Garmin have announced the introduction of Smart Glide™, a safety tool to help pilots in loss of engine power emergencies by automating tasks to reduce pilot workload. Smart Glide joins Collier Trophy winning Garmin Autoland as a part of the Autonomí™ family of autonomous flight technologies.
In the event of the loss of engine power in a single-engine aircraft, a pilot faces the urgent, workload-intensive job of maneuvering the aircraft from its current position to a suitable airport. Through compatible avionics, such as GTN™ Xi series navigators, Smart Glide provides assistance to the pilot by recommending a suitable airport estimated to be within glide range, as well as providing critical information to the pilot and optimizing select avionics settings, helping save the pilot precious time and workload. When paired with a compatible Garmin autopilot, Smart Glide can automatically engage the autopilot and pitch for the aircraft’s best glide speed while simultaneously navigating the aircraft within the vicinity of the selected airport so the pilot can execute an approach and landing.
“Garmin continues to provide pilots with safety-enhancing tools through our Autonomí family of technologies that help simplify emergencies to reduce the workload required during these task-saturated and stressful situations,” said Carl Wolf, Garmin vice president of aviation sales and marketing. “We are so proud to continue to help make aviation safer with the introduction of Smart Glide, a monumental safety enhancement available to the thousands of fielded aircraft already equipped with the compatible Garmin avionics by automating tasks in an engine power loss emergency to help the pilot manage the situation safely.”
Smart Glide activation and airport selection
In the event of engine power loss in flight, pilots can activate Smart Glide with an optional dedicated Smart Glide button or by holding the Direct-to button for two seconds to initiate an activation. Once activated, Smart Glide recommends an airport estimated to be within glide range and automatically creates a direct-to route. Smart Glide considers several factors when choosing the recommended airport within glide range including runway length and condition; proximity; terrain; and available weather from sources such as FIS-B, SiriusXM, and Garmin Connext® weather, in addition to current measured winds calculated by the primary flight display (PFD). If the aircraft is appropriately equipped with either a GTX™ 345/GTX 345R transponder or a GNX™ 375 acting as a transponder, or a GSR 56/GDL 69/GDL 69A with an appropriate weather subscription, Smart Glide can even consider VFR/IFR conditions when recommending the most suitable airport. Alternate airports within glide range can also be selected if the pilot desires. In the event the system estimates there is not an airport within glide range, Smart Glide provides an aural and visual alert to the pilot, while continuing to search for an airport in range, and automatically pitching for configured best glide speed in aircraft equipped with a compatible Garmin autopilot.
When Smart Glide has been activated, the system will alert the pilot with an aural message stating that Smart Glide is active while also providing a quick reference to the selected airport within glide range in both bearing and distance to enhance situational awareness. In addition, Smart Glide provides automated adjustment of select avionics settings including the changing of the primary COM standby to the airport CTAF or tower and automatic switching of the CDI to GPS mode. If the aircraft is appropriately equipped and configured with a compatible Garmin transponder, Smart Glide also provides pilots a shortcut to tune the transponder to squawk the 7700 emergency code. If the aircraft is equipped with a compatible Garmin autopilot, Smart Glide activation will also automatically engage the autopilot to pitch for the best glide airspeed and activate GPS mode to enable navigation to the selected airport.
Access critical information
Using the Smart Glide Page and the Map Page of the GTN Xi, pilots can more easily access critical Smart Glide information when they need it most and to better prepare for a landing at a potentially unfamiliar airport. The Smart Glide Page displays glide speed based on the specific aircraft, airport name, an alternate airport list, arrival above ground level (AGL) altitude, longest runway information including wind components if available, as well as a Smart Glide alert banner to keep the pilot notified of glide status and any pertinent instructions. The Map Page is another useful resource for pilots during a Smart Glide activation. The Glide Range Ring depicted on the Map Page shows airports within glide range and dynamically adjusts based on winds and terrain. The Map Page displays current aircraft AGL altitude, estimated AGL altitude upon arrival, bearing, as well as distance to the airport while decluttering the map.
Approach and landing
When the aircraft is within four nautical miles from the selected airport, Smart Glide will alert the pilot that they are approaching the airport environment with both an aural alert and visual banner. Within two miles of the airport, audible airport position alerts and a flashing red alert displayed on the GTN Xi will advise the pilot to resume control and begin maneuvering for landing. In the event of an off-airport landing, Smart Glide provides audible AGL altitude alerts to help ensure the pilot is aware of the altitude while maintaining their focus on landing locations.
Smart Glide support with a variety of Garmin systems
In certified aircraft, Smart Glide will become available with a GTN Xi series navigator paired with a compatible Garmin flight display including the G500 TXi™/G600 TXi, GI 275 electronic flight instrument, the G3X Touch™, or G5 electronic flight instrument, with others to be added later. Compatible Garmin autopilots such as GFC 500 or GFC 600 can be automatically engaged when Smart Glide is activated5. For aircraft without a compatible Garmin autopilot, Smart Glide will still provide critical information and features to help manage engine emergencies and help to reduce pilot workload. Further, experimental aircraft with G3X Touch and a G3X autopilot can also enable Smart Glide technology when appropriately equipped.
Smart Glide is expected to be available as a software upgrade at no additional charge from Garmin on compatible systems in August 2021 through the Garmin Authorized Dealer network6. The optional Garmin Smart Glide activation button is also available for a list price of $129. For additional information, visit www.garmin.com/SmartGlide or www.garmin.com/aviation.