Flight tests evaluate sensors for autonomous landing

June 24, 2020 //By Rich Pell
Flight tests evaluate sensors for autonomous landing
Honeywell has announced that it has begun in-flight testing of sensors that will guide urban air mobility (UAM) vehicles to land without pilot intervention.

Testing of these sensors, says the company, is currently underway to gather data and refine their capabilities to support future autonomous landing capabilities. Aircraft involved in the testing are outfitted with Honeywell sensors and include cameras that analyze visual markings resembling quick response (QR) codes, which help guide the vehicle to a designated landing spot.

This, says the company, is a key first step for the future of flight as it adds sensors that support safer, autonomous urban air mobility operations.

"Introducing numerous piloted and autonomous aircraft in dense urban environments is a real challenge in making the UAM vision achievable," says Matt Picchetti, vice president and general manager, Navigation and Sensors, Honeywell Aerospace. "Navigation is a key part of Honeywell's heritage, from the industry's first autopilot to the opportunities we see today in urban air mobility. We are drawing on this expertise and our problem-solving capabilities to lead the way in identifying and bringing to market the most effective technologies to support safer, and increasingly autonomous, UAM operations."

Data collection was compiled in Arizona using the company's AS350 helicopter, and additional testing is planned in collaboration with Honeywell's partners. This milestone in testing, says the company, furthers the initiative to achieve cleaner, safer, and smarter aircraft and signals important progress to the goal.

As testing and data collection move from proof-of-concept prototypes to reality, says the company, there are many benefits to improving navigation and implementing features such as automatic landing:

  • With more automatic features and processes, pilot workloads will ease and critical maneuvers during intense phases of flight will become easier and safer.
  • Operations may also benefit from the strategic use of autonomous landing, making vehicle throughput more predictable and reducing turnaround time.
  • Passengers ultimately can benefit from the improved reliability, safety and comfort of smoother autonomous landing practices along with more reliable transportation schedules.

The company says its data collection work will continue for the rest of


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