BAE Systems tests autonomous aircraft landing system

EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif., 12 Dec. 2007. BAE Systems has 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 Dec. 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 aboard a C-130H aircraft.

EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif., 12 Dec. 2007.BAE Systems has 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 Dec. 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 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," says Clark Freise, vice president of defense avionics for BAE Systems in Johnson City, N.Y. "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 -- 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.

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