Modes

All of the flight modes below have optional additional controls that may be used to change the behaviour to suit particular flying needs. After you have read the introductory material below it is highly recommended that you look through the complete set of Plane parameters so you can explore the full range of functionality available.

ModeRollPitchThrottleGPSNeed TXSummary
MANUAL---YManual control surface movement, passthrough
FBWAss-YRoll and pitch follow stick input, up to set limits
FBWBsASPDYYlike FBWA, but with automatic height and speed control
CRUISEAASPDYYlike FBWB, but with ground course tracking
STABILIZE++-YWing-leveling on stick release
AUTOTUNEss-Ylike FBWA, but learns attitude tuning while flying
TRAINING++-YManual control up to roll and pitch limits
ACRO++-Yrate controlled mode with no attitude limits
Q(Copter Modes)ssAYYVaries depending on mode. See quadplane documentation
AUTOAAAYFollows Mission
LOITERAAAYCircles point where mode switched
CIRCLEAAAGently turns aircraft
GUIDEDAAAYCircles user defined point from GCS
Return To Launch (RTL)AAAYReturns to and circles home or rally point
TAKEOFFAAAYAutomatic takeoff to specific altitude, and loiter at distance from takeoff until mode is changed
THERMALAAAYMode entered to search for thermal lift by SOARING feature or manually if lift is encountered. See :ref:`THERMAL Mode `
-Full manual control of flight surfaces
+Manual control with stabilized limits or assistance
sStabilized control with limits
AAutomatic control
SPDControls speed


Automatic throttle controlled modes can optionally have pilot-based speed adjustments using the throttle stick via the THROTTLE_NUDGE parameter. Otherwise, the autopilot will attempt to maintain AIRSPEED_CRUISE airspeed if an airspeed sensor is being used, or TRIM_THROTTLE as a target throttle, as in FBWA and CRUISE modes.


Most altitude controlled modes can optionally maintain altitude with respect to Terrain instead of relative to HOME. See Terrain Following for more information.


Any stabilized control mode requires tuning for optimal performance. The default PID and TECS values are very conservative to avoid uncontrollable oscillations. Perform an AUTOTUNE before using stabilized or automatic roll and pitch modes extensively. Tune TECS before using automatic throttle modes extensively.


AUTO mode also provides for Automatic Takeoff and Automatic Landing.

Flight Mode List