Avionics News February 2012 - 58

Continued from page 57

LOOK MOM, NO HANDS!

including the engine, propeller, landing gear and flaps to be commanded by the Athena 411. “This is applicable to any type of aircraft,” he said. “It can be an ‘analog’ or ‘digital’ airplane. I think there are always ways to find that boundary between newgeneration electronics and software and the existing, prior-generation mechanicals – we can always find that interface and make it work.”

ous customers where we have retrofitted those aircraft with these capabilities in a single and triplex string. We are delivering those solutions for autonomous and pilot-optional vehicles right now.”

‘I have a dream…’
According to Voss, as impressive and exciting as the autolanding in the Bonanza was, it’s business as usual for the technology. “From a UAS perspective, we literally launch thousands and thousands of these aircraft around the world,” he said. “We have more than a million hours of autonomous flight operations now. “We have a proven track record that shows, first of all, it is very feasible to have these capabilities on an airplane, and second, it’s very interesting to contemplate how to bring that to traditional markets – manned aviation markets where that kind of capability would be extremely valuable. Initially, it may only be used in an emergency autoland way – like our demonstration. “Ultimately, long term, why not think of it as a feasible solution to offer high degrees of automation and autonomy on any airplane? My own personal dream is to have a private jet at the local airport, but I didn’t feel like flying today. I would really like to be able to get on board and load my flight plan into the computer; push a button and let the airplane take me where I want to go and land there. It’s not rocket science – we do this same thing every day with UAS. “Push a button, the airplane takes off and flies its mission, and the ‘crew’ literally does other things. I think it’s super exciting.”

Touchdown! Score One for Technology
As everyone had planned and hoped, the actual series demonstration landings completed at Hawker Beechcraft’s home field were routine. “The demo work we did on the Bonanza was a subset of the system’s total capabilities,” Voss explained. “The pilots actually flew the airplane for the takeoff and the beginning of the flights. They had a simulated pilot emergency, so they hit the button on the panel and enabled the autoland function. “We had preloaded the 411 with the intercept point and glideslope for base and final to the runway. Using baro input, GPS, onboard inertial sensors and other inputs, it knew how to calculate the full state factors, including down velocities, body velocities, attitudes, position and altitudes all the way to touchdown.” While the decision to announce the success of the demonstration landings during the 2009 EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wis., was spot on, the timing for the further testing and development of a marketable system wasn’t so good. “It happened at the beginning of the GA market downturn, so the program hasn’t progressed past that landing,” Voss said. “We have continued fielding these same solutions in our optionally piloted vehicles and our UAS business. “We have Part 23 airframes with vari58
• 2012

The pull of the ‘digital parachute’
Even with “millions of hours” of successful autonomous flights in their logbooks, Voss knows it’s going to be a long and arduous climb to get approvals for those flights on private and commer-

cial aircraft. But, they continue to work toward it. One of those steps is the development of what Rockwell Collins calls the “digital parachute.” “The point is to be very respectful of the marketplace and the certification needs of the FAA,” Voss said. “Bring it along incrementally as a capability as opposed to what we can do in our unmanned systems market, which is typically to launch the entire capability right away. “The initial launch is part of our Fusion avionics suite. The early version is much simpler. In the event the aircraft gets flipped upside down by a storm or the pilot loses situational awareness, they can just push a button and the aircraft will automatically recover itself, fly to a location and hold there until the pilot gets his situational awareness back.” As the technologies mature and the FAA and industry get more attune with the autonomous flight concept, Voss envisions the continual acceptance of the technology until his fully autonomous business jet is a reality. But, it’s a ways off. Another very exciting piece of the puzzle is something Rockwell Collins calls “damage tolerance.” Simply, this is the ability for the aircraft to continue to fly and land safely even after a catastrophic structural event, such as a midair where you lose part of a wing or tail surface. A dramatic demonstration video is available online at www.rockwellcollins.com/ sitecore/content/Data/Success_Stories/ DARPA_Damage_Tolerance.aspx. “We look at the future where we want to get full automation and autonomy integrated into the airspace,” Voss said. “In order to do that, we need to be able to handle all of these eventualities automatically. Some of these unfortunate events may be midairs, stuck ailerons or stuck flaps. We have demonstrated that we have the control laws to handle those types of failures.” q

