Aircraft

The business jet that can land itself in an emergency

The business jet that can land...
The Vision G2 business jet can now land itself in an emergency
The Vision G2 business jet can now land itself in an emergency
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The Vision G2 business jet can now land itself in an emergency
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The Vision G2 business jet can now land itself in an emergency
A ballistic parachute is the final safety measure if things go way out of whack
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A ballistic parachute is the final safety measure if things go way out of whack
The one-touch Safe Return button is accessible to passengers
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The one-touch Safe Return button is accessible to passengers

An important step towards autonomous aviation was taken today, as Cirrus Aviation announced "Safe Return" functionality for its G2 Vision jet, which will find the nearest airstrip, alert authorities and land itself in an emergency.

The Vision is a small private jet capable of seating seven people, cruising at over 300 knots at 31,000 feet. Small, quick and user-friendly, it's good for those that wish to fly themselves, as well as being flown. It's been a successful product for Cirrus, but its new functionality could represent something bigger. CEO Zean Nielsen calls it "a product that we believe is going to change personal aviation forever."

Safe Return Autonomous Autoland, developed in conjunction with Garmin, manifests as a button on the roof of the Vision jet that is accessible to passengers. If something happens to the pilot, a passenger can hit the button and request an autoland.

The one-touch Safe Return button is accessible to passengers
The one-touch Safe Return button is accessible to passengers

At this point, the pilots' displays in the Vision jet change to display information more relevant to passengers. The flight control system engages an autopilot, and scans surrounding terrain, weather and airstrips to find the closest safe place to put the plane down.

Inside the cabin, passengers get a readout and audio message telling them how soon the plane will be landing. Meanwhile, the system is automatically squawking on emergency channels to rally emergency services and alert control towers. It routes itself to the selected airport and runway, slows itself down, drops the landing gear, and monitors altitude precisely as it brings itself over the runway and flares for a soft landing.

The aircraft then taxis and brakes to a stop, at which point the passengers can jump out and the emergency services can get on board to deal with whatever's happened to the pilot.

In essence, the Safe Return system answers that one nagging question all air passengers who've seen the Airplane movie carry with them subconsciously: could you land an aircraft if you had to? Now, any passenger who survives whatever knocked the pilot out can bring the Vision jet down safely.

A ballistic parachute is the final safety measure if things go way out of whack
A ballistic parachute is the final safety measure if things go way out of whack

This new system comes in on top of a separate last-gasp ballistic parachute system the Vision already employed, which can deploy in the case of total catastrophic failure and bring the jet down gently and wheels-down.

Aircraft can already fly themselves very competently in the air. The ability to auto-route and land, maintaining contact with authorities on the ground, is an important step towards fully autonomous aviation, in which aircraft will queue and taxi around airports at the direction of air traffic control, then take off, navigate and land themselves, taxiing in to their arrival bays and requiring no input from a human pilot.

Check out a video detailing the technology below.

Vision Jet: Safe Return™ Emergency Autoland

Source: Cirrus Aviation

6 comments
Quercus
Clever. And all very reassuring......
guzmanchinky
That is spectacular! I wonder if you can just use the autoland system in a non emergency as well?
Nobody
How will it know which runway to land on? This could be affected by changing wind directions or even runway construction or repair. This could get very interesting at a very large and busy airport or a very small isolated airport with limited or no services.
Dick Mallon
An incident in the late 1970s brings back a frightening memory. One night at midnight flying out of the Beechcraft field in Wichita heading East for our home base, we finished a two-day business trip. Our Queenaire was on Auto-Pilot when about an hour into the flight, our pilot passed out. I and the other corporate exec
Tom Lee Mullins
I think that is really cool. I think that would make it way safer.
toni24
Sounds like a good idea and I like the ballistic chute back up. But the design looks a lot like the Nazi He162 of WWII, Eat your heart out Hirler LOL