20 JANUARY 2020
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Following its unveiling of touchscreens for the A350 (BTN 6 January), Airbus has successfully performed the first fully-automatic vision-based take-off using an Airbus Family test aircraft at Toulouse-Blagnac airport.
It was enabled by image recognition technology installed directly on the aircraft rather than relying on an Instrument Landing System (ILS) ground equipment used by in-service passenger aircraft in airports where the technology is present.
The test crew led by Captain Yann Beaufils was made up of two pilots, two flight test engineers and a test flight engineer and the sortie conducted a total of eight take-offs over a period of 4.5hr.
Beaufils said: “The aircraft performed as expected beginning with engaging the autopilot as we completed alignment on the runway waiting for clearance from air traffic control.
“We moved the throttle levers to the take-off setting and monitored the aircraft as it started to move and accelerate automatically maintaining the runway centre line at the exact rotation speed as entered in the system.
“The nose of the aircraft began to lift automatically to take the expected take-off pitch value and a few seconds later we were airborne.”
Automatic take-off is one step in the Airbus Autonomous Taxi, Take-Off & Landing (ATTOL) project being tested to understand the impact of autonomy on aircraft. Next steps will see automatic vision-based taxi and landing sequences later this year.
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