Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you’ve heard about Garmin’s new Autoland solution. Part of Garmin’s Autonomí Autonomous Flight Solutions line, Autoland will do exactly what the product’s name states. In case of an emergency, Autoland will autonomously land the aircraft.
The amount of media coverage following Autoland’s announcement was staggering.
I read through several articles and watched more than a few videos from those invited to fly with Autoland.
But without fail, my favorite part of just about any story are the reader comments. I’m constantly amazed at the wide variety of responses and perspectives people have.
And in the case of Autoland, I wasn’t disappointed.
AVweb’s story has nearly three dozen comments. Tom C. says, “I used to really like technology advancement specific to avionics. Not so sure anymore. I think we’re crossing a line. Not sure what the line is or exactly where it is, but I sense something happening here and I’m not so sure I’m liking it.”
In response to Tom C., Mark F. says, “I think Garmin is stepping into the same territory as Boeing’s MCAS; they have not yet figured out the failure modes that can happen because of maintenance, wear, and/or circumstance. The first time this system ‘lands’ a plane into a bridge that was not in its database or mistakenly bleeds off the cabin pressure, or….”
Which led to YARS responding with, “It’s advertised as being for emergency use only. You already were screwed BEFORE you pushed the button. Garmin’s lawyers are even smarter than its engineers.”
Kurt Malerich at Boldmethod was very succinct, “Oh great, I’m out of a job.”
And Vic Thiessen takes Autoland’s capabilities a step or two further: “Wow!! Perhaps the end of getting lost, disoriented, CFIT, etc.”
Over at Business & Commercial Aviation, those in favor range from “As a 40 year private pilot, all I have to say is: “About Time!!!” to “Hooray for Garmin!!” and “A blessing for GA.”
On a slightly humorous note, one person noted, “As a passenger in an aircraft where the pilot just passed out, what do you mean ‘no panic button?'”
A sceptic asked, “The designed purpose is obvious and appropriate. How long will it take low-time pilots pushing their own personal minimums too far to start using this to complete a planned flight in marginal conditions versus diverting to a VFR airport 100 miles away?”
Among Flying magazine readers, Woody Wood said, “It will be just be a matter of time (probably a short time) till Garmin or someone else takes this a step further and certifies a similar system for autoland under normal circumstances for GA. That will be a good thing. Just one more major safety feature trickling down.”
And ModerateND asks, “Any idea how the system would know if the airport or runway was NOTAMd closed?”
On our story Dave wonders, “I wonder what the cost will be!? I would have to see a significant number of successful flight hours before I put my neck on the line, let alone that of my family. I can think of a hundred questions I would need answered. It would be a significant technological feat if it works. Think about it.”
Meanwhile, Jerry King responds with, “Wondering how many fools will depart in very marginal conditions thinking they can depend on electronics to safely return them. Maybe Garmin should introduce something like: AUTO HAVE ENOUGH SENSE TO STAY ON THE GROUND.”
And don’t forget about social media.
On our Facebook page, Andy Cole said, “I didn’t think pilots losing consciousness or dying while flying was that big of an occurrence. Seems like a much better idea than having a passenger with zero training try to land a plane! I doubt it would work ‘well’ for the actual touchdown, but a mild crash onto a runway is much better than someone having no clue try it.”
Josh Youssef was a bit harsher, “Just one more trinket to market aviation to people who have no business flying.”
On Garmin’s Facebook page, Lloyd Herring predicts Garmin’s future features: “Next year they will release the Auto Hover button for helicopters.”
There is no shortage of opinions, both positive and negative, on Garmin’s Autoland. We are pilots, after all.
As for me, while truly impressive, until the owner of the 1946 J-3 Cub I fly installs this system (which it will never be certified for), I’ll do my best to remain healthy. 😉