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http://www.rockwellcollins.com/sitecore/content/Data/Success_Stories/DARPA_Damage_Tolerance.aspx http://www.rockwellcollins.com/sitecore/content/Data/Success_Stories/DARPA_Damage_Tolerance.aspx http://www.rockwellcollins.com/sitecore/content/Data/Success_Stories/DARPA_Damage_Tolerance.aspx

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Avionics News February 2012

Point of Communication
AEA Now
The View From Washington
International News and Regulatory Updates
Help for See-and-Avoid Aviating
Member Profile
Demonstrated Ability
Before & After
Retrofitting for RNP
A Conversation With...
What Will Economic Recovery Look Like?
Meet the AEA Staff
Member Profile
Look Mom, No Hands!
Business Basics
Pro-to-col
Theory & Practice
Special Report
What's New
Marketplace Classifies
Avionics News February 2012 - Cover1
Avionics News February 2012 - Cover2
Avionics News February 2012 - 1
Avionics News February 2012 - 2
Avionics News February 2012 - 3
Avionics News February 2012 - Point of Communication
Avionics News February 2012 - 5
Avionics News February 2012 - AEA Now
Avionics News February 2012 - 7
Avionics News February 2012 - 8
Avionics News February 2012 - 9
Avionics News February 2012 - 10
Avionics News February 2012 - 11
Avionics News February 2012 - 12
Avionics News February 2012 - 13
Avionics News February 2012 - 14
Avionics News February 2012 - 15
Avionics News February 2012 - The View From Washington
Avionics News February 2012 - 17
Avionics News February 2012 - International News and Regulatory Updates
Avionics News February 2012 - 19
Avionics News February 2012 - Help for See-and-Avoid Aviating
Avionics News February 2012 - 21
Avionics News February 2012 - 22
Avionics News February 2012 - 23
Avionics News February 2012 - 24
Avionics News February 2012 - 25
Avionics News February 2012 - Member Profile
Avionics News February 2012 - 27
Avionics News February 2012 - 28
Avionics News February 2012 - 29
Avionics News February 2012 - Demonstrated Ability
Avionics News February 2012 - 31
Avionics News February 2012 - 32
Avionics News February 2012 - 33
Avionics News February 2012 - Before & After
Avionics News February 2012 - 35
Avionics News February 2012 - Retrofitting for RNP
Avionics News February 2012 - 37
Avionics News February 2012 - 38
Avionics News February 2012 - 39
Avionics News February 2012 - A Conversation With...
Avionics News February 2012 - 41
Avionics News February 2012 - What Will Economic Recovery Look Like?
Avionics News February 2012 - 43
Avionics News February 2012 - 44
Avionics News February 2012 - 45
Avionics News February 2012 - 46
Avionics News February 2012 - 47
Avionics News February 2012 - Meet the AEA Staff
Avionics News February 2012 - 49
Avionics News February 2012 - 50
Avionics News February 2012 - 51
Avionics News February 2012 - Member Profile
Avionics News February 2012 - 53
Avionics News February 2012 - 54
Avionics News February 2012 - 55
Avionics News February 2012 - Look Mom, No Hands!
Avionics News February 2012 - 57
Avionics News February 2012 - 58
Avionics News February 2012 - 59
Avionics News February 2012 - Business Basics
Avionics News February 2012 - 61
Avionics News February 2012 - 62
Avionics News February 2012 - 63
Avionics News February 2012 - Pro-to-col
Avionics News February 2012 - 65
Avionics News February 2012 - 66
Avionics News February 2012 - 67
Avionics News February 2012 - Theory & Practice
Avionics News February 2012 - 69
Avionics News February 2012 - Special Report
Avionics News February 2012 - 71
Avionics News February 2012 - 72
Avionics News February 2012 - 73
Avionics News February 2012 - What's New
Avionics News February 2012 - 75
Avionics News February 2012 - 76
Avionics News February 2012 - 77
Avionics News February 2012 - Marketplace Classifies
Avionics News February 2012 - 79
Avionics News February 2012 - 80
Avionics News February 2012 - Cover3
Avionics News February 2012 - Cover4
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