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Modern aircraft are some of the most automated machines in the world. Pilots rarely hand-fly commercial aircraft and rely on the flight management system (FMS) to deal with things like navigation in conjunction with onboard Autopilot systems.
When it’s time to put the wheels back on the ground, other ground-based systems help pilots find the runway and put the plane down safely. Instrument Landing System, or ILS, is used to guide commercial aircraft to the start of the runway. While most pilots will use the ILS to verify their alignment and glide slope with the runway, only in rare situations will the landing itself be completely automated using the ILS.
However, a German team has developed a new system that doesn’t rely on any ground-based help in order to land the plane, according to TechCrunch. The new system uses a set of cameras mounted in the nose of the plane to identify the runway, mimicking what pilots do with their eyes — although the system has a bit of an upgrade over human eyes as its cameras have infrared capabilities allowing for use of the system even in poor visibility conditions.
The system, which is called C2Land, uses a combination of cameras and visual computer processors to locate the runway and then put the aircraft down on the centerline. The system was installed on a Diamond DA42 for testing. You can see in the video below the pilot on board is just along for the ride.
While the system is a very long way from being installed on your next commercial flight, it does give a glimpse at what we might see installed on commercial airliners in the future.
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