Piper Aircraft's newest flagship, the Piper M600/SLS, has received type certification from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for its new HALO safety system, making it the first Garmin Autoland equipped aircraft in the world to receive certification. Deliveries begin immediately.
“We are delighted to announce the certification of the M600/SLS with the HALO safety system by the FAA,” says Simon Caldecott, Piper Aircraft president and CEO. “This is the first aircraft to be certified with one of the most significant advancements in general aviation history. As a company that has always held safety at the forefront of our culture, we are proud to be first to market with Autoland. Additionally, it is our great honor to pave the way for others to follow with this new technology.”
”The FAA certification of Autoland is a day of celebration for the entire aviation industry as we redefine the expectations of not only the pilot, but more importantly the passenger, and what should be standard equipment on general aviation aircraft," adds Phil Straub, Garmin executive vice president and managing director of aviation. "Our congratulations to Piper for certifying this safety enhancing technology on the M600 and delivering one of the industry's most significant innovations to our respective customers."
The HALO safety system with Garmin Autoland is standard equipment on all M600/SLS aircraft. The safety system includes a compilation of innovative technologies unique to the M600 SLS and the Garmin G3000 avionics suite. The system includes Auto-throttle, Emergency Descent Mode, Electronic Stability and Protection, Surface Watch, Safe Taxi, Flight Stream connectivity and more. However, of greatest significance is the addition of Garmin Autoland, digital technology that safely lands the aircraft at the nearest suitable airport in the event that the pilot is incapacitated. The M600/SLS is available for purchase now through the Piper dealer network.
The FAA has also certified and availability of the Garmin Autoland system in the G3000 integrated flight deck in the Piper M600. In the event of an emergency, Autoland will control and land the aircraft without human intervention. The Garmin Autoland system is also featured on the Cirrus Vision Jet and Daher TBM 940 and will soon be available on these aircraft, with additional aircraft approvals to follow.
“What started as a vision to develop the world's first Autoland system for general aviation, became a reality today as we deliver one of the industry's most significant innovations,” says Straub. “Congratulations to the entire Garmin team who contributed to the development and certification of Autoland, one of the industry's most forward- thinking technologies that will forever enhance aviation safety and save lives.”
In the event of an emergency, the pilot or passengers on board the aircraft can activate Autoland to land the aircraft with a simple press of a dedicated button. Autoland can also activate automatically if the system determines it's necessary. Once activated, the system calculates a flight plan to the most suitable airport, while avoiding terrain and adverse weather, initiates an approach to the runway and automatically lands the aircraft without pilot or passenger intervention.
Autoland takes into account a breadth of information and criteria during an activation, including a wide range of performance, operational and environmental factors. The availability of a GPS approach with lateral and vertical guidance to the runway is also required when the system is considering various airports and runways. Even further, the system will automatically communicate with air traffic control (ATC), advising controllers and pilots operating near the aircraft of its location and its intentions.
Throughout an Autoland activation, the G3000 integrated flight deck provides passenger-centric visual and verbal communications in plain-language so passengers in the aircraft know what to expect. The flight displays show the aircraft's location on a map alongside information such as the destination airport, estimated time of arrival, distance to the destination airport and fuel remaining. Airspeed, altitude and aircraft heading are also labelled in an easy-to-understand format. Passengers also have the option to communicate with ATC by following simple instructions on the display using the touchscreen interface on the flight deck.
The Garmin Autothrottle system is used to automatically manage aircraft speed, engine performance and engine power so the aircraft can climb, descend or maintain altitude as needed during an Autoland activation. On approach to land, the system initiates a controlled descent to the airport. If the aircraft needs additional time to descend or slow down during the approach, the Autoland system initiates a standard holding procedure. When aligned with the runway, the landing gear and flaps are automatically extended and the aircraft continues its descent. On the runway, automatic braking is applied while tracking the runway centreline to bring the aircraft to a full stop. Engine shutdown is also automated so occupants can safely exit the aircraft.
At any time, a pilot can easily deactivate an Autoland activation. With a single press of the “AP” autopilot key on the autopilot controller or the autopilot disconnect button on the controls, an Autoland activation can be cancelled. The flight display shows a message that confirms Autoland has been deactivated and in the event of an accidental deactivation, the system shows passengers how to reactivate Autoland if needed.
Garmin Autonomí, a family of autonomous safety solutions, encompasses Autoland, Emergency Descent Mode (EDM) and Electronic Stability and Protection (ESP). These technologies add to the safety enhancing tools and capabilities of a Garmin-equipped flight deck. For example, in the event an aircraft loses pressurisation, EDM is capable of automatically descending the aircraft to a preset altitude without pilot intervention to help avert hypoxic situations.
ESP further enhances the Autonomí suite by working to assist the pilot in avoiding unintentional flight attitudes beyond that for normal flight. ESP works in the background while the pilot is hand flying the aircraft to help pilots avoid inadvertent flight attitudes or bank angles. Should the pilot become inattentive while hand flying the aircraft and exceed pre-determined pitch, roll or airspeed limitations, Garmin ESP activates and the pilot will feel pressure on the flight controls that guide him/her back to a recommended flight limit.
Garden City airport in Garden City, Kansas played a key role in the certification flight test for the M600/SLS HALO safety system's Garmin Autoland feature. The airport was selected in 2019 as the ideal location for a live activation of the autonomous landing system given its location and proximity to other airports.
"The Garden City airport provided us with the optimal location for our certification flight test. We were delighted that the airport agreed to collaborate with us and support this historic event," says Eric Wright, Piper Aircraft senior director of aircraft certification and compliance. "Airports like Garden City are the cornerstone of the general aviation community, which do an outstanding job supporting our industry. It has been our great pleasure to help highlight the role that Garden City has played in the advancement of technology for general aviation."
Both the FAA and Piper Aircraft worked together with the Garden City Airport to perform the live test of the revolutionary Garmin Autoland System. On May 5, 2020, the team launched from Vero Beach, Florida with a planned stop in Tulsa, Oklahoma before proceeding to Garden City for the certification flight test. The M600 SLS HALO system performed as designed and completed a successful test with the FAA on board, paving the way for Piper Aircraft to be the first OEM to achieve certification of any autoland system in a general aviation aircraft. Piper M600SLS aircraft with autoland capability begin deliveries immediately.
"Last week's successful certification flight highlights the importance of regional airports and reminds us that airports, such as Garden City, not only have an intrinsic value to the local economy but also play a key role in general aviation throughout the country," says Rachelle Powell, aviation director at Garden City Airport.