Boeing Honeywell Uninterruptible Autopilot

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The Boeing Uninterruptible Autopilot is a system designed to take control of a commercial aircraft away from the pilot or flight crew in the event of a hijacking.[1] If implemented, the system would allow the craft to automatically guide itself to a landing at a designated airstrip.[2] The "uninterruptible" autopilot would be activated either by pilots, by onboard sensors, or remotely via radio or satellite links by government agencies, if terrorists attempt to gain control of a flight deck.[2]

Both Boeing and Honeywell have contributed significantly to the introduction of digital autopilot technology into the civil aviation sector.[3] A patent for the system was awarded to Boeing in 2006.[4] Honeywell has also been developing a system with Airbus, and a prototype has been tested on small aircraft.[5]

In 2013, a 16-seater Jetstream airliner became the first passenger plane to fly unmanned across UK civilian airspace. However, Britain's Civil Aviation Authority says there is no remote control system currently available that could cope with navigating the country's crowded skies. According to a spokesman, "There are companies working on it, but the technology doesn't exist in a practical or usable form yet".[6]

There have been claims that the technology has been secretly fitted to some commercial airliners. Some have blamed it for the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, whose cause is unknown as of 2018.[7][8][9] According to Bob Mann, an airline industry consultant, there is no evidence that the Boeing Uninterruptible Autopilot has ever been used in a commercial airliner.[10] Safety concerns, including the possibility that such a system could be hacked, have prevented its roll-out. [11]


  1. ^ "New autopilot will make another 9/11 impossible". The Daily Mail. 2007-03-03. Retrieved 19 July 2014.
  2. ^ a b Reed Business Information Limited. "Diagrams: Boeing patents anti-terrorism auto-land system for hijacked airliners".
  3. ^ "The Evolution of Flight Management". Honeywell Aerospace. Honeywell International. Retrieved 21 July 2014.
  4. ^ "Boeing wins patent on uninterruptible autopilot system". 4 December 2006. Retrieved 15 June 2014.
  5. ^ "Flying Safety Put on Auto-Pilot". Wired News. Wired News. 2003-08-12. Retrieved 19 July 2014.
  6. ^ "Why can't airlines seize control of doomed jets from the ground?". Mail Online.
  7. ^ "MH370: Four conspiracy theories that almost got away with it - Features - The Star Online".
  8. ^ "CIA withholding information on flight MH370, says former Malaysian PM Mahathir Mohamad". The Sydney Morning Herald.
  9. ^ Barbara Tasch. "Malaysia Airlines Flight 370: Former Leader Says CIA in MH370 Cover Up".
  10. ^ Jonathan Marino. "This is the biggest factor keeping planes from fully flying themselves". Business Insider Australia.
  11. ^ "Germanwings: Crash leaves many unanswered questions". BBC News.