Researchers unveil flight-assistance system that lets planes land themselves on any runway


TS Evangelist
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We all know self-driving cars are becoming more and more advanced, but what about self-flying planes? Sure, limited autopilot features have existed for years now, but where is the industry at in its pursuit of full flight automation?

According to a report from ExtremeTech, things are moving forward much more quickly than you might think. A team of researchers based out of the Technical University of Munich have just finished the early development of "C2Land," a system that allows planes to land themselves without any input from a pilot (barring emergencies).

The team says C2Land was developed to improve upon existing automatic landing systems, which only let planes self-land at select airports that use the Instrument Landing System (ILS). The ILS requires an array of antennas to help planes land safely, and though satellite-based alternatives are also in the works, they too will require some form of "ground-based augmentation system" to function.

Because many smaller airports apparently do not have access to this tech, pilots are still required to land manually. Given that many airplane accidents occur during touchdown or take-off, it's easy to see why this wouldn't be ideal in the long run.

By contrast, C2Land lets planes land virtually anywhere using the power of GPS signals and an "optical reference system"; neither of which require any ground-based hardware to work properly.

The optical reference system is there to pick up on any "atmospheric disturbances" that C2Land's other tech can't detect, whereas the GPS system is used mostly for safe and precise navigation while landing.

It remains to be seen whether or not the C2Land team will be able to bring their tech to the aircraft industry at large anytime soon, but we look forward to seeing how things progress in the coming years.

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Uncle Al

TS Evangelist
As long as it doesn't try to do a 737 Max maneuver I'd be willing to give it a try ..... standing in the control tower away from the actual aircraft ...... perhaps in another country just to be on the safe side ......


TS Maniac
Hope the software wasn't developed by a $9/hr recent graduate because "land anywhere" will translate to "crash anyware"....I mean "crash anywhere."
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TS Guru
When ever I read a story about flight automation, commercial or otherwise, I immediately thinks of a Cylon raider. Now I'm thinking of commercial Cylons. :D


TS Evangelist
Well... "limited autopilot" is a stretch, they can climb, navigate, and approach with the pilots just moving some knobs, without touching anything else. Take off and landing are the only procedures with 100% human input in commercial flying under normal conditions.
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TS Booster
As a Boeing 787 pilot I prefer managing the descent, approach and landing by myself rather than let the computer do everything, this is more beneficial for fuel saving and passenger comforts. The Flight Management Computers on the 787 are still buggy AF because they Boeing tried to copy Airbus and they did it half-assesly.


TS Evangelist
Landing an aircraft is an art form, and computer's aren't good at art. Leave it to the well practiced pilots I say.


TS Evangelist
After the 737 MAX, anyone looking at full automation as happening in the near future is a complete fool.

We will need humans for a LONG time. AI cant learn on the fly, even "learning" AI only works in certain conditions and is only optimizing within a set of parameters it is expecting. AI cant be proactive, only humans can do that.


TS Booster
Jup, Airbus has always been under criticism for overriding pilots input in case of system malfunction, A320 + A321 behave exactly like the 737 Max but not as extreme, you can read about this incident here
And yes the checklist for this malfunction was only added after the incident
Now Boeing has done the same thing with 737 Max but with extreme lethality. However you all can feel safe flying any other Boeing plane though because the system will detect any opposite pilot input and turn off the automation.


TS Enthusiast
Good luck with the low-level wind-shear landing attempt where it requires the pilot to shift over 45 degree alignment to the runway center line and smoke the hell out of the tires. Good luck ducking the birdies, lol.