An automated emergency landing system for fixed-wing aircraft: Planning and control

Warren, Michael, Mejias, Luis, Kok, Jonathan, Yang, Xilin, Gonzalez, Luis F., & Upcroft, Ben (2015) An automated emergency landing system for fixed-wing aircraft: Planning and control. Journal of Field Robotics, 32(8), pp. 1114-1140.

View at publisher


A number of hurdles must be overcome in order to integrate unmanned aircraft into civilian airspace for routine operations. The ability of the aircraft to land safely in an emergency is essential to reduce the risk to people, infrastructure and aircraft. To date, few field-demonstrated systems have been presented that show online re-planning and repeatability from failure to touchdown. This paper presents the development of the Guidance, Navigation and Control (GNC) component of an Automated Emergency Landing System (AELS) intended to address this gap, suited to a variety of fixed-wing aircraft. Field-tested on both a fixed-wing UAV and Cessna 172R during repeated emergency landing experiments, a trochoid-based path planner computes feasible trajectories and a simplified control system executes the required manoeuvres to guide the aircraft towards touchdown on a predefined landing site. This is achieved in zero-thrust conditions with engine forced to idle to simulate failure. During an autonomous landing, the controller uses airspeed, inertial and GPS data to track motion and maintains essential flight parameters to guarantee flyability, while the planner monitors glide ratio and re-plans to ensure approach at correct altitude. Simulations show reliability of the system in a variety of wind conditions and its repeated ability to land within the boundary of a predefined landing site. Results from field-tests for the two aircraft demonstrate the effectiveness of the proposed GNC system in live operation. Results show that the system is capable of guiding the aircraft to close proximity of a predefined keyhole in nearly 100% of cases.

Impact and interest:

0 citations in Scopus
Search Google Scholar™

Citation counts are sourced monthly from Scopus and Web of Science® citation databases.

These databases contain citations from different subsets of available publications and different time periods and thus the citation count from each is usually different. Some works are not in either database and no count is displayed. Scopus includes citations from articles published in 1996 onwards, and Web of Science® generally from 1980 onwards.

Citations counts from the Google Scholar™ indexing service can be viewed at the linked Google Scholar™ search.

Full-text downloads:

12 since deposited on 02 Nov 2015
12 in the past twelve months

Full-text downloads displays the total number of times this work’s files (e.g., a PDF) have been downloaded from QUT ePrints as well as the number of downloads in the previous 365 days. The count includes downloads for all files if a work has more than one.

ID Code: 89744
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
DOI: 10.1002/rob.21641
ISSN: 1556-4967
Divisions: Current > Research Centres > Australian Research Centre for Aerospace Automation
Current > Schools > School of Electrical Engineering & Computer Science
Current > Institutes > Institute for Future Environments
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Science & Engineering Faculty
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2015 ACM
Deposited On: 02 Nov 2015 23:47
Last Modified: 16 May 2016 08:09

Export: EndNote | Dublin Core | BibTeX

Repository Staff Only: item control page