Cirrus debuts autonomous flight with safe return emergency autoland

Cirrus Aircraft is to introduce Safe Return – a revolutionary emergency autoland system that enables passengers to land the Vision Jet with just the touch of a single button.

Once activated when available, Safe Return assumes control of the aircraft and transforms the Vision Jet into an autonomous vehicle that navigates to the nearest suitable airport for landing, communicates with air traffic control, lands and brings the aircraft safely to a complete stop. The Vision Jet, with both Safe Return and the award-winning Cirrus Airframe Parachute System, provides a comprehensive, must-have total safety solution unique to G2 Vision Jet operators.

“Our mission is to make personal aviation more accessible by continuing to improve passenger comfort and safety,” said Zean Nielsen, Cirrus Aircraft chief executive. “Safe Return delivers the next step towards autonomous flight, bringing a new level of confidence to the overall flying experience by providing the ultimate level of safety and control to passengers. Together, with the Cirrus Airframe Parachute System, we have once again set a new standard for safety in personal air travel.”

Easily accessible by passengers in the Vision Jet cabin, Safe Return is activated by the touch of a button when available. Once pressed, the autonomous system analyzes terrain and datalink weather to determine the optimal airport for landing, and simultaneously begins communication with Air Traffic Control (ATC). Powered by the Perspective Touch+ by Garmin flight deck, Safe Return utilizes all available aircraft data streams, including available fuel, to safely navigate the Vision Jet to the identified airport and transition on to final approach for the appropriate runway based on ground winds.

Autothrottle – launched earlier this year on the new G2 Vision Jet –and the automatic flight control system manage the aircraft’s speed, altitude and path, while the system automatically lowers the flaps and landing gear on final approach. Safe Return culminates in the aircraft making a fully autonomous landing on the intended runway and coming to a complete stop, allowing passengers to exit the aircraft.

Included during this entire process is constant communication with ATC – another layer of autonomy that provides assurance to passengers experiencing a critical situation. Upon activation, Safe Return immediately transmits an emergency message to ATC. Using text and speech technology, the system communicates the aircraft’s intentions over the appropriate ATC frequency, the 121.5 emergency voice frequency, and also switches to the universal emergency transponder code.

ATC is automatically updated at regular intervals of the aircraft’s location, emergency situation and intended airport landing location. These communications begin the process of activating emergency services at the airport of intended landing to assist the passenger and pilot upon arrival.  Safe Return can be easily disengaged by the pilot with a simple press of the Autopilot disconnect button on the yoke if a passenger inadvertently activates the system.

In 2016, Cirrus Aircraft ushered in a new era in personal transportation with the FAA certification of the world’s first single-engine Personal Jet – the Vision Jet. The turbine aircraft defined a new category in aviation – the Personal Jet – with its spacious pilot and passenger-friendly cabin featuring panoramic windows, reclining seats, comfortable legroom for five adults and two children and the only turbine aircraft with a whole airframe parachute system as standard equipment. Earlier this year, Cirrus Aircraft unveiled and began delivery of the G2 Vision Jet, offering enhanced performance, comfort and safety with increased cruise altitude, speed and range, and a newly-upgraded Perspective Touch+ by Garmin flight deck. The company expects to begin delivery of Vision Jets equipped with Safe Return in early 2020.

32 Comments

  1. How about no More pilots. Pandora box is open and followers are clapping. End of human race. We Will be slave of machines.

  2. Interesting capability. As expected, when the tech is further enhanced to auto taxi, optimum cruise, and takeoff ability, the perceived pilot shortage may be short lived indeed.

  3. I see they are also doing it in the Piper 600.
    It seems really great now. I guess we will have to wait for the first accident with Auto-land engaged to see how truly great it is. That single engine V Tail Jet reminds me of the last single engine V tail made. The Beechcraft Bonanza got its nick name, the doctor killer for a reason.

  4. Innovation is hard to swallow when your old. Glad I’m only 83 on Dec. 17th. This is a great breakthrough in safety. Say thanks to Garmin!

    • What a fantastic development! Sounds beyond imagination. Wish I had one and I am only 77 years young.

  5. End of fun. End of the challenges of manipulating the controls of an aircraft. I may no want to feel like flying my airplane anymore…

    • In good VFC I make a point of turning the automation off, hand flying, and navigating by pilotage (perhaps with a VOR). I keep reading horror stories about newly minted ATPs who can’t hand fly their airplane.

  6. Should also include CO detection to activate the Safe Return and to bleed fresh air into the space.

  7. I think it’s a great alternative to die as passengers, unable to land a jet aircraft. I flew a Cirrus SR20 for 10 years and never thought that the CAP System was there to make me an unsafe or careless pilot; I’ve always thought of it as a last resource alternative to an inevitable crash. Cirrus will always innovate and it will always be criticized for doing so. Pilots will be in the cockpit for generations to come, in a diminished capacity, granted, but they will be needed to assure that if machines fail, humans can land the aircraft. This innovation is a extra layer of protection in case the pilot is incapacitated; nothing else.

  8. The inevitable progress of technology will eventually eliminated the human pilot from air travel. One hundred percent safe transportation by air is the ultimate but unobtainable goal, we should embrace that goal. For most people air travel is simply a means for getting from A to B, there will still be fun and adventure and opportunity to develop flying skills and enjoy the freedom of flight for those that want it, in recreational aircraft.

  9. With a valid pilot license and proper jet training could someone fly one of these without a valid medical certificate?

  10. My friends laughed at EFIS in homebuilt 10 yrs ago. Not laughing now. This is one more evolution. There will come a time in the not to distant future and pilots will be mere folklore. The purity of manipulating the controls of a plane is something most will never know a few years from now. But it will be safer

  11. They are going to debut…. It isn’t THERE yet…
    That is just like saying we ARE GOING to Mars.
    They have to figure out how someone can’t hack it and use like a guided missile .

    • Last sentence of the article: “The company expects to begin delivery of Vision Jets equipped with Safe Return in early 2020”.

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