Airbus A350 Demonstrates First Fully Automatic Vision-Based Take-Off

Airbus A350-1000
Airbus A350 Demonstrates First Fully Automatic
Vision-Based Take-Off Photo: Airbus

Airbus has successfully demonstrated the first fully automatic vision-based take-off using an A350-1000 aircraft configured for flight testing.

Airbus successfully performed the automated take-off at Toulouse-Blagnac airport on 18th December 2019. Two pilots, two flight engineers and a test flight engineer were on board the test flight.

As reported by Airbus a total of 8 take-offs were conducted over a period of four and a half hour using the testbud.

How Test Pilot reacted?

Airbus Test Pilot Captain Yann Beaufils said, “The aircraft performed as expected during these milestone tests. While completing alignment on the runway, waiting for clearance from air traffic control, we engaged the auto-pilot.”

“We moved the throttle levers to the take-off setting and we monitored the aircraft. It started to move and accelerate automatically maintaining the runway center line, at the exact rotation speed as entered in the system. The nose of the aircraft began to lift up automatically to take the expected take-off pitch value and a few seconds later we were airborne.” he added.

Airbus marches ahead in its ATOL project which was launced in June 2018 Photo: Airbus

Airbus published a video which shows the image recognition system actively reading runway markings, to keep the testbud aligned, before the nose began to lift up automatically, based on inputted take-off datas.

How was the aircrafts performance being observed?

A total of three plane’s camera usually located on the tail, belly and near the forward landing gear of the aircraft ensured the plane was heading in the right direction as per the inputted performance datas.

The cameras were fitted with technology to recognize the runway so that it could keep a straight path when departing.

Airbus said that these type of automated technologies are crucial to supporting pilots by reducing the workload during take-off and landing. This will eventually allow the pilots to focus on decision making and flight management rather than operating the aircraft. As Airbus A350s are operating some of the Worlds Longest Flights, this technology will help to ensure a safe and efficient flight. Many long-haul flights are also proposed using this aircraft type. Qantas also selected Airbus A350s for its Project Sunrise flights. 

Does it mean reduction in Pilots demand?

However, Airbus said, “Pilots will remain at the heart of the operations.” This automatic take-off is a crucial milestone in Airbus’ Autonomous Taxi, Take-Off and Landing (ATOL) project which was launched back in June 2018.

Airbus A350
Airbus will see automatic taxi and landing in 2020

Airbus also stated that next steps in the project will see automatic vision-based taxi and landing sequences taking place by mid-2020.

What are your thoughts on this recent milestone?

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