1992-10-01

The Autonomous Airplane Concept 921918

Today we have approximately 250 Flight Management Systems (FMS) equipped airplanes operating in the United States and an additional 250 worldwide. This represents approximately 100 million dollars (minimum) in purchased technology. Knowledgeable sources estimate that we are using this technology at a 30% efficiency level. I believe that we have a plan for gaining much of the additional 70% capability of these systems and that by moving forward with this plan we can achieve a degree of autonomy that will broaden the horizon of commercial air transportation. By advancing the technology and utilization of flight management systems, we can greatly reduce our dependence on ground-based systems.
By way of an overview, we will first define what goes into a candidate flight management system. Then, in order to better understand FMS capabilities we will cover the background associated with development and certification of current production flight management systems. An important item in that regard is the current effort underway in the United States, in cooperation with the FAA, to develop procedures and applications for FMS that will improve safety and efficiency in the national airspace system. Finally, no program would be complete without a look at the future. I will cover the goals that we should be considering as we develop applications for advanced flight management systems.

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