German motorglider manufacturer Stemme has demonstrated an automatic flight control system that is under development for airborne sensor versions of its aircraft. The LAPAZ system will eventually be able to take control of a flight from takeoff to landing and on March 22 it put a STEMME S15 right on the centerline of the runway at Neuhardenburg, near Berlin. The "pilot assistance system," as Stemme refers to it, is designed for flights with a pilot on board. An enhanced version will be installed in unmanned aerial vehicle versions of the aircraft. The system also has a "gust alleviation system" to minimize the effect of rough air during sensor missions. The March 22 flight tested the flexibility of the LAPAZ system as well as its precision.
After a conventional takeoff with project head and test pilot Lothar Dalldorff at the controls, LAPAZ took over and first took the aircraft on a low pass down the centerline. As it was getting set up for landing, the wind changed and the system had to be reconfigured for a landing from the opposite end of the runway. The system, monitored by Dalldorff, established the aircraft on a five-degree glide and flared at the right moment for a soft landing on the main gear and automatically deployed the air brakes. The system has been tested repeatedly since the first landing, said STEMME officials.