Man no sooner took to the air in machines than he sought to do it automatically.
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Background: Man no sooner took to the air in machines than he sought to do it automatically.
Orville Wright in 1908-- five years after he shared with brother Wilbur history's first powered flight-- patented in Europe the first automatic stability device for aircraft flight. In 1913, Wright received the Collier trophy for an improved version.
Automatic landing for aircraft took a little longer. The first recorded completely automatic landing took place in 1937-- by a United States Army Air Corps pilot. But the British generally are given credit for initial experimentation with "blind" landings. Their fog-bound airports made it economically important.
Today, automatic landings are authorized for commercial airline flights by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration-- and air regulatory agencies internationally. The most advanced specified is Category IIIA. That's "zero" ceiling and only 700 feet of runway visibility.
Lockheed's L-1011 TriStar is certificated for Category IIIA automatic landings. It is the only airliner in domestic service-- and one of the few in the world-- to carry this certification. And it is the only plane to have the capability specified in its initial certificate.
The L-1011 is certificated also for its new automatic navigation system, an optional installation, that provides the airline pilot with computer controlled navigation in air terminal areas on departure, enroute, and approaching destination terminal areas-- right up to the point when the autoland system can capture the airport radio beam for landing.
The TriStar not only lands automatically, but can roll out to a stop at airports without the pilots' having to touch the controls-- a capability that will quality it for Category IIIB-- "zero" ceiling and visibility on the runway cut to 150 feet-- when certification procedures for this advanced performance are defined..
Lockheed's TriStar now is in airline service in the United States with Eastern Airlines. It soon will be flying for Trans World Airlines. And twenty-two of the new jetliners will be delivered to airline customers this year.