BAE clears the way

BAE Systems has completed the first test of an autonomous landing system for large aircraft in zero-visibility conditions.

The Autonomous Approach and Landing Capability (AALC) system, which was demonstrated aboard a C-130 Hercules aircraft, uses a millimeter-wave radar and infra-red imaging to enable pilots to see the runway and detect obstacles.

When infra-red imaging cannot be used, such as in heavy fog, smoke, dust or snow, AALC uses the radar to generate an image which is displayed to the aircrew via a digital light engine heads-up display. Flight symbology can then be overlaid on this image.

‘This technology essentially lets aircrews maintain their vision through all weather and obscurants,’ said Clark Freise, vice president of defense avionics for BAE Systems. ‘It promises to save lives by making it much safer for pilots to confidently land, taxi and take off.’

BAE Systems is under an $11.4m contract with the US Air Force Research Laboratory for AALC development and flight demonstration.

According to BAE the technology could be used on several types of aircraft including military and civil transports, helicopters and special-purpose civil aircraft.