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New iPad app performs auto-landings

January 10, 2011, 05:10 pm

Planes that can land themselves may sound futuristic, but the reality is this capability could be just on the horizon, according to a recent article in Popular Mechanics.

App developer Austin Meyer, creator of the flight simulator X-Plane, has created a new iPad app called EFIS-app, which has the capability of directing planes toward the closest airport and performing an auto-landing.

The app is generally intended for instances where a pilot becomes incapacitated during a flight and a passenger needs to take over. First, the passenger will pull back the throttle and press a red button on the airplane's instrument panel that will instruct the app to take over auto-piloting the plane. Second, the app will utilize the plane's built in navigation system to locate the closest airports within gliding distance and assess their runway lengths, potential obstacles and other variables, steering toward the best option for landing. Finally the plane will descend through waypoints and the passenger will manually deploy the landing gear.

Though the app can currently only be used by linking wirelessly with the flight simulator, Meyer is currently building a kit plane that will allow the app to connect to the plane's built-in flight controls.

Even with such groundbreaking safety technologies on the horizon, life insurance for pilots continues to be an important consideration, as accidents are a constant hazard.  

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