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QinetIQ First Automatic Shipboard Landing Of STOVL Craft

QinetIQ experimental VAAC craft with 'Autoland' technology succeeded in the first fully automatic landing of a short take-off vertical landing (STOVL) aircraft on a ship. The program was funded by the US Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) programme and the UK MOD Joint Combat Aircraft Integrated Project Team (JCA IPT).


(From QinetIQ VAAC Harrier's First Shipboard Landing)

The experimental plane, a vector-thrust Aircraft Advanced Control Harrier, was developed by QinetIQ. The ability to land automatically on a ship was demonstrated on the HMS Invincible. This will extend the ability of pilots to conduct missions under day or night conditions that previously would not have been possible. The Autoland feature greatly reduces the workload of pilots at the end of a mission.


(Star Trek crew enroute to Enterprise on fully automated shuttle)

Fully-automated flight and landing have long been a part of science fiction. The automated shuttle shown above is fully capable of automated landings on other ships.

I was surprised to learn that the first fully automated aircraft landings were accomplished in 1937. The first automatic landings of a VSTOL craft were made in April of 2003 at the Patuxent River Naval Air Station.

Read more about how QinetiQ achieves world's first automatic landing of a STOVL aircraft onto a ship; find out more about the first automated VSTOL landing. Thanks to 'Icecycle' (yet another alert reader) for the tip on the story. Oh, and if you like the Harrier jet, you might like the (science-fictional) High Kavalaan Aircar.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 5/26/2005)

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