BAE Systems recently completed the first test of an autonomous landing system intended for large mobility and transport aircraft.
According to BAE Systems, the test demonstrated the system’s ability to enhance pilot vision in a simulated zero-visibility landing scenario.
The December 6 demonstration of the Autonomous Approach and Landing Capability (AALC) system took place at the Air Force Flight Test Center at Edwards Air Force Base on board a C-130H aircraft.
AALC technology combines millimetre-wave radar and infrared (IR) imaging, enabling pilots to see the runway and detect obstacles in conditions that limit visibility.
Infrared sensors are used commonly on military aircraft, but IR technology, while useful in dark or hazy conditions, is not effective in heavy fog, smoke, dust, or snow.
Under these conditions, AALC generates an image from the millimetre-wave radar that is displayed to the aircrew through a digital light engine head-up display, with flight-guidance symbology overlaid digitally onto the image.
‘This technology essentially lets aircrews maintain their vision through all weather and obscurants,’ said Clark Freise, vice president of defence avionics for BAE Systems in Johnson City, New York. ‘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. BAE Systems was awarded the initial AALC contract in 2004.