1. The WordReference Forums have moved to new forum software. (Details)

to fly by the autopilot

Discussion in 'English Only' started by Xander2024, Jan 8, 2013.

  1. Xander2024 Senior Member

    Southern Russia
    Russian
    Hello everyone,

    could a native speaker please tell me if the construction "to fly by the autopilot" is correct? I've come across it in a dictionary but for some reason I have a deep doubt that it's correct English.


    Thanks in advance.
     
  2. Tazzler Senior Member

    Maryland
    American English
    Hello. I would say the correct construction is "on autopilot".
     
  3. Xander2024 Senior Member

    Southern Russia
    Russian
    Thanks, Tazzler. I have seen the phrase "to work on automatic pilot", that's why the "by the" sounds kind of strange to me.
     
  4. Hau Ruck

    Hau Ruck Senior Member

    United States - Midwest
    English - U.S.
    I'd most likely say, "fly with the autopilot", "use the autopilot" (the one I use the most), or "enable the autopilot" ("dis-engage the autopilot" / "kill the autopilot").
    I can't recall ever saying "by the autopilot" (nor have I heard any of my co-workers say it).

    *I'm a pilot as are 65% of my co-workers*
     
  5. Xander2024 Senior Member

    Southern Russia
    Russian
    Thanks a lot, Filsmith. :)

    So, would it be correct to say

    The plane was flying with the autpilot / with the autopilot enabled /with the autopilot on ?
     
  6. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    I'm with Tazzler: I'd say The plane was flying on autopilot (or just The plane was on autopilot).
     
  7. Xander2024 Senior Member

    Southern Russia
    Russian
    Thank you, Loob.
     
  8. Cagey post mod

    California
    English - US
    Lay people use the expression 'on autopilot' metaphorically to mean that something is being done without thought, but simply by habit or rote. (See the definition under on automatic pilot.) Here is an example:
    When you have more demands on your time than you can accommodate, eliminate as many of these choices as possible by putting them on autopilot. Eat the same thing for breakfast everyday (hint: yogurt and fruit are better than doughnuts and coffee).
    Put Mundane Decisions on Autopilot
    (TIME magazine on Jan 3, 2013)

    This use isn't based on a understanding of how an automatic pilot really works.
     
  9. Hau Ruck

    Hau Ruck Senior Member

    United States - Midwest
    English - U.S.
    Correct. Any of those would be acceptable.

    "Flying on autopilot/on autopilot" would also be acceptable. I don't use it myself, but I have friends/co-workers that say it.
     
  10. Xander2024 Senior Member

    Southern Russia
    Russian
    Thanks again, Filsmith and Cagey.
     
  11. Hau Ruck

    Hau Ruck Senior Member

    United States - Midwest
    English - U.S.
    You are welcome. :)
     
  12. Tazzler Senior Member

    Maryland
    American English
    Oh, well, the expert has spoken :).
     

Share This Page