Re: Landing the 747 on autopilot

Date:         28 Jun 98 18:47:32 
From:         Chris Dahler <dahler@iglobal.net>
Organization: The World's Usenet -- http://www.Supernews.com
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> I remember reading somewhere that the 747 (at least the new ones) can
> land itself. True? How often has it been tried? In regular passenger
> service?

Just about any modern jet aircraft has an autopilot with autoland capabilities
these days, from B737's to B747's and everything in between.  This function is
used when performing a Cat III approach, in which visibilities get as low as
700 feet.  Further, in order to maintain an autopilot's certification for
autoland, generally the aircraft must perform an autoland approach once every
30 days, regardless of the weather.

The autopilot will bring the aircraft down a glidepath and on the horizontal
centerline of the runway using a conventional ILS system.  It will retard the
throttles and perform a flare, then touch down the nose gear.  A separate
system called Autobrakes will apply brake pressure at a level preset by the
crew.  A further separate system called Autospoilers will deploy the
speedbrakes and ground spoilers once the aircraft is on the ground.  These
functions are about all the aircraft is capable of doing on its own.  Reverse
thrust still has to be applied manually by the pilot (at least, I am unaware
of any autothrottle system that has reverse command capability).