Garmin Announces Emergency Autoland


Garmin says it is forever changing aviation with its Emergency Autoland system, which is the third layer of autonomous automation in the Autonomi suite that’s built into the G3000 integrated flight deck. In an emergency the pilot and passengers can engage Autoland with a single button push (or the system will activate itself if it senses the pilot has checked out), it determines the most optimal airport and runway, flies a precision GPS approach and landing to that runway all while taking into account weather, terrain, obstacles and aircraft performance capabilities.

That’s an Autoland-equipped G3000 suite in the 2020 Piper M600 SLS turboprop single.

Once activated, other factors taken into consideration when identifying the most suitable field (with a hard surface and a GPS approach with vertical guidance) include runway length and the amount of fuel onboard, plus it communicates the emergency on the appropriate ATC or Unicom facility. The system is only intended for use during an emergency—pilot incapacitation, as one example—and it can be disconnected at any time with the autopilot disengage switch.

The MFD in the G3000 switches to plain-language mode when Autoland is activated.

So passengers don’t have to sift through all that data that’s usually shown on the G3000 flight displays, Autoland provides simple on-screen visual cues and verbally communicates the intentions even advising how to talk on the radio should they want to, and how to operate the cabin door once the system has the airplane and the engine stopped. The automation—which includes autothrottle—automatically controls the cabin pressurization system, the flaps, the landing gear and has automatic braking.

If the aircraft needs additional time to properly commence the instrument approach to landing, Autoland automatically climbs and it can fly a standard holding pattern, while the autothrottle manages speed and altitude. Once on the runway, automatic braking is applied and the system tracks the runway centerline while bringing the aircraft to a stop.

Garmin’s Autonomi includes autopilot-based functionality including Electronic Stability and Protection (ESP), Emergency Descent Mode (EDM) and now the third layer, which is Emergency Autoland. Garmin says the Autoland will soon be available as part of the G3000 flight deck on the Piper M600 SLS and also on the Cirrus Vision Jet models for 2020. At press time, both are pending final FAA certification, and the system will be blanketed under the specific aircraft’s type certification. Click the link below for an exclusive flight demo video of the Autoland in a 2020 Piper M600 from sister publication Aviation Consumer magazine.

Larry Anglisano
Larry Anglisano is a regular AVweb contributor and the Editor in Chief of sister publication Aviation Consumer magazine. He's an active land, sea and glider pilot, and has over 30 years experience as an avionics tech.

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  1. Great video.
    I regret the use of the phrase “layers of autonomy,” but Garmin’s intent is made quite clear in the video.
    Brave. New. World.

  2. Seems this should be easy to incorporate on any aircraft with an autopilot. Sure, items such as throttles and brakes may not be controlled but sure seems that the rest could. Since this is a pilot incapacitation event, it would still alleviate a non-pilot from flight controls and better the chances of a positive outcome…

  3. Even without auto throttle this could be very useful in case of pilot incapacitation. Setting power is straight forward that any passenger can do. The flight controls is where things can get complicated.

  4. Does my crystal ball see no pilot in the not so distant future? Just get in and say Garmi take me to Nantucket. Garmi will do the rest. Look at the bright side, it may keep us old geezers in the air longer.

    • I was SO buoyed watching the video, Leo. With us “old geezers” keeling over in such large numbers daily, spending all this $$ to ensure that the pax get back on terra firma safely is likely worth the investment. A great investment for my $50K 172. So Larry never said how the “system” detects that the pilot is incapacitated. Does he have to wear a head position sensor or otherwise wire him/her up?

    • Most accidents are caused by human error. Solution; eliminate the human from the system.Airlines have reduced (but not eliminated) the human factor from accidents by training their pilots to levels we cannot achieve in general aviation. While there will always be aircraft people hand-fly for fun, for personal transportation autonomous aircraft are the future.

      • Orders of magnitude more potential accidents are avoided by human intelligence and never show up in accident reports.

  5. Here we go again. Developing Aeronautical Sociotechnical issues, adding expensive complex matter and for the most part inapplicable.

  6. AOPA’s T. Haines: “ But just as briefed, the airplane “decrabbed” from the 10-knot left crosswind and soon plunked us down just left of center on Runway 18 at New Century AirCenter in Olathe, Kansas, and then quickly tracked us back to the centerline. A few seconds later we rolled to a stop. I looked left at Eric Sargent, Garmin flight test pilot, who smiled broadly from the left seat of the Piper M600. “What do you think?” he asked. “Stunned,” I said. “That’s pretty amazing.” And such was my introduction to Garmin’s new autoland system, a first in general aviation.”

    Why am I skeptical?

  7. Larry, I think it will just be an EEG to check for brain activity. Then too, in that case, it just may not let me work the controls at any time after engine start.

    • Leo … Larry Anglisano emailed me and answered my question. He said, “the system assumes you’ve checked out if you don’t interact with it as you generally do with the G3000 through CAS messaging.” But you bring up a good point … Garmin could design a system which deciphers your mental state and capabilities and IF it decides you’re a moron who shouldn’t be flying a Piper M600 or maybe you’re just not on your game that day, it could take the airplane away from you much like a “Captain” might. I still wonder if Boeing’s Dennis Muilenburg knows about this latest offering from Garmin … perhaps — with a little ODA oversight — such a system could be coupled to the B737Max8 to get it back into the air sooner ?

      THAT idea then begs the next. If the airplane is smarter than the pilot, why do we need the FAA. ANYONE could just go buy an M600 and fly it without a medical because — well — the airplane is smarter than the pilot.

      It’s a brave new world out there … someone already said that. Insofar as you are concerned, Leo …. I think you’re safe …

  8. Saw the video. Impressive. May I suggest a sheepherder’s hook extending out of the PF’s seat to hold the incapacitated pilot’s head and upper body away from the controls?

  9. Did anyone else hear the voice of HAL from 2001 Space Odyssey? “I’m sorry, Dave, I can’t land the plane.”

  10. It’s totally apparent to me that Garmin has driven ALL of us here off the deep end on this one !! At what point does TOTAL autonomy negate the need for a pilot at all ?

  11. It’s amazing how far technology has come….
    and how much it requires constant upkeep or else it too becomes just yet another problem itself.

    • I used to really like technology advancement specific to avionics. Not so sure anymore. I think we’re crossing a line. Not sure what the line is or exactly where it is, but, I sense something happening here and I’m not so sure I’m liking it.

      • I think Garmin is stepping into the same territory as Boeing’s MCAS; they have not yet figured out the failure modes that can happen because of maintenance, wear, and/or circumstance.

        The first time this system “lands” a plane into a bridge that was not in it’s database or mistakenly bleeds off the cabin pressure, or….

        • It’s advertised as being for emergency use only. You already were screwed, BEFORE you pushed the button. Garmin’s lawyers are even smarter than its engineers.

          • “You already were screwed, BEFORE you pushed the button”

            You nailed it.
            It begs the question for installing the button.

  12. What happens if fuel is low and you are not close enough to an FAA controlled airport, but there are a couple of small uncontrolled airports nearby?

      • Yup. How would the presence of a human pilot embue the aircraft with better glide capabilities than it would have with a machine at the helm? If anything, the machine would be more able to extract every bit of available performance.

        FAR 91.119 a is a fascinating piece of work…