The National Aeronautic Association is bestowing one of its highest recognitions, the 2020 Robert J. Collier Trophy, upon Garmin for Autoland. The first certified autonomous system of its kind, Autoland was selected over a competitive field of nominees that also included the Bell V-280 Valor, SpaceX Falcon 9 and Dragon 2, Boeing Confident Travel Initiative, Reliable Robotics Remotely Operated Aircraft System (ROAS), U.S. Air Force Green Propellant Infusion Mission Team, and Yates Electrospace’s Silent Arrow.
Considered a benchmark in aerospace advancement, the NAA annually presents the Collier Trophy in recognition of “the greatest achievement in aeronautics or astronautics in America, with respect to improving performance, efficiency, safety in air or space vehicles, the value of which has been thoroughly demonstrated by actual use during the preceding year.”
“The Garmin Autoland system marks a significant improvement in civil aviation,” said NAA Chairman Jim Albaugh. “Its ability to take over an airplane with a disabled pilot and land it safely will save many lives in the future. It’s a remarkable technical achievement and clearly merits the Collier Trophy.”
Part of Garmin’s Autonomi family of autonomous safety technologies, Autoland can either activate automatically or with a press of a dedicated button in case of an emergency such as pilot incapacitation. The system then will calculate a flight path to the most suitable airport and, avoiding terrain and adverse weather, will initiate a stabilized approach and land the aircraft.
“Autoland began as a simple exploration to develop automation technology for general aviation aircraft,” said Garmin president and CEO Cliff Pemble. “This exploration resulted in the first automated system that can safely fly and land an aircraft in an emergency without human intervention."
Three aircraft were certified in 2020 with Garmin Autoland: the Piper M600 SLS in May 2020; the Daher TBM 940 in July 2020; and the Cirrus Vision Jet, the first jet aircraft to win such approval, in August 2020.