By: AirTravellerPH Staff
Airbus has successfully performed a fully-automated take-off using a special A350 test aircraft at the Toulouse-Blagnac Airport last December 18, 2019. The test team consisted of 2 pilots, 2 flight engineers, and a test engineer. The aircraft took-off at about 10:15am and a total of 8 take-offs were conducted over a period of four and a half hours. This new technology is aimed to provide more support for pilots.
According to Airbus Test Pilot Captain Yann Beaufils, "The aircraft performed as expected during these milestone tests. While completing alignment on the runway, waiting for clearance from air traffic control, we engaged the auto-pilot,”
“We moved the throttle levers to the take-off setting and we monitored the aircraft. It started to move and accelerate automatically maintaining the runway centre line, at the exact rotation speed as entered in the system. The nose of the aircraft began to lift up automatically to take the expected take-off pitch value and a few seconds later we were airborne," Beaufils said.
This automated take-off used a vision based system rather than relying on the Instrument Landing System (ILS). Airbus explains that the existing ground equipment technology used by in-passenger aircraft at different airports where the technology was present enabled by image recognition technology installed directly on the aircraft.
Airbus Autonomous Taxi, Take-off and Landing (ATTOL) was launched in June 2018 is one of the technological flight demonstrators being tested by Airbus in order to understand the impact of autonomy on aircraft. Following this successful automated take-off will be automated vison-based taxi and landing sequences.
Airbus also shares that this technology is not to move ahead with autonomy as a target in itself, but instead to explore autonomous technologies alongside other innovations in areas such as materials, electrification and connectivity. Through all these studies and tests, Airbus to see and analyse the potential of such technology in addressing key industrial changes in the future. These include improving traffic management, addressing pilot shortages and enhancing future operations.
Airbus however clarifies that pilots will remain at the heart of flight operations and autonomous technologies are merely a support system for the pilots. This new technology will them to focus less on aircraft operation and more on strategic decision-making and mission management.
The aircraft manufacterer maintains that these technologies will improve aircraft safety while ensuring today's unprecedented levels are maintained.