Diamond Aircraft’s chief executive has joined his counterpart at Eclipse Aviation in predicting the emergence of “get me home” technology to cope with pilot incapacitation in very light jets and other personal aircraft.

Christian Dries expects Diamond aircraft, including the DA42 piston twin and possibly the D-Jet microjet, to be offered with an auto-re­covery/landing option by 2008. The equipment is not yet available, but it would only require an autopilot to be coupled with the GPS/wide area augmentation system-based flight management systems on flightdecks such as Garmin’s G1000.

“We will be able to do this in the future,” says Dries. “It may take two and a half years, but if we can land a DA42 with it, we could land a D-Jet.”

At this month’s EBACE business aviation convention in Geneva, Eclipse’s Vern Raburn said such technology existed and it was only a question of getting it installed, tested and certificated (Flight International, 9-15 May).

Diamond’s venture with German defence electronics company Rheinmetall to develop an unmanned aircraft, the DA42-based OPALE (optionally piloted surveillance and reconnaissance system), will allow it to experiments with auto-recovery systems, says Dries.

Dries – who is sceptical about the use of parachutes as a recovery system, but plans to offer them on the DA42 when it goes on sale in North America – believes auto-land technology would make buyers feel safer.

“If a guy is flying with his family, they know that if he has a heart attack, all the passenger has to do is press a button and the aircraft will land itself at the nearest available airport,” he says.

Diamond’s first jet aircraft – which Dries calls a “personal light jet” – has notched up 11h since its first flight from Diamond’s Canadian subsidiary in London, Ontario on 18 April.

The single-engined, Williams FJ33-powered aircraft has “more than 200 orders”, but Dries expects this to have topped 500 by the time the aircraft is officially launched on 15 July. The aircraft will be assembled in London, Canada, from 2008.

Source: Flight International