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automatic pilot.
Contemporary Examples

The autopilot would be used throughout a normal flight because the 777, like all large airliners, is difficult to fly manually.
MH370 Debris Is Lost Forever, Can the Plane Be Found Without It? Clive Irving September 6, 2014

The second, which takes only slightly less time, is to disconnect the autopilot and hand-fly the airplane to its new course.
How Flight 370 Could Have Become a Zombie Clive Irving March 18, 2014

After all, “drone” refers to any unmanned aircraft with an autopilot, not just Predators and Reapers.
Why Drones Make Us Nervous Josh Dzieza May 16, 2013

Frequent attempts to contact the Boeing 737 failed as it flew on under the control of the autopilot.
The Flight 370 Zombie Theory Rises From the Dead Clive Irving June 25, 2014

A transfer of control is essential after a disconnection from the autopilot.
Who’s to Blame for Flight 447? Clive Irving July 28, 2011

Historical Examples

Now he inserted it into the receiving tray of the autopilot and tripped a lever.
Starman’s Quest Robert Silverberg

Finally, satisfied with the ship’s orientation, the autopilot rested.
Pushbutton War Joseph P. Martino

What is aboard each one, though, is an autopilot taken from a scooter, hooked into the drive controls.
Industrial Revolution Poul William Anderson

The autopilot of RI 276 had no intention of letting this happen, of course.
Pushbutton War Joseph P. Martino

The autopilot requested, and received, clearance to land at its preassigned base.
Pushbutton War Joseph P. Martino

short for automatic pilot

1935, from auto- + pilot (n.).


Something done automatically, without much self-awareness: She is on autopilot when driving them to school


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