Aug 27, 2003

FHI Develops a Compact, Light-Weight Autonomous Pilot System
for Small Aircrafts and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles
-- Succeeding in using a new navigation system to complete an entirely automatic
takeoff,flight and landing test of a small aircraft for the first time in Japan --


      Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd. (FHI), a global manufacturer of transportation and aerospace-related products and the maker of Subaru automobiles, today announced that it has developed a compact, light-weight autonomous pilot system that enables fully automatic flight operation of small aircrafts and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), from takeoff to landing. Using the company’s own small aircraft, FHI recently succeeded in completing its fully automatic test flight with the autonomous pilot system. This marks the first time in Japan for a small aircraft to complete a fully automatic, hand-free flight from takeoff to landing.

      Capitalizing on its expertise in technologies and experiences for UAVs, FHI developedthe flight control system for the use of pilot-operated small aircraft. The system uses GPS1 navigation technology, instead of the ILS2 and other navigation-assist systems that guide commercial large aircrafts to takeoff and land at airports. By using GPS, this autonomous pilot system allows an aircraft to use any airport or airfield even those not equipped with ILS. The new system, mainly comprised of components from GPS-guided UAVs, has been manufactured at the Utsunomiya Plant of FHI’s Aerospace Company.

      FHI has been a forerunner in the development of fully automatic flight control systems. In 2002 the company manufactured a UAV for High Speed Flight Demonstration (HSFD) Phase I under contract from the National Space Development Agency of Japan (NASDA) and the National Aerospace Laboratory of Japan (NAL). The UAV succeeded in a test flight with a autonomous flight control system that included automatic takeoff and landing, and which took place on Christmas Island (the Republic of Kiribati) in the South Pacific Ocean. Also in 2002, FHI successfully completed another test flight of RPH2 unmanned large helicopter for commercial uses with an automatic takeoff and landing inclusive navigation system. The company has a wide capability of automatic flight control technologies for various types of aircraft, including helicopters and fixed-wing aircrafts.

      FHI plans to achieve further advancement of automatic flight technologies through the development of autonomous takeoff and landing system and to apply to future UAVs and small aircrafts.

    1. Global Positioning System is a satellite based navigation system. Using satellite signals, the GPS calculates geographic positions.
    2. Installed at an airport, the Instrumental Landing System is a take-off and landing guidance system that uses radio wave signals.


    ・ The plane begins to land, automatically guided by the GPS-based navigation system.The pilot sits hand-free in the plane.
    ・ The plane flies automatically navigated by the system, without the direct control of the pilot.



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