Novel aircraft concepts enable a future Air Transportation System (ATS) with reduced emissions, reduced noise, improved mobility, and radically new modes of transportation, such as urban air taxis, autonomous deliveries of goods, and improved weather and ground traffic monitoring. The future ATS will need to support an incredibly diverse set of vehicles operating from urban vertiports in addition to conventional airfields.
Approach and landing systems were originally designed for tube and wing aircraft operating between large airfields with long, clear approach paths free from obstacles. Similar performance characteristics across the fleet enabled the creation and publication of standardized approach and landing trajectories. Future aircraft, especially those designed for high cruise efficiency, may not be capable of meeting standardized approach and landing performance criteria.
Urban air mobility concepts typically require small vertiports without clear approach paths increasing the likelihood of encountering wind shear and turbulence during approach and landing. Low wing loaded and disc loaded vehicles, which include many future air vehicle concepts, are more susceptible to turbulence and face larger deviations from the desired trajectory in turbulent conditions.
We propose researching, developing, and commercializing an innovative solution to these challenges called the Performance-based Approach and Landing System (PALS). PALS will use information about the air vehicle’s performance and estimates of current turbulence and wind shear levels to autonomously create safe performance-based trajectories for approach and landing. PALS will be able to estimate and control the aircraft’s future position along the generated trajectory to coordinate with air traffic control or directly with other aircraft. PALS is a key component in enabling a future air transportation system consisting of a diverse set of vehicles operating from urban vertiports and conventional airfields.