Can Aircraft Land by Themselves?

From directional control to changes in altitude, an aircraft autopilot system can control many aspects of the flight, aiding the pilot when necessary, as well as making the trek smooth and efficient. Some may be surprised to know that aircraft can even control and execute a landing, though it is very uncommon. Less than 1 in 100 commercial airliner flights are ever landed through autopilot, and it is often reserved for times where visibility is extremely poor. Nevertheless, it is something that many planes are capable of doing, and it can be a very smooth and safe operation due to the expertise of pilots. In this article, we will discuss how autopilot is able to conduct landings by itself.

When the pilot approaches the airport for a standard landing, autopilot is often used as far as when the plane is a few miles from the landing strip and it becomes visible. From then, pilots disable autopilot and execute the landing themselves, ensuring that they are able to accommodate for any change or traffic that an autopilot system cannot adapt to. Sometimes, however, when there is a storm or heavy fog, visibility may be so short as to make manual landing extremely unsafe, or even impossible.

When an aircraft readies for autopilot landing, multiple controls and equipment have to be set. As the aircraft approaches the landing strip, pilots are attentive for any possible red flag or problem so that they may take immediate control. To ensure safe landings through autopilot, pilots have to undergo training every six months. Some of this training involves pilots going through simulations that put them through any possible problem to train them how to successfully navigate through them. Because of this, pilots are always at the ready to respond to anything during their landing.


September 21, 2022

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