Garmin lines up new aircraft platforms for autoland system

Garmin plans to announce new aircraft platforms for its autoland safety system next year, and says that while the automatic landing capability is currently limited to models equipped with the G3000 flightdeck, “there is no reason” why the technology could not be adapted “at a later date” for other types featuring its integrated cockpits.

On 30 October, the Olathe, Kansas-based company announced the Cirrus Vision Jet and Piper M600 as the launch platforms for the autoland function, which it describes as a “revolution in general aviation” that can "control and land the aircraft without human intervention" in the event of pilot incapacitation.

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The system is triggered by a button in the cabin or on the flightdeck. It continually communicates with passengers and air traffic control while monitoring external parameters and identifying the nearest suitable airport, before bringing the aircraft in safely and stopping the engine, says Garmin.

Cirrus says autoland functionality – which it brands as Safe Return – will be integrated into Vision Jets delivered from the first quarter of 2020, and will be available as a retrofit on its second-generation G2 model.

The airframer has delivered 65 G2-standard examples of the six-seat personal jet since its introduction in January and says “the cost and downtime of the retrofit will be determined after certification”.

Autoland is part of package of improvements – known as Halo – that Piper has added to new iteration of the M600, dubbed the SLS. These include autothrottle, emergency descent mode, enhanced stability and a high-end interior.

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Piper Aircraft

Piper says the SLS replaces the current-generation M600, which was introduced in 2016. The Vero Beach, Florida-headquartered airframer says it has not delivered any M600s in 2019, as customers are awaiting the new version of the single-engined turboprop. “Certification of the M600 SLS is imminent, and we plan to ship 25 units in the fourth quarter, with serial number 100 being the first example, ” says Piper.

Garmin says other aircraft will be adopting the autoland system, and it will reveal the new platforms early next year.

Daher's TBM 940 also features the G3000 integrated flightdeck and Garmin autothrottle system, and the French airframer says it will adopt the emergency autoland system for the single-engined turboprop.

"We need to engineer the solution as we have always done in the past, and this takes a little more time," says senior vice-president for Daher's airplane business unit. "However, our plan will be to offer it for retrofit on earlier TBM 940 production aircraft, once the full functionality requested by Daher has been implemented".

The autoland capability could eventually be adapted for aircraft using other Garmin integrated flightdecks such as the G1000 series, which could open up a potentially huge market. “There is no reason we wouldn’t be able to integrate autoland into other Garmin integrated flightdeck-equipped aircraft, but at this time we are focusing on the G3000,” the company says.