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Garmin, Cirrus, And Piper Release Emergency Autoland System For Passengers

The pilot of a single-engine airplane losing consciousness is a worst-nightmare for passengers. However, a new system was just announced that may change all of that...


A Passenger's Worst Nightmare And A "Miracle" Landing

As pilots, it's always our primary mission to keep our passengers safe. But what happens when something goes wrong and you're unable to continue flying? In the general aviation world, this is a dark reality in a single-pilot environment. In 2012, 81-year-old John Collins collapsed unconscious at the controls of his Cessna 414 and left his 80-year-old wife Helen Collins alone over the skies of Wisconsin. With just a few hours of flight experience many years ago, Helen was not capable of landing the aircraft without some serious help.

After dialing 911, she was able to make contact with a dispatcher who alerted the FAA. She was able to make contact with the Cherryland Airport, who sent up pilot Robert Vuksanovic to give her mid-air flight instruction. His wife, Cathy Vuksanovic, an experienced flight instructor, communicated with Helen from the ground too. After around 90 minutes, the couple was able to guide Helen safely to the ground just as her right engine ran out of fuel.

It's truly an amazing story and reveals the need for a system never available... That is, until today.

Cirrus Introduces "Safe Return" For The Vision Jet

"Safe Return (TM) is a revolutionary emergency autoland system that enables passengers to land the Vision Jet with just the touch of a single button. Once activated when available, Safe Return assumes control of the aircraft and transforms the Vision Jet into an autonomous vehicle that navigates to the nearest suitable airport for landing, communicates with air traffic control, lands and brings the aircraft safely to a complete stop." The system was designed and certified by Cirrus and Garmin using the Perspective Touch+ flight deck.

According to Cirrus, once pressed, the autonomous system analyzes terrain and datalink weather to determine the optimal airport for landing and simultaneously begins communication with Air Traffic Control (ATC). Autothrottles and the autopilot system configure the airplane for landing and shut down the engine once on the ground. Plus, it can be easily disengaged by the pilot with a simple press of the Autopilot disconnect button on the yoke if a passenger inadvertently activates the system. Here's how it works...

One of the most impressive features is the ability of the airplane to constantly communicate automatically with ATC. "Safe Return immediately transmits an emergency message to ATC. Using text and speech technology, the system communicates the aircraft's intentions over the appropriate ATC frequency, the 121.5 emergency voice frequency, and also switches to the universal emergency transponder code. ATC is automatically updated at regular intervals of the aircraft's location, emergency situation and intended airport landing location. These communications begin the process of activating emergency services at the airport of intended landing to assist the passenger and pilot upon arrival."

Piper Introduces "HALO" For The M600 SLS

The HALO System will be the first emergency autoland system for a general aviation turboprop airplane. It uses the Garmin G3000 cockpit just like the Cirrus Safe Return system to analyze all flight parameters to automatically descend and configure for landing.

Here's how it works...

What Do You Think?

Garmin, Cirrus, and Piper have done an outstanding job innovating the future of general aviation. What do you think? Tell us in the comments below.

Swayne Martin

Swayne is an editor at Boldmethod, certified flight instructor, and an Embraer 145 First Officer for a regional airline. He graduated as an aviation major from the University of North Dakota in 2018, holds a PIC Type Rating for Cessna Citation Jets (CE-525), and is a former pilot for Mokulele Airlines. He's the author of articles, quizzes and lists on Boldmethod every week. You can reach Swayne at, and follow his flying adventures on his YouTube Channel.

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