Duluth-based Cirrus Aircraft now has a private jet that can land itself in the case of an emergency.
Using new technology from Garmin, Cirrus' Vision Jets will turn into autonomous vehicles that land themselves — when passengers press one button. This makes Cirrus' jet one of the first general aircrafts with auto-land tech, according to a Wednesday news release from the company.
The dedicated button is located in the jet's cabin. When activated, the Safe Return tech takes control of the aircraft; analyzes terrain, weather and fuel levels; navigates to the nearest suitable airport for landing; communicates with its traffic control; lands; and then fully stops the aircraft — all without human help.
Throughout the landing, the system will communicate the flight path and estimated time until landing to passengers.
But, if a passenger inadvertently activates the system, pilots can deactivate it via another button, according to Cirrus.
The plane's system will also activate the auto-land tech if it detects it is necessary, according to Garmin.
“Our mission is to make personal aviation more accessible by continuing to improve passenger comfort and safety,” Zean Nielsen, Cirrus CEO, said in the news release. “Safe Return delivers the next step towards autonomous flight, bringing a new level of confidence to the overall flying experience by providing the ultimate level of safety and control to passengers.
Piper Aircraft made a similar announcement Wednesday, saying its new aircraft will be the first general aviation aircraft to have certified auto-land abilities. The next generation of its M Series aircraft will also include the same technology from Garmin, according to a news release from Piper.
Garmin CEO and President Cliff Pemble called the tech "one of the industry's most significant innovations."
Because it's intended to be used in emergencies, all three companies say the tech will save lives.