If you are like me you may have through that aircraft that automated flight systems or decades. We always hear about autopilot systems but a company called Aurora Flight Sciences is breaking ground with automated flight with its aircrew Labor In-cockpit Automation System or ALIAS. So far as we can tell, Jennifer Garner isn’t involved with the project.
On October 17, Aurora demonstrated the flight capabilities of its ALIAS system allowing it to fly a Cessna Caravan through basic flight maneuvers under the supervision of a human pilot. This demonstration inside the Cessna marks the third aircraft type that the system has been demonstrated on in twelve months.
ALIAS was developed under contract with DARPA and is a robotic system that is designed to function as a second pilot in a dual crew aircraft. The idea is to reduce the aircrew workload so that performance is maintained and the mission comes off without a hitch. The first phase of testing saw the ALIAS system operating on a simulator and in a Diamond DA-42 aircraft during flight. Phase two was installation of the system in the Cessna Caravan.
The third phase of testing will see ALIAS installed in a Bell UH-1 helicopter and that phase of testing is underway. DARPA says the goal for ALIAS is to make “a tailorable, drop-in, removable kit that would promote the addition of high levels of automation into existing aircraft, enabling operation with reduced onboard crew.”
“Demonstrating our automation system on the UH-1 and the Caravan will prove the viability of our system for both military and commercial applications,” said John Wissler, Aurora’s Vice President of Research and Development. “ALIAS enables the pilot to turn over core flight functions and direct their attention to non-flight related issues such as adverse weather, potential threats or even updating logistical plans.”
Aurora is working on a product based on ALIAS that can be used in military and commercial flights.