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Rockwell Collins' successful adaptation of unmanned technology for manned aircraft demonstrates enhanced safety through automation

Rockwell Collins recently demonstrated its ability to adapt unmanned auto land technology to manned systems in an effort to enhance safety in the future airspace.  

At a press conference at the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) conference held today, David Vos, senior director of Control Technologies for Rockwell Collins, provided insight on a current project with Hawker Beechcraft Corporation (HBC) to explore and adapt advanced flight control technologies originally developed for unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) for future use in general aviation airplanes.  

"This project with HBC shows what is possible by leveraging our UAS technology to potentially serve as a digital parachute in emergency situations," explained Vos. "Advanced automation and sensing technology, such as the Rockwell Collins Athena 411 flight control system that was used on this project, can play a critical role in enhancing the safety operations of both manned and unmanned aircraft. This is especially important as we move toward a future airspace that integrates both platforms."  

"We are continually looking for ways to improve the safety of our product and bring added value to our customers," said Ed Petkus, HBC vice president, Product Development and Engineering. "The successful flight demonstrations and teamwork with Rockwell Collins have the potential to do just that."  

The collaborative work with HBC began last year. A modified Bonanza conducted a series of hands-off landings during a test campaign at HBC's headquarters in Wichita, Kan. The test Bonanza was equipped with an experimental fly-by-wire flight control system. The airplane carried a crew of three to observe and monitor system operation and to provide a backup control capability. More testing is planned for the coming months.  

A video of the HBC flight demonstration was revealed at the press conference, and is available at www.rockwellcollins.com/news.  

The Rockwell Collins Athena 411 system provided flight guidance and control cues during the tests. For this project, Rockwell Collins engineers customized the Athena 411 flight-control system for the Bonanza platform while HBC engineers integrated the Athena 411 into the airplane's fly-by-wire system.  

Developed for both unmanned aerial systems and military applications, the Athena 411 provides full state vector for navigation, attitude, heading and air data, as well as autopilot and flight management system (FMS) control laws, with accuracy that is superior to traditional systems. The system integrates solid-state gyros and accelerometers, magnetometer, GPS receiver and air data sensors into a single small unit.  

Press release issued by Rockwell Collins Inc. on August 12, 2009


 Contact details from our directory:
Beechcraft Corporation Airframer
Rockwell Collins Inc. Head-Up Displays, Radio Communications Equipment, Moving Maps, Enhanced Vision Systems (EVS), LCD Displays, Engine Indicator Instruments, Cabin Management Systems, Automatic Flight Control Systems, Inflight Entertainment, Automatic Direction Finders, Cabin Address Systems, Autopilots, Radar/Radio Altimeters, Distance Measuring Equipment, VOR (Omnirange) Receivers, Avionics Management Systems, Air-to-Ground Data Links, Multi-Mode Receivers (MMR), Engine Control Quadrants, Control Panels, Aircraft & Helicopter Controllers, Collision Avoidance Systems/TCAS, Helmet-Mounted Displays (HMD), Weather Mapping Radar, Inertial Components & Systems, Attitude and Heading Reference Systems, Navigation Antennas, Transceivers, Flight Recorders, Cockpit Printers, Flight Directors, Flight Management Systems, Electronic Flight Instrument Systems, Air Data Computers, Onboard Computers, UAV Control Software, GPS, Simulation Systems, Surveillance/Air Defense Radar, Engine Controls, Terrain Awareness and Warning Systems, Horizontal Situation Indicator, Instrument Landing Systems, Command, Control & Intelligence Systems


 Related aircraft programs:
Beechcraft Bonanza G36


 Related directory sectors:
Navigation Aids (Airborne)
Flight and Data Management

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