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
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
“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.