Boeing Honeywell Uninterruptible Autopilot

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

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]