Garmin’s HomeSafe system tremendous advance
EMERGENCY: selects airport, path, communicates and lands
Garmin had cyber attack
Within days of each other, Garmin announced (1) the certification of its HomeSafe system, which can land the airplane when the pilot(s) cannot fly and (2) its flyGarmin.com had been attacked by ransomware. The systems are not necessarily linked, but these concurrent raise the visibility of aircraft systems to hacking.
the FAA and EASA tried to clarify their agencies’ current and upcoming avionics mandates to provide aircraft with the resilience needed to withstand cyber-attacks.
The FAA has published Special Conditions (SCs) for transport aircraft systems and information security protection (ASISP) since the first e-enabled aircraft. Perhaps such an SC was issued for Home Safe system which is being installed on Part 23 aircraft.The vulnerability of GA aircraft to such third party interdiction has been highlighted already, but does the potential to use computer connectivity to reach an automated landing system merits greater attention? The Department of Homeland Security is studying countermeasures to cybersecurity threats. The FAA has published Special Conditions (SCs) for transport aircraft systems and information security protection (ASISP) since the first e-enabled aircraft. Perhaps such an SC was issued for Home Safe system which is being installed on Part 23 aircraft.
Safety tool takes its place on the latest turboprop.
French aircraft maker Daher says new TBM 940s rolling off the assembly line in Tarbes, France, will now be equipped with the HomeSafe system, which allows the aircraft to automatically locate a suitable airport and conduct an instrument approach to a safe landing should the pilot become incapacitated. The new HomeSafe system—that simultaneously received both FAA and EASA certification last week—is an iteration of Garmin’s Autoland emergency landing system. The company says new 940s already delivered this year will be upgraded at TBM service centers. HomeSafe is also available as a retrofit to earlier 940 aircraft at a cost of $85,000.
Daher says, “The system is activated manually by an easily recognizable orange button atop the cockpit instrument panel, or semi-automatically if the Emergency Descent Mode has been engaged.
The [HomeSafe] software integrates weather and terrain information to select the best airport for landing taking into account aircraft fuel range and runway length. During the landing rollout, HomeSafe will simultaneously activate the landing gear and brakes and shut down the engine.”
The company had addressed most of the connectivity outages by July 27.
Garmin suffered a ransomware attack that encrypted some of its systems on July 23, 2020. Garmin Connext Service—and connectivity through flyGarmin.com and the Garmin Pilot app—were among those areas affected, though the SOS and inReach systems remained online and available.
In an update from the company posted on July 27, Garmin announced, “[Many] of our online services were interrupted including website functions, customer support, customer facing applications, and company communications. We immediately began to assess the nature of the attack and started remediation. We have no indication that any customer data, including payment information from Garmin Pay, was accessed, lost or stolen. Additionally, the functionality of Garmin products was not affected, other than the ability to access online services.” Company email and some customer service functions were also affected, with services restored on July 27 as well.
Pilots who use flyGarmin were unable to download up-to-date aviation databases, which aviation regulators such as the FAA require pilots to have, before they can fly.
A short and sweet overview of the emergency system that will pick an airport and land your plane for you.
Early this morning, October 30, 2019, Garmin, Piper and Cirrus officially introduced Autoland, a safety utility that will land your plane for you. I flew a Piper M600 with the system in it more than a month ago at Garmin’s Olathe, Kansas, flight test center, and I was blown away by it. And make no mistake: This system will change everything. Here’s why.
The system is part of Garmin’s suite of safety utilities, two of which, Emergency Descent Mode and ESP envelope protection, we already know about and are on thousands of planes. This third leg, which Garmin calls Autoland, adds automatic landing to that suite, which overall is called Autonomi. And let’s not fool ourselves. Autonomi will be getting more features. We just don’t know what they are yet, though the speculation will surely begin today.
Autoland is remarkable. And before I start describing its features, start this reading by forgetting everything you thought was true was about Autoland. This system is far, far more capable than any autoland features in even the most sophisticated airliners. I have flown an autoland sequence in a Boeing 777 Level D simulator, and that technology is positively prehistoric compared to Garmin’s version. This is the future.
A few things:
- Autoland is an emergency-only utility. You can’t use it in a non-emergency. It actually calls ATC if you activate it and declares an emergency for you.
- It’s not just “Autoland.” It also automatically detects pilot incapacitation, automatically chooses the best airport to land at, configures the plane for landing, including flaps, gear and thrust, and it stops the plane on the runway and shuts off the engine.
- To do all of the above, Autoland needs to have factory installed (for now, factory installed) hardware that includes autopilot (obviously), autothrottle, radar altimeter, and brake by wire. It’s about as far from a mere software upgrade as imaginable (though that is a part of it, too).
- The system is designed to go into a automatic landing mode that changes the way all of the flight instruments are displayed and communicates directly with the passengers in messages and graphics that non-pilots can understand. The assumption is, the pilot is incapacitated, and the passengers will be extremely concerned. Autoland answers all of their questions and prepares them for landing and a quick deplaning.
In my flight with Autoland I experienced in a Piper M600 the complete sequence of the system (with the exception of engine shutdown). The system picked an airport to land at, conveniently the one we’d just departed from, configured the plane for landing and put it down on the center stripe, getting it stopped in minimal distance with only a slight deviation from the centerline.
Autoland is very close to certification on the Piper M600 and Cirrus SF-50 Vision Jet and at least one other aircraft from another manufacturer we are not at liberty to name yet.
Look for our full story on Autoland in the January issue of Plane & Pilot.
Other technical descriptions of AUTOLAND:
“…Sargent explained that Autoland is designed only for emergency use and not for pilots to use just because the weather is marginal or crosswinds too high or to prevent, say, a runway overrun for a pilot who isn’t confident about accomplishing a safe landing. The idea is “bad pilot, good airplane,” in other words, the pilot is no longer able to fly but the airplane is still operating normally and there is no other qualified pilot on board.
“I thought of my grandmother,” said Bailey Scheel, Garmin senior aviation programs engineer and manager. Although her grandmother has done pinch-hitter courses that teach non-pilots how to land in case the pilot has a medical issue, a safe outcome isn’t guaranteed. She added, “[Autoland] is more for her and her comfort.”
Another way to look at Autoland is that it gives aircraft manufacturers an alternative to a parachute-type rescue system for situations where the pilot is incapacitated and the airplane is still operating and given proper guidance, could land on a suitable runway. For Cirrus, Autoland adds the option of getting the airplane to a nearby airport where medical assistance may be more readily available, as opposed to deploying the parachute system over a remote area and hoping rescuers arrive in time.”
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