# Garmin's Autoland System

Discussion in 'Aircraft Design / Aerodynamics / New Technology' started by Daleandee, Nov 1, 2019.

1. Nov 7, 2019

### Topaz

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And what is to prevent abuse of the system, such has already been demonstrated with Tesla's Autopilot? You can't just hand-wave away that "they should..." read the manual, obey the rules, 'not do that.' Fact is, people are doing 'that' and endangering other people in an explicit way due solely to the automation being on-board. Yes, people do stupid things with non-automated cars, but that's not an excuse to hand-wave away a genuine demonstrated safety issue that's occurring because of the automation.

If this auto-land system is an "emergency-use-only" system, does it declare an emergency to ATC when activated and squawk an emergency code on the transponder? Does it respond to ATC instruction to change transponder code for special sequencing? Does it respond to ATC instruction to use a particular runway? I don't mean ten or twenty years from now when every manned aircraft has a data-link to ATC mandated. I mean today. Or does ATC just unexpectedly have an aircraft entering the pattern that's totally unresponsive to control direction on their hands? Or are we hand-waving that away with an owner's-manual reference?

It's all well and good to do the engineering that can steer a car or land an airplane. Unfortunately, the real world is far more complex than just that engineering task. There are still people out there, both using (and deliberately abusing) the systems and around the systems in-use, vulnerable to its shortcomings and that deliberate abuse. You can't ignore the "human factor" with just a blythe "read the manual" legal warning. That's already been demonstrated to be glaringly insufficient.

Last edited: Nov 7, 2019
2. Nov 7, 2019

### Marc Zeitlin

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Yes to both. It announces on tower or CTAF, also on 121.50, and sets transponder code to 7700 (emergency).

No. One way coms only.

No - see above.

Yes. In exactly the same way that they would with any lost coms aircraft. Since they see 7700, they know there's a declared emergency and clear their plate. At non-towered fields, they'd be relying on the transmissions on CTAF and on other planes to get out of the way due to the announced emergency.

I don't disagree with this at all, but the question isn't "will some idiots abuse the system", but "will this system make flying safer with it than without it". If it saves 10 lives, but some idiot kills 2 people with it, well, then we're ahead of the game. If it's the other way around, then that's obviously bad.

People had very similar complaints about CAP's. The statistics seem clear that they've saved far more lives than they've cost (if any), and spurious pulls are very few and far between. Will a system like Garmin's be similar? We don't know. We need to be cognizant of the potential for abuse, but there's no reason to believe that it will be the overarching issue.

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3. Nov 7, 2019

### Himat

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If the airplane is under control by the autopilot capable of landing the airplane, with sufficient fuel reserves and no technical problems, is there an emergency then?

4. Nov 7, 2019

### Derswede

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Himat, don't confuse everyone with logic!!

Grins!

Derswede

5. Nov 7, 2019

### Topaz

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There is quite a lot of abuse of similar systems in the "self-driving" car world. I'm very glad to hear that this system is declaring an emergency if it's turned on. That should minimize similar abuse by pilots.

We can be pedantic about language, but you have an aircraft entering the pattern that will not respond to ATC direction. Indeed, it's incapable of responding to ATC direction. A piloted airplane with a inop radio can still use the light beacon system. You guys remember that, right?

If an emergency is not declared, then an emergency is being created by the mere fact that you have a totally non-responsive aircraft in the pattern, mixing with other traffic. It won't "see and avoid", it won't divert to an alternate runway if the primary is obstructed, and it won't avoid a runway that's been temporarily closed. And, if an emergency is not declared, nobody will know it until it's too late. Just because it's "on autopilot" doesn't mean it's fully capable of safely operating the aircraft in general, arbitrary conditions. That's the same mistake people are making about Tesla's "Autopilot" and people are dying as a result. This Garmin system is, at best, capable of steering and landing the airplane in a very artificially limited situation where other traffic has been removed from the picture by ATC under the declaration of emergency. It is not capable of operating as a fully-competent "pilot." Let's not confuse the two.

6. Nov 7, 2019

### Daleandee

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The price I gave was mentioned in the video and I'm certain that a similar system could be had for much less. But to say it doesn't cost anything is nowhere near the truth! The folks here are building "homebuilt airplanes" and most find that there is some substantial cost to the parts that make up the system that Garmin uses that are not included as part the planes we have built. So while we certainly won't spend 300K we will spend a good bit if we want the not included Garmin Cockpit System (or a similar clone) in our little homebuilt planes.

However ... it would be wonderful if I could afford an airplane that cost so much that they would toss in the autoland system for free ...

Dale
N319WF

7. Nov 8, 2019

### Dana

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I agree that quite a few lives have been saved by CAP systems, but I've seen a distressing number of incidents where it was pulled after a simple engine failure over landable terrain, and of pilots pushing it farther than they might have if they didn't have the big red handle as a last chance "out".

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8. Nov 8, 2019

### Doggzilla

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As someone who has actually met some of the Garmin engineers...

I don’t have much faith in them. One of them not only did not care, he seemed as if he outright had disdain for learning how aircraft actually operate.

I’m not trusting something built by someone who hates flying enough that they literally refuse to learn about it.

Willing ignorance is not a good personal trait for people involved in safety critical tasks.

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9. Nov 8, 2019

### Marc Zeitlin

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It is my understanding that insurance companies WANT folks to pull the handle rather than land off airport. The data supports this as being safer, both for the people and the airplane, than an off airport landing. So I'd argue that this is a GOOD thing - if you can't make an airport, the safest thing (statistically) is to use the parachute.

