The cheapest private jet in the world can now land itself with the push of a button. We tested the revolutionary new emergency system.
- A groundbreaking new feature on the Cirrus Vision Jet can automatically land the plane in an emergency, no pilot needed.
- The Safe Return Emergency Autoland System, designed by Garmin, can automatically figure out the best airport and runway, plot a flight path, communicate with air traffic control and other planes, navigate, and land the plane - all with the touch of a button.
- Passengers can press that button if a pilot has a medical emergency - it's reachable by anyone in the plane.
- Business Insider had the chance to test the Safe Return feature during a demonstration. Now I can say that I successfully landed an airplane.
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I landed an airplane recently.
I'm not a pilot. And I've never taken a flying lesson. In fact, I'd never before touched an active control on an airplane. But landing this particular plane was easy.The Cirrus Vision Jet is already the most accessible private jet in the world. A new plane costs around $2 million, about half as much as its closest rivals, and it was the most delivered business jet of 2018. With a single engine, composite body, and just one pilot needed to fly it, it's a powerful aircraft with a 1,150-mile range
A new feature unveiled last week makes the plane even more appealing: an emergency automatic-landing system.
The Safe Return Emergency Autoland System, designed by Garmin, can land the plane with just the push of a big red button, reachable by any passenger.
When activated, the system automatically takes control of the plane, determines the nearest and best suitable airport, plots a flight path around weather, buildings, and terrain, notifies air-traffic control, flies the plane to the chosen runway while avoiding other aircraft, and gently brings the plane down to the ground, coming to a stop at the end of the runway, where emergency services will wait.
This isn't quite the first automatic landing feature, but what makes it revolutionary is that it can take complete and total control of the flight from the moment it's activated. Other systems on commercial planes rely on continuous input from pilots like a traditional autopilot system. But this is unique in that a passenger can activate it, and zero pilot input is needed.
Late this summer, I took a demonstration flight with Cirrus to test the new autoland system.We pretended the pilot was incapacitated, I pushed the button, and that was the last time anyone touched the plane's controls until we had come to a stop on the runway.
It was an incredibly impressive thing to see in action. Keep reading to see how it went.