Piper's M600 and Cirrus Vision Jet add automated landing feature

Piper Aircraft’s M600 turboprop and Cirrus Aircraft’s Vision Jet are to feature a new Garmin automatic landing capability in a first for general aviation aircraft.

Garmin describes the technology – which is integrated into its G3000 flightdeck – as a “revolution in general aviation”, as it can "control and land the aircraft without human intervention" in the event of pilot incapacitation.

It is the first time any light aircraft have been available with an auto-land capability.

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.

The safety feature, branded Halo by Piper, is part of a series of improvements the Florida-based airframer is adding to a new version of its turboprop single. These include an autothrottle, emergency descent mode, and enhanced stability.

The M600 SLS also gains the formerly optional high-end EXP interior package.

“The M600 SLS and its Halo safety system is the result of an unwavering commitment to safety as well as the desire to evolve our products based on market input,” says Piper chief executive Simon Caldecott.

He adds: “Halo greatly enhances situational awareness and operational safety through the use of advanced technology and is one the most significant advancements in general aviation history.”

Cirrus says the feature on the Vision Jet – which it brands as Safe Return – complements an existing emergency parachute system that the Duluth, Minnesota-based manufacturer pioneered on its SR22 piston before adding it to the Vision Jet when that was launched in 2006.

The Safe Return function will be integrated into Vision Jets delivered from 2020 and available as a retrofit on 2019-built, “generation two”, Vision Jets.

“Safe Return delivers the next step towards autonomous flight, bringing a new level of confidence to the overall flying experience by providing the ultimate level of safety and control to passengers,” says Cirrus chief executive Zean Nielsen.

Cirrus has delivered a total of 150 Vision Jets. The Williams International FJ33-5A-powered type is the only certificated single-engined jet.

Piper says certification of the SLS is imminent, with deliveries beginning this quarter. List price for the Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-42A-powered aircraft is $2.99 million.