A new landing assistance system for safer, quieter and more energy-efficient landing has been tested by a group of German pilots.
The smart system, developed by researchers from the German Aerospace Centre, allows saving up to 11 kilograms of fuel per descent and considerably reduce noise levels. In fact, the pilots testing the system on a simulator, were able to perform a more precise approach and completely avoid using speed-brakes – a major source of aircraft noise, which in most cases cannot be avoided using currently existing technology.
The pilots performed several simulated descents to the Frankfurt Airport while the system was advising them about the best timing to perform tasks related to the landing sequence, such as adjusting speed, deploying the flaps or the undercarriage. The system, feeding information to the pilots through a large display inside the cockpit, uses real time data about external conditions such as wind-speed or visibility and combines them with information about the aircraft and the situation in the surrounding airspace.
"If the pilot does all this (the landing sequence) at the precisely calculated times, part of the landing phase can be completed with the engines at flight idle," explains Sven Oppermann from the DLR Institute of Flight Systems. "This makes the aircraft much quieter and saves fuel."
During the testing, the pilots performed simulated landings under various weather conditions, with different visibility, wind-speed and descent angles.
"Besides making numerous interesting suggestions for integrating the system into everyday flight operations, the pilots provided primarily positive feedback," Oppermann said. "They felt the system and the display were a great help, especially during difficult tailwind situations, and they regard it as a useful aid for assessing the entire approach phase."
The team is now looking forward to perform further tests in the summer of 2014 using DLR’s Advanced Technology Research Aircraft,