Airbus is attempting to improve the autopilot by adding more settings.

It is only possible to visit the Airbus site in Toulouse and feel a little overawed by its size and scope.

It is a massive facility that serves as a workplace for 28,000 employees and welcomes hundreds of tourists each day who are interested in seeing the construction of airplanes.

The massive Beluga freight jet is now waiting at a loading dock, ready to deliver automobiles and satellites all across the globe.

The hangar where the supersonic passenger plane Concorde was designed is conveniently located close to where we do our interviews.

This location is also the center of much research and development for Airbus, notably the recently concluded Project Dragonfly, which was an attempt to enhance the capabilities of the autopilot.

Automation in the aviation industry during the last half-century has fundamentally changed the function of the pilot. These days, pilots get a lot more help from technology in the cockpit than they did in the past.

Project Dragonfly, which was carried out on an Airbus A350-1000, resulted in an even greater extension of the plane’s autonomy.

The project primarily focused on improving the autonomous landing system, automating the emergency diversion system, and providing taxi assistance.

Airbus conducted tests on an automated emergency descent system.

The final one is the most striking of them.

The Chief Test Pilot for Airbus’s commercial aircraft, Malcolm Ridley, assuaged our concerns by assuring us that the likelihood of our being involved in an aviation mishap is “vanishingly minimal.”

Nevertheless, aircraft and crew need to be ready for any circumstance; hence, Project Dragonfly tested an autonomous emergency descent system.

If the pilots need to concentrate on making important decisions or if they become unable to do so for whatever reason, technology will take over and make those decisions for them.

The plane is capable of descending and landing under its own control, all while being aware of other aircraft, the weather, and the terrain.

Additionally, the technology enables the airplane to communicate with air traffic control through radio using an artificially generated voice that was developed with the help of artificial intelligence.

It is a lot for the systems aboard the aircraft to process at once.

According to Miguel Mendes Dias, an Automated Emergency Operations Designer, one of the problems was training the system to grasp all of the inputs and provide a solution.

“It is necessary for the aircraft to retrieve all of the information independently. Therefore, it is essential for it to pay attention to the airport communications that come from air traffic control.

“After that, it needs to choose the airport that is the most appropriate for the detour,” he added.

Project Dragonfly was able to complete two emergency descents without incident.

The French air traffic controllers had a complete understanding of the scenario throughout the test flights, which resulted in a safe landing for the aircraft.

Mr. Mendes describes it as “really a remarkable achievement,” and he is right.

The new technology allows for the generation of a new flight trajectory plan as well as the autonomous landing of the aircraft.

Thankfully, the vast majority of landings are somewhat less exciting, and Project Dragonfly investigated both the unusual and more common types of landings.

The majority of major airports have what is known as precision approach technology, which directs planes onto the runway.

But since such technology is present at only some of the airports on the globe, Airbus has been looking into other methods of landing.

Project Dragonfly investigated the potential of using a variety of sensors to assist an airplane in performing an autonomous landing.

It comprised making use of regular cameras, infrared technology, and radar equipment all at the same time.

In addition, the team collected data from locations all around the globe in order to be able to replicate a diverse range of climatic conditions.

When watching the landing, the additional sensors provide the pilot with more clarity in addition to providing the aircraft with other information.

For instance, infrared cameras are helpful in situations when there is a lot of cloud cover because the closer you approach an item, the more heat a sensor that detects infrared may take up.

According to Nuria Torres Mataboch, a computer vision expert working on the Dragonfly project, the technology “will make the pilot comfortable in the fact that he’s truly aligned and on the correct course to get to the airport.”

In addition to looking at taxiing, the “Inside the Body for an Airbus Plane with Technology Wiring” Project Dragonfly research looked into Despite the fact that this may seem like a simple duty, it often proves to be the most challenging aspect of the job, particularly in the largest airports in the world.

In this instance, the pilot was in command of the airplane they were flying.

The system was able to give the crew audible warnings. Therefore, when the aircraft encountered obstructions, it sent a notice. In addition to that, it provided pilots with speed advice and directed them to the runway.

Mr. Ridley said that “We needed something that would help minimize the burdens of the pilots when they were in the taxi phase.”

What are pilots’ thoughts on these recent developments? Some people do not want the technology to be advanced to its full potential.

According to Tony Lucas, president of the Australian and International Pilots Association, “I don’t know if any pilot is pleased with the computer being the single judge of whether or not a flight successfully lands.” “I don’t know if any pilot is particularly comfortable with the computer being the sole arbiter of whether or not an aircraft successfully lands.”

In addition to this, he is skeptical that autonomous aircraft would be able to navigate through difficult situations when they arise successfully.

He made these remarks from his home base at Sydney Airport. “Automation can’t replace the decision-making of two well-trained and rested pilots on the flight deck,” he added.

Mr. Lucas referenced the example of the Boeing 737 Max, in which two deadly disasters caused by an automated system occurred in 2018 and 2019.

Airbus is keen to stress that further automation will only be introduced when it is safe to do so and that the goal is not to eliminate pilots from the cockpit altogether.

But will one-day passenger aircraft fly without pilots?

“Fully automated aircraft would only ever occur if it were definitely and surely the safest way to go to safeguard our passengers and crew,” says Mr. Ridley. “Fully automated aircraft are not on the horizon.”

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