MIAMI – After a two-year extensive flight test program, Airbus has today announced that it has concluded its Autonomous Taxi, Take-Off and Landing (ATTOL) project. 

Over the last two years, the Airbus A350-1000 testbed aircraft has logged for more than 500 test flights, with around 450 of those flights being dedicated to gathering raw video data, to help support and fine-tune ATTOL algorithms. 

In addition to the 450 raw data collection flights, Airbus conducted a series of six test flights, each one including five take-offs and landings per run, which helps the manufacturer test the autonomous flight capabilities.

ATTOL – Airbus test pilots conduct Automated Take Off

From Aircraft Operations to Strategic Decision-making

The ATTOL project was initiated by Airbus to explore the possibilities of how autonomous technologies.

These possibilities include the use of machine learning algorithms and automated tools for data labeling, processing, and model generation, which could be used in the future to help pilots focus less on aircraft operations and more on the strategic decision-making and mission management process.

An automated Future

This development is part of a larger-scope program that Airbus is working on, the European Manufacturer announced during its Innovations Days in May 2019.

At the event, Airbus announced apart from its ATTOL project, more automated processing formats, including everything from building the planes to assembly them now being done with robot assistance, something which will continue to improve safety standards across its entire fleet and global network.

Airbus A350-100 ATTOL test-bed Aircraft

Airbus said in their press release, “now, we are able to analyze the potential of these technologies for enhancing future aircraft operations, all the while improving aircraft safety, ensuring today’s unprecedented levels are maintained.”

With this new technology now showing signs of physical application uses, Airbus will use this data to continues research into the application of autonomous technologies and connectivity. 

Part of these new technologies will include the development of more efficient and advanced aircraft materials as well as more tools to assist pilots in ensuring that planes are safer than ever.

Eastern Airlines Captain Mark Brown and First Officer Tyler Wilds

A new breed of Pilots, if any

With Airbus showing us that this technology is ready to be developed, the question is how much longer until we do not see two pilots or any Pilots, for that matter, in the cockpit of planes.

In addition, these types of autonomous technologies will now mean that the aviation industry must look at the training of the next generation of Pilots and to make the necessary changes that will allow them to greater understand the challenges of modern-day flying.