Airbus SE is exploring the next level of cockpit automation, testing a system that would provide advanced assistance from alerts on the ground to emergency diversions at cruising altitude should the crew be incapacitated.
The technology, called DragonFly, is designed to let planes perform an automated landing even in difficult weather conditions or low visibility while communicating with air traffic control as well as the airline’s operations team.
Airbus is currently testing the system, which also provides taxi assistance, both on the ground and in the air on an A350. Its most advanced model has been equipped with cameras, sensors, and computer vision algorithms, the company said in a statement.
Airbus says the goal is to eventually let the technology land an aircraft at any airport in the world, regardless of whether the facility has the equipment currently needed for automatic landing.
Automation has become a common feature in modern commercial aircraft, allowing the pilots to hand off many tasks to the computer system, particularly at cruising altitude. Given the degree of computing power already in place today, some airlines and regulators are pushing to have just one pilot in the cockpit of passenger jets to cut costs and ease pressure from crew shortages.
Critics of the proposal say it puts too much responsibility on one individual, an objection the DragonFly system might help address.
Airbus said a trial will enter testing phase for three months, with flights allowing the manufacturer to validate or upgrade the technology with the goal of integrating it into future generations of aircraft.
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