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Garmin autolands Collier Trophy

The National Aeronautic Association has awarded its 2020 Robert J. Collier Trophy to Garmin for its breakthrough Garmin Autoland, the first certified autonomous system that can activate in an emergency to land an aircraft without human intervention.

“The Garmin Autoland system marks a significant improvement in civil aviation,” said NAA Chairman Jim Albaugh in a June 3 announcement. “Its ability to take over an airplane with a disabled pilot and land it safely will save many lives in the future. It’s a remarkable technical achievement and clearly merits the Collier Trophy.”

Noting that pilot incapacitation accidents are rare but predictably fatal, the NAA praised the creation of Garmin Autoland as an effort “born of a moral responsibility and obligation to improve and enhance the safety of the entire aviation industry.”

A passenger can activate the system with the press of a button. Once activated, “the system calculates a flight path to the most suitable airport, while avoiding terrain and adverse weather, initiates a stabilized approach to the runway and lands the aircraft—without pilot or passenger intervention,” the announcement said.

“Autoland began as a simple exploration to develop automation technology for general aviation aircraft,” said Garmin President Cliff Pemble. “It is a tremendous honor for Autoland to be recognized as one of the greatest achievements in aviation history. We owe this accomplishment to the many Garmin associates who dedicated themselves to creating this game-changing aviation safety technology.”

Photo by Chris Rose

AOPA Editor in Chief Thomas B. Haines gave AOPA Pilot readers a pilot’s-eye view of Garmin Autoland in his October 2019 article “Hands Off,” noting after seeing it in action that the technology “appears very ready for prime time.” In April 2020, AOPA Pilot Editor at Large Dave Hirschman reported on Garmin Autoland’s potential to have a profound and long-lasting impact on general aviation.

Autoland has been certified for the Piper M600/SLS, the Daher TBM 940, and the Cirrus SF50 Vision Jet.

A date for the formal presentation of the Collier Trophy, which is awarded annually for “the greatest achievement in aeronautics or astronautics in America,” will be announced later, the NAA said.

AOPA ePublishing staff

AOPA ePublishing Staff editors are experienced pilots, flight instructors, and aircraft owners who have a passion for bringing you the latest news and AOPA announcements.
Topics: Technology, Awards and Records

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