TECHNOLOGY ADVANCES

Airbus brake-to-vacate technology has wide-ranging applications

A380 developments include runway performance tool that can improve business aviation safety.


The new autobrake selector includes a BTV position. This arms the BTV function of the autobrake system and the FMS as well as ROW/ROW protection.

We endured the blaring warnings and touched down anyway. ROP kicked in right away with maximum brake pressure.

A synthetic callout, "Max reverse," asked us to use maximum reverse. At 70 kts the call­out "Keep max reverse" was generated.

This is because pilots will normally reduce to idle reverse at such a slow speed to protect the engines.

We actually did reduce to idle reverse since enough real concrete was left that the aircraft did not know about and we did not want to damage the engines.

But the aircraft still came to a stop right at the end of the imagined runway. Due to the large amount of energy dissipated in a short time, the brakes had become hot rather quickly, but the installed brake cooling fans did a great job.

As we taxied back carefully to the Airbus flight test ramp with almost no brake use, I realized that this system will become a new standard in aviation, as it helps to prevent runway overruns.

If the aircraft is high on the glideslope at the 50-ft point during approach the entire performance calculation is shifted forward along the runway. Warnings are triggered if necessary.

Airbus has a habit of inviting guests to great French food and wine, and as we sat down at a dinner table to celebrate a successful flight, we discussed how this system would help pilots of smaller aircraft and in difficult operating environments to make quick decisions about safe landings.

As data storage and processing become more compact and cheaper, executive jets will benefit from this system, not so much for the brake-to-vacate function, but for the runway overrun warning and prevention.

A look back at executive jet accidents reminds us that this tool could help save many lives. In fact, this system could even make the go/no-go decision for the pilot in the case of engine failure during a takeoff run.

For now, though, Air­bus is choosing to stay away from this particular subject, as difficult legal questions loom if the abort decision is taken from the pilot

Peter Berendsen is a Boeing 747-400 captain for an international airline. He writes regularly on aviation-related subjects.


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