After an F-16 pilot blacked out due to G-forces during training, the aircraft’s automatic crash avoidance system came to the rescue in this recently declassified footage.
An international student pilot was training in a U.S. Air Force Arizona Air National Guard F-16 on May 5, attended by an instructor pilot in a separate F-16. The student performed a roll over the southwestern United States, experiencing about eight times the force of gravity on the surface of the earth, and lost consciousness. The plane dove from 17,000 feet to 12,000 feet in a matter of seconds.
The instructor called “2 recover,” ordering the student to pull out of the dive. The call became increasingly frantic as the plane dove toward 10,000 feet.
At about 8,700 feet, the Automatic Ground Collision Avoidance System (Auto-GCAS) kicked in. It brought the F-16 out of the dive, and the student woke up.
This is the fourth successful recoveries the Air Force has credited Auto-GCAS with since the introduction of the system in 2014. In order to do that, the Auto-GCAS monitors the aircraft’s trajectory and compares it to the terrain profile gathered by the aircraft. If the projected trajectory hits the terrain profile, the auto-recovery system kicks in. In the video, the system can be seen activating at 0:33, when the two chevrons meet and the plane initiates the command to “fly up”.
Although military training is a very different beast to highway driving, it does provide at least one example of a system taking over when the human pilot is out of commission – a hot topic in the conversation about autonomous cars.
Filed Under: Aerospace + defense