A Pilot's Perspective: Lifesaving Auto GCAS Technology


The Automatic Ground Collision Avoidance System (Auto GCAS) is an on-board system that prevents an aircraft from impacting the ground by automatically pulling the aircraft up before an accident can occur. Auto GCAS has been flight tested and integrated on the USAF Block 40/50 F-16s. USAF fighter pilot ‘Monessa’ explains what it means to her to fly with Auto GCAS and why it’s an extremely credible system amongst the pilot community.

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USAF fighter pilot Monessa has a busy and dangerous job inside the cockpit of an F-16. Thankfully, innovative systems like the Auto GCAS has prevented 7 jets to crash into the ground.
Video: Lockheed Martin on YouTube

A fighter pilot’s job inside the cockpit of an F-16 fighter jet is busy and dangerous. Thankfully, innovative systems like the Automatic Ground Collision Avoidance System (Auto GCAS) have been developed to reduce risks and help eliminate the leading cause of F-16 pilot fatalities – crashing an undamaged aircraft into the ground.

The Auto GCAS has already proven its ability to safe lives. 75% of F-16 fatalities are due to CFIT (Controlled flight into terrain), spatial disorientation, and G-LOC (G-force induced loss of consciousness, occurring from excessive and sustained g-forces draining blood away from the brain causing cerebral hypoxia). Auto GCAS can prevent 98% of these.

The system already saved 8 lives and 7 jets, since Auto GCAS – for aircraft with digital flight control computers – was integrated on the USAF block 40/50 F-16s in Fall 2014.

The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) is investigating the feasibility of applying the Auto GCAS technology to cargo aircraft such as the C-130. Adapting Auto GCAS to these aircraft is a different challenge than the one previously solved for fighter aircraft, because cargo aircraft cannot simply climb over all nearby terrain. Solutions are being investigated and flight tested in cooperation between AFRL, the Air Force Institute of Technology, and the Air Force Test Pilot School.


(Image: from Lockheed Martin video)

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