BAE Systems Completes First Test of Autonomous Landing System

12/11/2007 - EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, California — BAE Systems completed the first test of an autonomous landing system intended for large mobility and transport aircraft. The test demonstrated the system’s ability to enhance pilot vision in a simulated zero-visibility landing scenario.

The demonstration of the Autonomous Approach and Landing Capability (AALC) system took place at the Air Force Flight Test Center at Edwards Air Force Base aboard a C-130H aircraft.

AALC technology fuses millimeter-wave radar and infrared imaging, enabling pilots to see the runway and detect obstacles in a variety of visibility-limiting conditions. BAE Systems is under an $11.4 million contract with the Air Force Research Laboratory for AALC development and flight demonstration.

“This technology essentially lets aircrews maintain their vision through all weather and obscurants,” said Clark Freise, vice president of defense 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.” The technology could be used on several types of aircraft, including military and civil transports, helicopters, and special-purpose civil aircraft.

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 millimeter-wave radar that is displayed to the aircrew via a digital light engine head-up display, with flight-guidance symbology overlaid digitally onto the image.

BAE Systems was awarded the initial AALC contract in 2004.

Source: BAE Systems Press Release

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