Airbus successfully performed the first fully
automatic vision-based take-off using an Airbus Family test
aircraft at Toulouse-Blagnac airport on 18 December.
The test crew comprising of two pilots, two flight
test engineers and a test flight engineer took off initially at
around 10h15 and conducted a total of 8 take-offs over a period of
four and a half hours.
“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,” said Airbus Test Pilot Captain Yann Beaufils. “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 centre 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.”
relying on an Instrument Landing System (ILS), the existing ground
equipment technology currently used by in-service passenger
aircraft in airports around the world where the technology is
present, this automatic take-off was enabled by image recognition
technology installed directly on the aircraft.
Automatic take-off is an important milestone in Airbus’ Autonomous
Taxi, Take-Off & Landing (ATTOL) project. Launched in June 2018,
ATTOL is one of the technological flight demonstrators being
tested by Airbus in order to understand the impact of autonomy on
aircraft. The next steps in the project will see automatic
vision-based taxi and landing sequences taking place by mid-2020.