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Aug 23, 2019,  by Allianz Partners Business Insights

A plane that can land itself autonomously, a first in aviation history

Researchers at the Technical University of Munich, Germany, have developed a new system enabling aircraft to land autonomously. Thanks to this innovation, they have successfully landed a light aircraft without human intervention, a first in aviation history.


Most air accidents occur during take-off and landing, the trickiest parts of any flight. In seeking to address the problems than can arise as a result of human error, researchers at the Technical University of Munich (Germany) have developed a new pilot system, as reported by the website Presse-Citron. Named C2Land, the system can fly planes without the intervention of a pilot, even during the landing phase.


A fully autonomous landing 


Planes are currently fitted with an Instrument Landing System that allows them to land in complete safety, even when the visibility is reduced. The system relies on radio signals on the ground and on-board receivers to ascertain the plane’s position, which is not the case with C2Land.

The new innovation enables aircraft to land autonomously without receiving any signals on the ground, a technical feat made possible by the presence of smart cameras that operate in both visible and infrared and are positioned on the nose of the aircraft. Connected to GPS, the cameras allow the aircraft to calculate the glide path they need to take to land safely.


An aviation revolution


The innovation is interesting in more ways than one. Only major airports currently have access to systems enabling aircraft to land autonomously. The C2Land software could make the technology available to all airports, including the smallest and most poorly equipped. 

C2Land could also enhance passenger safety, though it will be several years yet before the new system becomes available on the market.


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