Is there a pilot on the plane ? Airbus tests emergency assistance capable of flying without humans

Samir Rahmoun

January 15, 2023 at 11:45 a.m.


ATTOL Airbus A350-1000 © Airbus


Airbus is testing a back-up system for aircraft in the event of an emergency.

Called DragonFly, he could take control of the device if ever a problem arose during the journey. Is this a first step in a possible emergence, in the long term, of “autonomous” planes?

DragonFly, to your rescue

Autonomous driving has been a big topic in the automotive field for a few years, with many manufacturers who have since tried their luck. And if the total range of the vehicle is still a ambitious goal as Tesla defines it to defend itself against its detractors, cars can now perform many tasks on their own. Accelerating, braking, changing lanes… So many driving moments taken into account by certain vehicles.

The aeronautical industry seems to have smelled the vein. This is shown by the world number 1 in the sector, Airbus, with its DragonFly pilot assistance, currently being tested. This tool can divert a plane in an emergency, but also choose the best route to reach an airport, communicate with air traffic controllers and even, in the event of the pilot’s incapacitation, land the plane.

Airbus A350-1000 tests assistance

DragonFly is not confined to aerial activities alone. It can also guide the plane, once on the ground, on the tarmac, by transforming the instructions from the control tower into orientation indications. With the sensors installed on the fuselage, it can also detect obstacles and regulate the speed of the aircraft.

For the moment, the European manufacturer has only tested this assistant on its Airbus A350-1000 jumbo jet. We are therefore still far from the official commissioning, especially since the regulators will first have to examine the system from all angles to guarantee the absence of risks. However, at the rate of progress, and above all, given the much fewer obstacles in the air than on the ground, who can tell us what will await us in 10 years?

Source : Engadget

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