Airbus A350 Successfully Completes Automated Takeoff Tests

Today, Airbus shared a revolutionary demonstration of one of its A350-1000s taking off automatically. The aircraft departed its runway by using a vision-based automated system.

Airbus A350-1000
Airbus has demonstrated the ability to conduct automated take-offs using one of its beloved A350-1000s. Photo: Airbus

Milestone achievement

The initial testing of this system was carried out at Toulouse on December 18. However, the manufacturer has now shared a video of the process in action on its Twitter account.

The Autonomous Taxi, Take-Off and Landing (ATTOL) demonstrator project is part of the plane manufacturer’s UpNext program. This initiative was started with the goal of finding technological breakthroughs in aviation.

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Flight Global reports that a crew of five pilots performed eight flights within a time of around 4.5 hours. They helped test the first first-ever fully automatic vision-based takeoff. While this process continues to be smoothed out, Airbus hopes to introduce vision-based taxi and landing sequences sometime this year.

A350-1000
Modern technology is set to have a massive impact on the way aircraft will operate this decade. Photo: Airbus

Part of a wider project

ATTOL Project Lead Sébastien Giuliano shared that many aircraft are already able to land automatically. However, those planes rely on external resources such as Instrument Landing System (ILS) and GPS signals.

Therefore, his team hopes to automate these processes by solely using on-board technology. He believes that this will maximize efficiency while reducing costs.

During the testing, the aircraft’s autopilot was turned on when it was aligned with the runway. According to test Pilot Yann Beaufils, the crew shifted the throttle levers to the take-off setting while they examined the plane.

Thereafter, the jet identified the centerline and began rotating the direct pitch at the speed that was logged with the system. Ultimately, the plane took off and continued to perform as expected.

Industry changes

Airbus shared that even though it is seeing advancement in automation, its pilots will remain at the core of its services. Moreover, it wants to use this technology to resolve the challenges that the industry faces.

A350-1000 Cockpit
Along with their importance to operations, pilots will also help Airbus’ new techniques be implemented. Photo: Airbus

“Autonomous technologies are paramount to supporting pilots, enabling them to focus less on aircraft operation and more on strategic decision-making and mission management,” the manufacturer said, as reported by Flight Global.

However, Airbus does highlight that technology had already reduced the need for three pilots in the cockpit to two. Altogether, it is invested in the idea of a “tailored combination of human and machine” that will continue to evolve together.

Simple Flying reached out to Airbus for comment on its successful demonstration but did not hear back before publication. We will update the article with any further information.

What are your thoughts on this progress by Airbus? Let us know what you think in the comment section.

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Moaz Abid

Dubai uses automatic taxi systems at DXB. But well done Airbus, fly on to the future

Martin

So Airbus can program a plane to safely go to a runway and takeoff; but Boeing cannot get the basics of just keeping a plane in the air (MCAS)? This shows how embracing the fly by wire design and build philosophy has let Airbus leapfrog over Boeing. Oh how the mighty has fallen. 🙁

Gerry S

Great! Super cool!

Henry

IT experts have a good expression: “If it’s connected, it’s vulnerable to hacking” https://businesstech.co.za/news/internet/74704/if-its-connected-its-vulnerable-to-hacking/
https://forex-technology.capitalmarketsciooutlook.com/cioviewpoint/if-it-s-connected-it-s-vulnerable-everything-is-connected-nwid-48.html
Nowadays nearly everybody is welcoming these kind of developments and technologies.
But whenever I read / hear / see something about “Autonomy, Automated, Autonomus, Connected” I feel bad.
Especially “Always Connected” devices are my worst nightmares.
These kinds of technologies are great “Control Instruments” for the Police States, Dictatorships and Big Brothers.
Technology becomes more and more dangerous as it evolves.
Never forget George Orwell.

Blair

Why is automatic take-off important? Aren’t there a pilot and co-pilot there to do that? How about auto landing, and perhaps more important, auto take over and landing in the event that depressurization and/or sudden loss of oxygen to the pilots?

High Mile Club

As good as it sounds, I think it might be a problem in the future if pilots only know how to respond to trying to fix aircraft systems and not know how to actually fly the plane if the situation calls for it. Sure, we have automatic landing systems designated by an ILS, which is helpful and could’ve been helpful in a number of situations that would’ve prevented a crash, but it’s still not the same as actually gripping the control in your hands and ‘feeling’ the aircraft as it flies.

In many ways, advances in technology has reduced human error when it comes to flying; but it will always have vulnerabilities. And I hope someone doesn’t find a way to remotely hack aircraft in the air.

sangs patel

great innovation….

Jeff D.

I think the operative word here is “supporting…” I would never set foot on an aircraft that was completely autonomous.