Garmin Autoland Selected For 2020 Collier Award

Garmin Autoland
Credit: Garmin

The Garmin Autoland system is the recipient of the prestigious Robert J. Collier Trophy for 2020, the National Aeronautic Association (NAA) has announced.

Awarded annually by the NAA, the Collier Trophy recognizes “the greatest achievement in aeronautics or astronautics in America” during the preceding year. The trophy is permanently displayed at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.

The Collier Trophy Selection Committee, comprised of 35 aviation and aerospace professionals, reviewed presentations from seven nominees for the 2020 award.

“The Garmin Autoland system marks a significant improvement in civil aviation,” said NAA Chairman Jim Albaugh, former Boeing Commercial Airplanes CEO, who announced the award June 3. “It’s ability to take over an airplane with a disabled pilot and land it safely will save many lives in the future. It’s a remarkable technical achievement and clearly merits the Collier Trophy.”

Unveiled by Garmin in October 2019, Autoland functions with the Garmin G3000 flight deck, a touchscreen-controlled avionics suite with 14.1-in. diagonal high-resolution displays.

Activated by pressing a dedicated button, or automatically in extreme circumstances if the pilot does not respond to prompts, the system calculates a flight plan to the most suitable airport that avoids terrain and adverse weather, initiates an approach to the runway, and extends the landing gear and flaps as the aircraft descends. 

An integrated autothrottle system manages the aircraft’s speed, engine performance and engine power so the aircraft can climb, descend or maintain altitude as needed during an Autoland activation. On landing, the system applies automatic braking while tracking the runway centerline to bring the aircraft to a full stop.

Three aircraft received FAA type certification approval with Autoland in 2020, beginning with the Piper Aircraft M600/SLS single-engine turboprop in May of that year; the Daher TBM 940 single-engine turboprop in July, including the first European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) approval; and the Cirrus Vision Jet in August.

“Autoland began as a simple exploration to develop automation technology for general aviation aircraft,” said Cliff Pemble, Garmin president and CEO. “This exploration resulted in the first automated system that can safely fly and land an aircraft in an emergency without human intervention. It is a tremendous honor for Autoland to be recognized as one of the greatest achievements in aviation history.”

The NAA will formally present the trophy later this year at a date to be determined. 

Bill Carey

Based in Washington, D.C., Bill covers business aviation and advanced air mobility for Aviation Week Network. A former newspaper reporter, he has also covered the airline industry, military aviation, commercial space and unmanned aircraft systems. He is the author of 'Enter The Drones, The FAA and UAVs in America,' published in 2016.