Garmin recently unveiled a new technology for their G3000 General Aviation avionics system, the Garmin Autoland. They claim it can safely and fully autonomously land the aircraft in case of pilot incapacitation.

Traditional autoland systems found on airliners use Cat. II or III Instrument Landing System (ILS) approaches to guide the aircraft onto the runway (and keep it on the centerline afterwards). But according to this article Garmin will not use ILS, but rely on GPS approaches only:

[t]he 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.

Can GPS alone provide accurate enough guidance all the way to the runway including the flare? Usually RNAV approaches have higher LPV minima than even a Cat. I ILS.

As far as I know, the autopilot also cannot control systems like the landing gear, the flaps and the brakes, but all are needed for a fully autonomous landing. How does the Garmin system handle this?

  • $\begingroup$ The accuracy of GPS is better than required, but availability and the need for augmentation is critical. Garmin says "Autoland will soon be available on select G3000® system equipped aircraft: Piper M600 SLS and Cirrus Vision Jet", both model year 2020. These aircraft will have to expose the required controls to a communication bus. $\endgroup$ – bogl Nov 15 '19 at 12:42
  • $\begingroup$ LPV minima are often the same (200ft AGL) as ILS Cat I. Also, GPS (with or without augmentation) is usually ten times as accurate as the specification requires. "Usually" isn't good enough for routine use, but in an emergency, anything goes. $\endgroup$ – StephenS Nov 15 '19 at 15:00
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    $\begingroup$ IANAP. I think that if I were flying with a friend and said friend became incapacitated, neither he nor I would care if the plane flared nicely and executed a greaser landing. If the autoland can get the plane on the ground well enough for me to walk away and him to be easily extricated and carted off in an ambulance, it's more than done its job. I sure wouldn't want the aircraft to be a write-off, but the computer's probably going to do a better job of landing it based solely on GPS than I would! $\endgroup$ – FreeMan Nov 15 '19 at 18:50

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