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Fully Automated Taxiing

Sun Feb 28, 2010 1:34 pm

Would it be conceivable to implement full computer automation (with active human supervision) of taxiing at major airports? The software part should not be hyper-complex as one is dealing with slow-moving vehicles. The hardware part may be a little more intricate but can perhaps take inputs from each aircraft's GPS/TCAS as well as the airport surface radar; an automatic link to the auto-throttle and steering mechanism will also be necessary (the A380 already has the latter I believe for its pre-selected runway exit clearance capability).

The major advantages I see for such a set-up would include the avoidance of:

- Runway incursions;
- Lost aircraft;
- Taxiway T/O's;
- Ground collisions between aircraft;
- Aircraft edging off the paved surface onto the grass; and
- ATC marshaling errors and flight crew taxiing excursions.

Other advantages would include the optimal streamlining of taxi traffic at airports with heavy peak movements like JFK (leading to more efficient use of slots and runways) and full fail-safe operation: if there is a snag with the system, you switch it off and everyone taxis manually till it's fixed. It would also reduce flight crew workload and enable them to concentrate on more critical tasks. Potentially and in the long-term, you may also have the necessary infrastructure to implement full CAT IIIC operations in reduced visibility conditions.

The disadvantage is cost of course, as well as regulatory approval but that should not be too much of an issue since the system would be fully fail-safe.

Any thoughts?

The chalice not my son

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