I bet there are a lot of people out there who didn’t even know that some planes are capable of landing themselves. Did you know that? I knew that – but what I only recently learned, was that it has been happening for fifty years! Auto landing fully automates the landing procedure of an aircraft’s flight, under the watchful eye of the pilots, of course. Wikipedia says auto landing was designed to be used in situations where visibility is too poor for a visual approach, usually less than 600 meters Runway Visual Range, though each aircraft has specific operating parameters.
Today (June 10th) happens to be the 50th anniversary of the first auto-landing of a commercial airline flight. The act was performed by British European Airways (now British Airways) flight 343, from Paris to London. The aircraft was a Hawker Siddeley Trident 1 (pictured), with Captain Eric Poole at the controls. Captain Poole and BEA’s Chairman, Sir Anthony Milward signed a special certificate for each passenger as a memento of the day (pictured above).
Throughout its history, British Airways has been at the cutting edge of technology and passenger services in the airline industry. In 1952, British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) was the first airline to operate a jet – the De Havilland Comet. BOAC was also the first airline to offer trans Atlantic jet service, with the Comet 4. British Airways is also known for having operated the Concorde, and having installed the world’s first fully flat beds in Business Class.