Garmin Autoland achieves FAA certification for general aviation aircraft

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The Federal Aviation Administration has certified Garmin’s G3000 Autoland system for the integrated flight deck in the Piper M600.

In the event of an emergency, the Autoland system will control and land the aircraft without human intervention. The  system is also featured on the Cirrus Vision Jet and Daher TBM 940 and will soon be available on these aircraft, with additional aircraft approvals to follow.

“What started as a vision to develop the world’s first Autoland system for general aviation, became a reality today as we deliver one of the industry’s most significant innovations,” said Phil Straub, Garmin executive vice president and managing director of aviation. “Congratulations to the entire Garmin team who contributed to the development and certification of Autoland – one of the industry’s most forward-thinking technologies that will forever enhance aviation safety and save lives.”

In the event of an emergency, the pilot or passengers on board the aircraft can activate Autoland to land the aircraft by pressing a dedicated button. Autoland can also activate automatically if the system determines it is necessary.

Once activated, the system calculates a flight plan to the most suitable airport, while avoiding terrain and adverse weather, initiates an approach to the runway and automatically lands the aircraft – without pilot or passenger intervention.

Autoland takes into account a range of information and criteria during an activation, including data about performance, operational and environmental factors. The availability of a GPS approach with lateral and vertical guidance to the runway is also required when the system is considering various airports and runways. Furthermore the system will automatically communicate with air traffic control (ATC), advising controllers and pilots operating near the aircraft of its location and its intentions.

Throughout an Autoland activation, the G3000 integrated flight deck provides passenger-centric visual and verbal communications. The flight displays show the aircraft’s location on a map alongside information such as the destination airport, estimated time of arrival, distance to the destination airport and fuel remaining.

Airspeed, altitude and aircraft heading are also labeled and passengers have the option to communicate with ATC by following simple instructions on the display using the touchscreen interface on the flight deck.

The Garmin Autothrottle system manages aircraft speed, engine performance and engine power so the aircraft can climb, descend or maintain altitude as needed during an Autoland activation. On approach to land, the system initiates a controlled descent  and if the aircraft needs additional time to descend or slow down during the approach, the Autoland system initiates a standard holding procedure.

When aligned with the runway the landing gear and flaps are automatically extended and the aircraft continues its descent. On the runway, automatic braking is applied while tracking the runway centerline to bring the aircraft to a full stop. Engine shutdown is also automated so occupants can safely exit the aircraft.

Pilots can deactivate an Autoland activation at any time by pressing a button.

Autoland is part of Garmin’s Autonomí range of autonomous safety solutions which also includes Emergency Descent Mode (EDM) and Electronic Stability and Protection (ESP). In the event an aircraft loses pressurization, EDM automatically descends the aircraft to a preset altitude without pilot intervention to help avert hypoxic situations.

ESP can assist the pilot in avoiding unintentional flight attitudes beyond that for normal flight. ESP works in the background while the pilot is hand flying the aircraft to help pilots avoid inadvertent flight attitudes or bank angles.

Should the pilot become inattentive while hand flying the aircraft and exceed pre-determined pitch, roll or airspeed limitations, Garmin ESP activates and the pilot will feel pressure on the flight controls that guide him/her back to a recommended flight limit.

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Ben has worked all of his career as a journalist and now editor, covering almost all aspects of technology, engineering and industry. In the last 20 years he has written on subjects from nuclear submarines and autonomous cars to future design and manufacturing technologies and commercial aviation. Latterly editor of a leading engineering magazine, he brings an eye for a great story and lots of experience to the team.

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