First Hands-Free Takeoff of Airbus Jet Is Successful

Moving towards pilotless planes, Airbus recently coordinated automated takeoffs from one of its planes.
Fabienne Lang
The Airbus jet that took off without a pilot at the yoke.Airbus

While you're just about getting your head around driverless cars, now it's time to get on board with pilotless planes. 

Airbus recently shared the images and the story of their first successfully completed automated takeoff. That means a plane took off without any pilot's assistance. Yikes.

The A350-1000 in question went through its automated testing at the Toulouse-Blagnac Airport in France on December 18. 


Pilotless planes

Airbus' vision of having pilotless commercial jet flights is one step closer to fruition. Last month's successful attempt at a hands-free takeoff moved them nearer to their goal. 

During the tests two pilots sat in the cockpit, at the ready to take over the controls should anything go awry. 

First Hands-Free Takeoff of Airbus Jet Is Successful
The two pilots in the cockpit (left) not touching the controls as the plane (right) takes off, Source: Airbus

One of the test-pilots, Captain Yann Beaufils, said "We moved the throttle levers to the take-off setting and we monitored the aircraft. It started to move and accelerate automatically maintaining the runway centerline, at the exact rotation speed as entered in the system. The nose of the aircraft began to lift up automatically to take the expected take-off pitch value and a few seconds later we were airborne."

Airbus explained that this technology is different from the Instrument Landing System (ILS) which is already used on planes around the world. The automated takeoff control instead used image recognition technology directly installed onto the aircraft. 

The future of Airbus

This marks a significant moment for the European planemaker as they push forward with their Autonomous Taxi, Take-Off, and Landing (ATTOL) project. 

With fewer pilots joining the ranks and with certain airline companies looking to curb their costs, this automation could prove handy. 

Perhaps the bigger hurdle to jump over will be convincing the public to get onto a hands-free, fully-automated flight.

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