20 Sep 02. General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc., has successfully landed its IGNAT unmanned aircraft using a company-developed automatic landing system. Aeronautical Systems has funded and has now fully demonstrated the capability of automatically landing its aircraft without the direct control of the pilot. The automatic landing software uses differential global positioning system (GPS) which provides an accurate cross section of where the aircraft is in space and in relation to the ground. Using this formula, the aircraft descends at a pre-programmed rate to a fixed point on the ground. This company-funded effort resulted in the first automatic landing of the IGNAT on 12 September.
Future steps in the program include the integration of software which will reflect environmental conditions, automatic roll-out and taxi protocol and other elements which will improve the capability to automatically land all Aeronautical Systems unmanned including Predator and Predator B aircraft without pilot control. Automatic take-off is also being developed.