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Fri, Aug 14, 2009

Rockwell Collins Continues Auto-Landing Technology Development

Video Released At Unmanned Vehicle Conference Wednesday

Rockwell Collins recently demonstrated its ability to adapt unmanned auto land technology to manned systems in an effort to enhance safety in the future airspace.

At a news conference at the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) conference held Wednesday, David Vos, senior director of Control Technologies for Rockwell Collins, provided insight on a current project with Hawker Beechcraft Corporation (HBC) to explore and adapt advanced flight control technologies originally developed for unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) for future use in general aviation airplanes.

“This project with HBC shows what is possible by leveraging our UAS technology to potentially serve as a digital parachute in emergency situations,” explained Vos. “Advanced automation and sensing technology, such as the Rockwell Collins Athena 411 flight control system that was used on this project, can play a critical role in enhancing the safety operations of both manned and unmanned aircraft. This is especially important as we move toward a future airspace that integrates both platforms.”

“We are continually looking for ways to improve the safety of our product and bring added value to our customers,” said Ed Petkus, HBC vice president, Product Development and Engineering. “The successful flight demonstrations and teamwork with Rockwell Collins have the potential to do just that.”

The collaborative work with HBC began last year. A modified Bonanza conducted a series of hands-off landings during a test campaign at HBC’s headquarters in Wichita, KS. The test Bonanza was equipped with an experimental fly-by-wire flight control system. The airplane carried a crew of three to observe and monitor system operation and to provide a backup control capability. More testing is planned for the coming months.

The Rockwell Collins Athena 411 system provided flight guidance and control cues during the tests. For this project, Rockwell Collins engineers customized the Athena 411 flight-control system for the Bonanza platform while HBC engineers integrated the Athena 411 into the airplane’s fly-by-wire system.

Bonanza File Photo

Developed for both unmanned aerial systems and military applications, the Athena 411 provides full state vector for navigation, attitude, heading and air data, as well as autopilot and flight management system (FMS) control laws, with accuracy that is superior to traditional systems. The system integrates solid-state gyros and accelerometers, magnetometer, GPS receiver and air data sensors into a single small unit.



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