This, of course, is a bad thing. It's hard to know exactly how much this happens, or if one or two anecdotal stories end up becoming ubiquitous.

I will say that the resistance to new safety features is strange to me. No one here bemoans the fact that they don't ride their horse to work, or that the fatality rate in cars is 1/10 of what it was in 1935, mostly due to better design, seat belts, air bags, anti-lock brakes, etc. Are some new features useless? Sure. Every once in a while something will get introduced that doesn't have the intended effect, and it'll generally go away after a while. This MIGHT be in that category. And ANYTHING can be abused. Some idiots are out there sleeping while driving their Tesla. Is that a majority, or even a small minority of Tesla drivers, most of whom will probably be helped by the "autopilot" (and yes, that's a very poor name for what the thing is/does).

If this thing cost $5K, rather then$300K, and could be put in my COZY MKIV (just need an autothrottle, which actually wouldn't be ALL that difficult) so that when I have a heart attack my wife can punch the button so SHE doesn't have to die as well (I've tried to get her to take a "pinch hitter" course, but I might as well be unicorn hunting, and even if she did, she's not going to practice landing [particularly with a dead husband next to her, at least marginally raising her stress level] enough to get good at it) I'd install it in a second.

But that's just me, I guess.

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10. Nov 8, 2019

### gtae07

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I hate to burst people's bubble... but if you're under the impression that the engineering staffs at Boeing, Garmin, or just about any other aviation company are airplane nuts with pilot's licenses and a broad, comprehensive understanding of How Airplanes Work... well, you're sadly mistaken.

To the vast majority of them, it's simply a job. They know what they need to know to do their jobs, but outside that they don't really know or care. They're in the aerospace field because that's where the job was available, and it pays well. One of the guys I interned with was an aerospace major simply because it was the first thing on the (alphabetical) list. I get peppered all the time with questions from other engineers (and my dad and all his airline pilot buddies, too) about "how does this work" or "why is that".

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11. Nov 8, 2019

### Dana

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That makes sense. There are a lot of wisecracks about "Cirrus drivers and the big red handle," some of them justified and some not, but in a lot of cases, yes, statistically (for the average Cirrus pilot who spends 90% of his time on autopilot and the rest trying to fly like one) it probably is the safest thing to do. OTOH, a sport pilot (I mean the kind of pilot, not the certificate type) who routinely spends an hour just shooting landings for fun, flying it down under control would usually be best.

It is hard to say. I remember looking over a list of "saves" some years ago on the BRS website. While some of them were absolutely legitimate uses, my off the cuff impression was that about half were either situations that could (should) have been could have been avoided entirely, or could have been a reusable airplane if flown to a landing.

And that's a big part of it, the cost/benefit ratio, which is a fuzzy line in a different place for everybody, and which moves as the technology advances. It's hard to put a dollar value on something that might save your life but probably never will be used. Kind of like life insurance, which is simply legalized gambling... you're betting you're going to die during the policy period, the insurance company is betting you'll live, and as always the odds favor the house.

12. Nov 8, 2019

### Pops

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When you don't know how to take care of yourself in a material world, you tend to want someone to take care of you. Sort of like a very young child isn't it ?

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13. Nov 14, 2019

### Himat

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There is a question about pedantic language and capability of the system. Garmin is maybe the first commercially available system. The Garmin system have limited capability, I do expect that capability to improve with each software upgrade.

Pilot capability, I could counter with questioning if all pilots are capable of safely operating an aircraft in all arbitrary situations. Same for car self-drive and drivers. The self-drive car does have flaws, but a few years from now we may see the numbers of how many accidents because of autonomous systems and how many near misses saved by autonomous systems overriding the driver. (Lane keepers, auto brakes and others.)

14. Nov 14, 2019

### Topaz

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Have fun. Such systems are not for me.

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15. Nov 15, 2019

### Himat

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I will.
It is probably part down to experience, I worked on the team delivering the first AUV, autonomous underwater vehicle, for commercial seabed mapping. Depth rated to 3000m and I think we had it deeper than 2000m when I worked with it. Less traffic down there, but if something happens it may not return to the surface. Today I have workmates developing and producing AUV’s, USV (unmanned surface vehicles) and an autonomous container feeder ship.

On the other side I do understand your perspective too. There is fun in hand flying an airplane. It’s just a very different mission. Same for cars, driving an open scenery road or on the track is fun. Commuting eight hours in dense traffic is not. I would not like to lose the first because the latter was automated.

16. Nov 15, 2019

### PMD

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I am on the fence on this one. Not likely I will buy an airplane with THAT much automation/avionics, but if I were to do so, it WOULD make me feel better to know my long-suffering wife would have an out if I crashed before the airplane did.

17. Nov 15, 2019

### Toobuilder

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I used to look down on autopilots in little airplanes until I had a chance to fly one of the "modern" experimental units that include vertical guidance and turn anticipation. I now consider it a near must have for any serious cross country airplane. Like a good set of ANR headsets, letting "George" handle the mundane, yet mentally tiring task of obsessing over course and altitude is a MAJOR workload reliever and allows more attention to traffic, weather and powerplant management. Not to mention that I'm much sharper for the terminal environment and approach segment at my destination. When used properly, automation is a plus - when used as a crutch, not so much.

An autoland system is almost certainly going to be abused by some - but that's not justification to impede it's development IMHO.

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18. Nov 16, 2019

### jedi

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As soon as the red handle is pulled the airframe manufacturer is off the hook for most any subsequent damage to persons or property on the surface. Liability transfers to the BRS company.

Agree or disagree?

19. Nov 16, 2019

### BJC

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Disagree.

BJC

20. Nov 16, 2019

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