'Autoland' System Lands Planes at the Push of a Button

In 2013, the National Transportation Safety Board told ABC News that 97 percent of the airplane fatalities that occurred didn’t happen on commercial flights, and that small planes were involved in an average of five accidents per day.

Much of this goes back to a lack of pilot training, the NTSB said at the time.

And it appears to be still true today, which is one of the reasons avionics and navigation company Garmin has been developing a product that can take over in the event of an emergency, and actually land an airplane with just the press of a button.

It’s called Autoland, and it’s currently being demoed by the private plane company Cirrus to be used by anyone – even someone who’s never been on an airplane before – to land a plane if the pilot becomes incapacitated. And you’re going to love this next part – it’s actually exactly what you’re picturing: a big red button.

Once the button, which resides in the airplane’s ceiling, is pressed, it activates warnings that tell those nearby to keep their hands off the controllers. The system then tracks down the nearest appropriate airport and contacts the control tower, to whom it issues a message that’s basically: we’re coming in for a landing; clear the runway.

Since Garmin is already in the map game, the system has cutting-edge GPS that IDs everything from unusual terrain to a cell phone tower, and safety navigates around it. The system, reportedly, can even navigate around storms.

Cirrus – which is calling this technology in its planes “Safe Return” – plans to integrate it as standard equipment in its single engine private jet Vision. A Florida-based plane company, Piper, will also use it, according to CNN Business, and Garmin hopes the technology will make its way to other airplane companies.

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