Cirrus introduces a big red button

Alud Davies
By Alud Davies November 6, 2019 15:18

Cirrus introduces a big red button

Cirrus has introduced a big red button recessed into the roof of the cabin on its VisionJet personal jet that, once pressed, turns the airplane into a fully autonomous aircraft that can land itself.

Cirrus is calling the system ‘Safe Return, Emergency Autoland System’. It is based on a new Autoland feature as part of the Garmin G3000 avionics suite.

“Cirrus has become synonymous with safety, and our engineers, our world-class engineers, have really outdone themselves this time.” says Zean Nielsen, CEO, Cirrus Aircraft. “They have a product that we believe is going to change personal aviation, forever.”

As soon as the big red button has been pushed, the VisionJet turns into a fully autonomous aircraft, with the primary flight displays switching from information for the pilots, to information that will help a passenger with no flying experience.

The next stage of Safe Return is to select the nearest available place to land the airplane. As a GPS approach is needed, the system selects not only the nearest airport, but also the best runway to use. Autoland makes its decision on what airport to use based on calculating the distance away from airports against the amount of fuel remaining, considering terrain and weather.

Once that’s happened, the aircraft squawks the emergency code 7700, alerting the intended airport of the emergency landing, giving it the time to begin coordinating its own emergency services response.

Back in the airplane, the VisionJet then uses its global terrain database to plot a course to its selected airport, avoiding dangerous terrain. The aircraft also uses a satellite data link to avoid potentially hazardous weather systems.

During the whole Safe Return process, the system also lets passengers know what is happening.

“Not only is safe return taking care of the aircraft, but it is also taking care of the passengers,” says Ben Kowalski, SVP, sales & marketing. “It is announcing over the audio system how much time is available, how many minutes are left until the aircraft touches down.”

As the aircraft gets closer to the runway that it has selected to land on, the VisionJet compares its radar altimeter readings with its GPS position above the ground, which allows it to reduce its speed and flare the aircraft for landing just at the right time.

“It’s just incredible to watch the VisionJet roll itself out onto final approach, at the right speed, on the right course, the gear and flaps down, with the stabilisers all set up,” says Kowalski. “And of course, none of this would be possible without the VisionJet’s autothrottle system. It’s been using autothrottle throughout the entire Safe Return process, and it uses it as it slows down and prepares for landing.”

Once the aircraft has safely landed, the Safe Return system applies the brakes and, once the aircraft has stopped, kills the engines so that the passengers can exit the aircraft safely.

Although the system is automatically activated once the big red button is pushed, the system can be deactivated by a pilot. If the deactivation was itself accidental, information displayed on the primary flight display explains how to activate Autoland again.

Autoland is part of the Garmin Autonomi suite of flight technologies.

“From now on, if they need to, with just the touch of a button, passengers can land a VisionJet,” says Kowalski.

Alud Davies
By Alud Davies November 6, 2019 15:18

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